Hidden away in Bathwick, on the banks of the River Avon, are the Cleveland Pools – the country’s only surviving Georgian lido. Our Year 7 students recently visited to find out more about the Pools and help with its restoration. They all walked from the school and enjoyed a two-hour session of history and activities as part of the school’s Enrichment Programme, learning about heritage in their city.
The children were split into three groups for the activities run by Cleveland Pools’ volunteers Keith Williams, Sheila Andrews and Jo Thomas; Gardening, Drawing/Writing, and Origami.
Built in the shape of a small crescent, it was one of the earliest examples of a ‘Subscription Pool’ – built with private money for public use. For decades the formerly-named ‘Cleveland Pleasure Pools’ were a favourite summer destination of generations of people from Bath and beyond. By 1861 this glorious open-air venue had become so popular that the Victorians added a children’s upper pool.
Sadly the Pools closed in 1984 when public funds were re-directed to the sports centre, but now the Cleveland Pools Trust – in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, English Heritage and Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) – is finally making headway with its campaign to restore the Grade II* baths and reclaim them for outdoor swimming.
The restoration will be carried out as sympathetically as possible, with the intention of providing a 25-metre main pool using naturally-treated and heated water, leaving space for mechanical plant and servicing (see below for one possible design). Alternative energy sources will be used once the changing cubicles and refreshment areas are reinstated, and the cottage will house an exhibition.
The Cleveland Pools Trust has been in discussion with B&NES since 2004 about a long-term lease and, with financial help from the Architectural Heritage Fund, it commissioned a feasibility study into future use of the site. Since then, with a significant grant from English Heritage, a further programme of assessment took place which culminated in a Business Plan and a submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which has now borne fruit.
For more information or to join the Trust, visit: www.clevelandpools.org.uk