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The Dolphin Pool

Ref: Info Point

Further Information

It might be surprising to know that a Security Police checkpoint within No. 1 Tunnel denied all access to Camp Bay to locals. Once the dockyard works had been completed, Camp Bay became a restricted area except for employees of the Eastern Telegraph Company, whose long-range submarine cable connected Porthcurno, in the United Kingdom, to hubs in Lisbon, Gibraltar, Malta, Alexandria, Suez, Aden, Bombay, Penang, Malacca, Singapore, Batavia (current Jakarta), as far as Darwin, Australia. From Camp Bay, another cable extended from Camp Bay all the way up to the Eastern Telegraph Company’s Headquarters in Mount Pleasant. At its peak, the Company operated 160,000 nautical miles (nm) of cables. Later known as Cable & Wireless the company continued to operate in Gibraltar until 1987.

Buildings used by the Eastern Telegraph Company, Camp Bay, Gibraltar circa 1920’s.

Little Bay, meanwhile, was used as a Physical Training Camp for the military and later a POW Camp during WWII. It was not until the 1950’s when a significant contraction of the military establishment in Gibraltar finally released much of the previously restricted areas of Gibraltar to local Government – including Camp Bay and part of Little Bay.

Swimming in Camp Bay in 1922. Given that the area was out of bounds for civilians these were probably employees of the Eastern Telegraph Company.

Military personnel and children at Camp Bay circa 1922.

During the 1960’s, the British Government, in an attempt to diversify Gibraltar’s dependency on a military economy encouraged the Gibraltar Legislative Council to invest in tourism, thus transforming Camp Bay and Little Bay from a simple pebble beach to a terraced public lido.

The closure of the frontier in 1969 severely affected Gibraltar’s tourist product but the new bathing facilities at Camp Bay and Little Bay became a very popular summer venue for Gibraltarian families during the hot, claustrophobic, summer months that Gibraltar now endured because of the frontier closure.

Northern end of Camp Bay, 1964.

Camp Bay, 1960's.

The dolphin pool with its iconic three dolphin’s spouting seawater became a characteristic feature of the Camp Bay bathing facilities – colloquially known to locals as ‘el quarry’.

To this end, the Keys Promenade linking Camp Bay to Little Bay was constructed during 1969-70 by 20 Field Squadron of the Royal Engineers based on a design provided by 1st Fortress Squadron, Royal Engineers based in Gibraltar.

Camp Bay Dolphins' Pool, 1967.

The Key's promenade, 1970's.

The iconic waterfall exiting the cliff below Buena Vista was excavated at the same time. The cascading salt water returning to the sea comes from the Glen Rocky water reverse osmosis desalination plant, which provides the MOD with all of its drinking water.

Outfall for the Glen Rocky Distillery.

The Nuffield Pool facilities at Little Bay remained restricted for service personnel and their families, but the public swimming pool constructed on the Camp Bay promenade provided much appreciated bathing facilities for locals. The three dolphin’s spouting seawater into the pool was to become hugely popular icon figurines for over thirty years. Swimming with the dolphins in ‘el Quarri’ still brings back fond memories to all those who remember the ‘good old days’.

Dolphins' Pool, 1980's.

Camp Bay users, 1980's.

Camp Bay, 1980's.

In 2006, following a major refurbishment of the pool, the three dolphins were found in a state of disrepair and removed. However, such was the public attachment to the dolphin figurines that they were not disposed of and re-positioned close to the pool.

In 2014, a second major refurbishment programme saw the length and depth of the pool substantially increased and a fully automated water chlorination system added. The project included the construction of ramps and access points, removal of obstacles and the redesign of other facilities to provide a user-friendly environment in beaches.

The damaged dolphins.

Restrored dolphins.

Camp Bay today with the new chlorinated pool.

New camp Bay pool.

In the summer of 2019, the old MOD Nuffield Pool facilities was returned to Government and re-opened for use by the public. On the western end of the facilities, two new beach volleyball courts have been constructed providing the sport with a new venue from which to develop. A new promenade now links the western end of Camp Bay to Little Bay, with additional space and greenery added to the area.

The new Nuffield Pool public facilities.

Modern Beach Volley-ball facilities.

The Dolphin Pool Image