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20 Dec 2018

UK’s oldest open-air pools to be restored by £4.7m project
BY Tom Walker

The site was first opened in 1815 but was forced to close in 1984 and has fallen into disrepair since 

The site was first opened in 1815 but was forced to close in 1984 and has fallen into disrepair since 
photo: HLF / Tony McNicol

The oldest surviving open-air swimming baths in the UK are set to be fully restored and reopened to the public for the first time in more than 30 years.

A project to redevelop the Grade II*-listed Cleveland Pools – a 200-year-old Georgian lido in the city of Bath – has secured Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant worth £4.7m.

The site – which first opened in 1815, following the Bathwick Water Act, which prohibited nude bathing in the river – includes two bathing pools, the original changing rooms and a private ladies pool.

The pools were forced to close in 1984 and have since deteriorated. The site was placed on the ‘Heritage at Risk’ register.

The project will conserve the Georgian features and upgrade the facilities to allow for year-round swimming and other activities.

When completed, the site will include a 25m swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and café for the public to enjoy.

In total, the restoration is estimated to cost around £5.7m, with the Cleveland Pools Trust – which has campaigned towards bringing the Georgian lido back into use since 2003 – providing around £800,000 of funding for the project.

Work is expected to start late next year and be completed in early 2021.

Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies MBE, who has been a long-time supporter and patron for the project, said: “I have watched the Cleveland Pools Trust work tirelessly for a long time in its attempt to save this historic riverside venue, and reviving it for swimming and as a heritage site will bring huge joy to the community and visitors.

"Swimming is a great way of keeping active in a time where many of us spend the day sat in front of a computer, and being outdoors in a natural landscape brings something special to the experience. I think the restored Pools will be the new jewel in Bath's crown and I hope to be one of the first to swim there when they reopen.”



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