A end of year plea now for Bathonians to get behind a local project that will revive an important part of the city’s history and a once much-loved public facility.
The Cleveland Pools Trust in Bath has now applied for planning permission to finally restore its 200yr-old heritage swimming pool in Bathwick.
A spokesperson told me that it is vital that both the local council (B&NES) – and the Heritage Lottery Fund – see evidence of support, so the Trust is appealing to people to please get behind them today (or ideally before Christmas) using the whole of this link to log on direct:
Bath Newseum was told:
‘It takes one minute to fill the form and will make a HUGE difference. (Addresses only asked for to distinguish individuality).
Progress will be posted via the Trust’s Winter Newsletter on the website in the New Year. www.clevelandpools.org.uk
Thank you very much in anticipation.’
The planning permission sought by the Cleveland Pools Trust would result, if granted, in the destruction or permanent concealment of most of the remaining historic fabric of the Pools – including the unique first “Ladies Pool” in the UK – retaining only the iconic crescent of changing rooms. There will be a large, modern inappropriate toilet block along the riverside, partially blocking the river-view of the crescent. There will be other new build, all stylistically at odds with the crescent and in modern and shoddy materials, all there to make money. This scheme is all about money: to satisfy the Lottery Fund’s requirements, the Pools would have to be “turning over” huge sums of of money within 3 years of opening: the business plan demands 36,000 visitors per year (in fact, for financial reasons, the Pools would only be open for swimming April to September, so 36,000 visitors over the 5 Summer months!). If you know the area (narrow cul-de-sac, neighbourly backwater, children playing in the street, no parking,) you might wonder what effect the incursion of so many people would have: YOU might: the authors of this egregious and greedy plan did not seek to involve local – or any – opinion at any stage in their deliberations: the plan was released upon us as a fait accompli; immutable.
The pool being retained and adapted for (rather crowded!) swimming is the one built by Bath Corporation in c. 1900, all older pools to be destroyed.
The Plans talk much of “Heritage”. Sacrilege is more like it; commercial vandalism. In newspeak, the Cleveland Pools are to be “Monetised” at the expense of their history, their charm and atmosphere, their potential usefulness, and the peace and pleasance of an entire neighbourhood. There are, of course, genuine alternatives, and I urge you to stop supporting this misguided selfish and greedy unpleasantness.
Bath Newseum welcomes comment and debate and therefore has approved the publication of the above comments. In the interest of fair play, and balanced debate, the Pools Trust has been approached to reply and state their case.
And here it is – from the Chairman of the Trust, Ann Dunlop:
I was really disappointed to read Ric’s negative response to the Cleveland Pools Trust’s planning application for the Cleveland Baths site.
The site is Grade 11* and listed on both Historic England’s and B&NES Buildings at Risk Registers. It is nationally and internationally very important being the oldest open air public swimming pool in the UK as well as possibly western Europe. We do not want and would not be allowed to destroy anything significant about this very important place. This is partly why CPT have been delayed in submitting their planning application because of having to make changes to the plans at Historic England’s request.
The Ladies Pool is certainly not being destroyed by these plans. The pool was filled in years ago by the owners, the local authority not by us. We hope to restore the building as an exhibition space to tell the story of some of the remarkable people who lived, worked and swam there as well as the history of organised swimming teaching.
The Cleveland Pools Trust is run by volunteers and is a charity and a not for profit company so any money made has to be reinvested for site maintenance or saved for future bad summers. Greed is definitely not the motive. It is going to be extremely challenging to keep the entry prices as low as possible in line with other community pools.
It is true that we shall have to have up to four events a year to raise money much as we did last year for the 200 year anniversary celebrations. We do not know what they will be yet but it will not be loud music late into the night and we would hope to consult with immediate neighbours about this nearer the time.
Our hopes are that people of all ages and backgrounds will be able to swim in the naturally cleansed and heated original pool in an idyllic spot and absorb some of the history of those who have swum there before them and for them to be inspired and want to learn even more about the Pools place in Bath’s history.
Ann Dunlop (Chairman Cleveland Pools Trust)
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