September reopening for Britain's oldest lido following £9m transformation

by Megan Whitby | 25 Aug 2023
UK’s oldest outdoor public pool in the city of Bath will reopen to the public on 10 September
The Cleveland Pools, first opened in 1815, had been derelict for years and were facing demolition, when a community group established a charity to save them
Originally fed from the river Avon, the pools will now be heated to 28°C from April to September, partly using hydropower from the river. Cold swimming will be offered during the other months (October to May)
The baths were originally designed by John Pinch the Elder, designer of Babbington House in Somerset and Bishopstrow House, as well as parts of the City of Bath

The UK’s oldest outdoor public pool in the city of Bath will reopen to the public on 10 September following a £9m (US$10.7m, €10.1m) restoration project.

Located on Hampton Row, Cleveland Pools was designed by John Pinch the Elder, designer of Babbington House in Somerset and Bishopstrow House, as well as parts of the City of Bath, and opened in 1815.

It remained a popular open-air bathing spot for more than 150 years, shutting indefinitely in 1984 due to a competing indoor pool facility opening nearby.

The property was then used for trout farming until the local council – which owned and operated the site – put Cleveland Pools up for sale in 2003.

A year later, residents Ann Dunlop, Janice Dreisbach and Roger Houghton banded together to form the Cleveland Pools Trust (CPT) to raise funds to restore and reopen the facility.

CPT went on to secure more than £9m (US$10.7m, €10.1m) in funding in the coming years to facilitate the restoration.

This was donated by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Historic England, B&NES and Salix Finance alongside other organisations.

Additional funding was awarded in 2020 to support increased costs incurred by the pandemic – alongside money to help create a water source heat pump.

Community space

The facility will offer access to two outdoor pools, male and female changing rooms, hot showers, a children’s pool, a pontoon and a kiosk canopy.

Thermal and wet area specialist Barr + Wray completed the project's tanking, rendering and tiling, as well as the installation of the pool filtration system for both the main outdoor and children's pools.

From April to September the outdoor pools will be warmed to 28°C and partly heated by hydropower from the nearby river. Meanwhile, open-water swimmers will be able to enjoy cold water swimming for the remainder of the year.

No membership will be required and day guests will be welcomed, however, there will be an optional monthly swim pass available for regular visitors.

To celebrate the milestone being reached, swimming will be free on opening day but will need to be booked beforehand.

Sport and leisure management company Fusion Lifestyle has been appointed to operate the not-for-profit facility.

Cleveland Pools is now a member of the Historic Pools of Britain body and is a Grade II* listed building, which under English law, affords the building special protection.

Paul Simons, CPT chair, said: "This has been a marathon swim, often against the tide.

"The celebration last year marked the completion of the restoration works and now we can enter the operational phase in partnership with Fusion. The pontoon will shortly be delivered to the site via the river, and the commissioning of the water source heat pump, funded by Salix Finance and assisted by WECA, will be complete."

Cleveland Pools  Bath  Historic Pools of Britain  Heritage Lottery Fund  Barr + Wray 
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September reopening for Britain's oldest lido following £9m transformation
The UK’s oldest outdoor public pool in the city of Bath will reopen to the public on 10 September following a £9m (US$10.7m, €10.1m) restoration project.