Members of the Bath-based Cleveland Pools Trust are due to meet representatives of the Heritage Lottery Fund very soon to discuss the organisation’s decision not to provide further funding to help restore the historic riverside lido that has lain abandoned for years.
This Grade 2* listed complex behind Hampton Row, and beside the River Avon, contains the oldest surviving open-air public swimming pools in the UK. Their rich social history dates back to the Regency period during King George III’s reign.
The Cleveland Pools Trust has been running a campaign to save the 200 year old lido – on the eastern edge of the city – for 13 years.
It was a bitter blow to hear- just before Christmas – that they are not getting the Stage 2 funding to enable them to begin a restoration which would have reopened the site to open air bathing in 2020.
In a statement the Heritage Lottery Fund said:
“In 2014, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded Cleveland Pools Trust initial support* for a £3.7m project plus development funding of £366,200 to progress plans to restore and reopen Cleveland Pools in Bath.
HLF has now assessed Cleveland Pools Trust’s second-round application for an increased full grant of £4.07m. On this occasion, HLF’s Board decided it was unable to confirm the grant.
Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said:
“The Grade II* listed Cleveland Pools have significant heritage value and are believed to be the oldest-surviving public outdoor swimming pool in England. Given their importance, and the clear need for their restoration, we’ve supported the Cleveland Pools Trust over the last three years to find a solution for this complex site’s needs.
“Although a lot of work has gone into developing the project, unfortunately a number of key risks remain, including a challenging financial risk.
Therefore, we are unable to provide a grant for this project at this time. We will be speaking to both the Cleveland Pools Trust and Bath and North East Somerset Council to explore possible next steps.”
Cleveland Pools Trustee and treasurer Andy Mullett told Bath Newseum:
‘We are all extremely disappointed that so many years of hard work appears to have amounted to nothing. We have requested a meeting with the South West head of the HLF to discuss the various issues that led to this rejection, which we hope will happen very shortly, and we will then be meeting with B&NES, who are of course the owners of the Pool, to discuss where we go from here.’
Andy said he had hoped they had done all the hard work and ‘ had a scheme we thought worked.’
They would be meeting HLF in the New Year and Historic England had said they would also send a representative.
‘Of course we are disappointed. We are looking at a significant asset and a building on the list of historic buildings at risk register.’
It’s also not known if B&NES has a fall-back plan for the Pools and whether they could decide to put them back on the open market.
The Trust might have to decide to continue care and maintenance until such times as a HLF bid is successful or hand the complex back to the Council.
A lot depends on that New Year meeting – due to take place soon.
The Trust has since issued the following statement:
“The Heritage Lottery Fund has rejected an application for funding to restore the Cleveland Pools in Bath.
The trustees of the HLF met on the 12th December to consider the latest raft of applications for grant aid. The Cleveland Pools Trust has subsequently been notified verbally of this decision. The Trust will now awaiting written confirmation of the HLF decision to help it understand the reasons behind the rejection of the project.
On receipt of this correspondence the Trust will be able to consider any options open to it to pursue its objective of re-opening the Pools for leisure swimming. Until receipt of this correspondence, (receipt of which is not anticipated until after the Christmas break) the Trust will not be making any further statement.
The Cleveland Pools Trust has welcomed the offer of the HLF to hold a meeting in the New Year to review the reasons why the project was turned down.”