Our story and pictures of families enjoying sunny days at Tumbling Bay, one of Oxford’s favourite bathing places, provoked plenty of memories from readers.

Many remembered happy summer afternoons not only there, but at the city’s other popular sites, including Long Bridges in East Oxford, at Wolvercote and at Hinksey Pools, off Abingdon Road.

One reader was also reminded of the times he learned to swim in the long-forgotten pool in the river behind St Clement’s Church in Marston Road.

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He recalled how teachers at New Marston Church of England School, now St Michael’s School, refused to allow pupils to go to the newly-opened indoor Temple Cowley pool unless they also swam in the river among the ducks.

As we recalled (Memory Lane, April 15), Tumbling Bay, off Botley Road, was a favourite venue for nearly 140 years, opening in 1853 and closing, officially at least, in 1990.

The pool, known locally as Tum, enjoyed its busiest period in the post-war years, with more than 86,000 admissions between May and September 1947.

Numbers began to fall in the 1970s and 1980s amid fears about the safety of swimming in rivers and the outdoor pools gradually closed. Tumbling Bay has become an unofficial nature reserve, with swimming there continuing.

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The Tumbling Bay Preservation Society was formed in 2022.

The story of Tumbling Bay is told in the Journal of the Oxfordshire Local History Association (OLHA) Volume 11. Readers can obtain a copy by joining OLHA at

https://olha.org.uk/join-or-renew or by contacting Liz Woolley at membership@olha.org.uk. This picture and others we published earlier come from Oxfordshire History Centre.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.