I want to write in support of a remarkable survivor – a Georgian gem in our midst that isn’t as obvious or impressive as a King’s Circus or Royal Crescent – but in some respects is even more important.
Tucked away behind trees on the bank of the River Avon at the bottom of Hampton Row in Bathwick – and across river from Kensington Meadows and the London Road – is the remains of an open-air bathing complex that includes the only Georgian lido still in existence.
Financed by public subscription, the original pool opened in 1815 and, until 1984, Bathonians and visitors to the city continued to enjoy swimming there.
Originally the river was diverted to flow through sluice gates into and out of the pool, and the D-shaped footprint of this first construction, which is still apparent, is echoed by the curve of a miniature Georgian crescent.
This houses changing cubicles, a cottage and the site of the former private Ladies Pool which was infilled in the 20th century.
Entirely unoccupied since 2003, this precious historic resource – an integral and fascinating part of Bath’s history and heritage – is now falling into dereliction. Despite its Grade 2* status and its national and international importance, it is registered as a Building at Risk.
Ann Dunlop heads up a small group of people who have formed the Cleveland Pools Trust to hopefully bring swimming back to the old lido.
The Trustees – with the help of a committed band of volunteers, the full backing of Bath and North East Somerset Council who are the owners of the site, and the support of English Heritage and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, is working towards a realistic plan for the future.
Would it help, l wondered, if a rather cash-strapped B&NES just gave the pools to them?
NB. Ann mentioned Janice (Dreisbach) in her conversation with me. She is another longstanding stalwart of the campaign who has done an enormous amount of groundwork in applying for grant aid and is still a valuable team adviser. You will find her in the ‘Meet the Team’ section of the Cleveland Pools Trust website’s Photo Gallery.
Meanwhile, the date of the Business Launch event will be announced very soon. It’ll be happening in a couple of weeks with a celebrity guest to promote the Pools Restoration Project. A Community Launch is also planned for later in the year.
Money and time are both needed. Find out more about The Cleveland Pools Trust at www.clevelandpools.org.uk