Seems this year’s Heritage Open Days at Bath’s Cleveland Pools was a great success with 500 visitors visiting Britain’s only remaining Georgian-built open-air swimming facility over the three days.
The following report has been sent to the Virtual Museum of Bath by Holly Bowman of the Cleveland Pools Trust. The photographs are all hers too!
‘It is always amazing to note how many people who visit learned to swim there and are so saddened to see it as it is now. New visitors fall in love with it and are so enthusiastic about it being reopened.
Visitors who come every year noted, that despite the obvious efforts of the volunteers of the Cleveland Pools Trust, the buildings are looking increasingly dilapidated. For the first time, the Cleveland Pools Trust was able to open the cottage and the ladies pool building, giving visitors a new perspective on the Pools.
The cottage is a lot bigger than it appears from the outside and many visitors commented on what a shame it is that it is no longer in use as a house.
Ann Dunlop – Chair of the Cleveland Pools Trust – attended on all three days and, along with the other volunteers, welcomed 21 members of English Heritage to the site for an exclusive preview on Thursday with coffee and cake at the Holborne Museum afterwards.
Despite the rain, Friday was a busy day. Bath’s MP Don Foster visited and met John Dagger, who seems to have taught almost everyone who learned to swim in the 70s in Bath.
John was also involved with the Pools as a trout farm between 1985 and 1999 when it was run by Jenny Godwin.
Martin Tracy of The Framing Workshop in Walcot Street also visited.
The Cleveland Pools Trust members were delighted to see him as he is the Pools’ first sponsor and has paid for our Green Travel Plan which is an integral part of the renovation project.
Other notable visitors, who all braved the rain on Friday, included Pools’ Patron and Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies who popped in with her son.
Dennis Toogood of the Bath Dolphins and Peter Metcalfe ex-mayor and Chair of Bath’s World Heritage Site committee were also there.
Despite the other huge events happening in the city on Saturday (Bath vs Leicester Tigers, the Bath University Open day, the American Civil War re-enactment at the American Museum, the Jane Austen Festival and the Country Festival at Bath Racecourse), plenty of enthusiastic visitors made their way along to the Pools, including Emily Romero Shaw (13) who decided to leave her dad at the rugby and visit the Pools with mother Dine and brother Dylan (8).
They spent the afternoon making paper hats and boats to float on the Pools’ fountain with Cleveland Pools Trust volunteers Sally Helvey and Verity Baetke and the other children who came to visit.
Another rainy day saw a visit from Bath’s Mayor and Mayoress. It was Cllr Lee’s first visit to the Pools since swimming there as a child and they was given a tour by Cleveland Pools Trust Chair, Ann Dunlop.
Members of Bath Firefighters Blue Watch also called in to take a look at the Pools as they are interested in using them for water-rescue training.
The Cleveland Pools Trust are keen for the local community to make use of the Pools in a way that benefits everyone – not just the swimmers.
The Jane Austen Festival arrived in style on Sunday, with a group of traditionally attired Georgians taking a promenade along the Pools’ crescent.
It all got a bit ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with several of the men threatening to do a ‘Darcy’ and dive into the water.The first Georgians to get their feet wet at the Pools for a long time!
What’s next for the Pools: We’ll be fundraising at the Bath Charities Annual fair in November.
We’ve made a good start on this raising over £200 in raffle tickets during the Heritage Open Days.
The Pools Trust are looking for new and exciting ways to raise funds by using the appeal of the Pools in its current state.
They are in discussion with various interested people who want to use the Pools as a venue or as a set, including theatre company Just Jones & who are keen to do a photo shoot for their play Enemy of the People, which will be on at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol in October, which ties in with the Pools well as the play focuses on themes of environment sustainability and local identity.
It also stars local Bathwick resident Rupert Holliday Evans, best known for his work in Doctor Who and The Bill.’ We are also keen to encourage local residents to help with our fundraising activities.
You can now donate to the restoration project on the Pools website via credit card and Paypal on the Pools site: http://clevelandpools.org.uk/en/left/information.
We are always looking for volunteers to help the project as well – from enthusiastic gardeners who fancy helping tackle the weeds to anyone with experience of heritage restoration projects who can help with advice, support and expertise.
Before the Open Heritage week-end at the Pools l had interviewed the Chair of the Trust – Ann Dunlop – and asked her what difference being given the key to the Lido ‘door’ would make to their efforts to get the Pools open again.