As well as being built for use in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff in 1958, the Empire Pool also marked Cardiff’s new status (granted in 1955) as the Capital City of Wales. The new leisure building also represented the ending of the post-war austerity and the introduction of the first modernist public building in the city.
The long pool (originally 55 yards, later reduced to 50 metres) was flanked by tiered tip-up red and grey seats, with the diving boards at the north end. The capacity for 1772 spectators exceeded most covered entertainment venues of the time. Stairs at each end of the glazed foyer led to the first-floor changing rooms and the notable parquet-floored and chromium embellished second-floor cafe.
The Empire Pool and Cardiff Arms Park; both stylish public buildings were Cardiff’s favourite post-war buildings and formed and interesting ‘leisure’ group adjoin the distinctive transport buildings of the Central railway (1932-4) and bus stations built on the site of the 19th century terraces of Temperance Town.
1956-8: Empire Pool constructed, designed by D. M. Davies
1958: Pool opened April 18th; Empire and Commonwealth Games start July 6th
1998: Pool closes on 8th May; demolished May/June