It’s lift-off for the lido!

It just gets better and better. Hot on the heels of news that Bath’s Sydney Gardens has secured HLF funding, comes another rescue announcement.

The Cleveland Pools Trust has also secured a multi-million pound National Lottery grant to bring this unique facility on the bank of the River Avon back into use. It’s the oldest outdoor public swimming pool in the UK.

Faith and hard work has finally paid off for a group of people who wouldn’t give up on a dream.

CPT original - iconic for Press copy

The £4.7 million grant will enable the restoration of this Grade 11* listed 200 year old Georgian lido to get underway.

The full scheme will cost £5.7 million and the Trust, having already raised £800,000, will now secure the remaining funds, creating the UK’s first naturally-treated (no chemicals) open air public swimming pool, with 30% of the energy for heating the water coming from heat pumps in the adjacent river.

Cleveland Pools CGI of main pool and buildings
How the restored lido might look.

In the shape of a miniature crescent, referencing Bath’s renowned architecture, the site includes two bathing pools, the original changing rooms and a private ladies pool. First opened in 1815 following the Bathwick Water Act which prohibited nude bathing in the river, the site has been closed since 1984. It has since deteriorated and was placed on English Heritage’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register.

The project will conserve the Georgian features and upgrade the facilities to allow for year-round swimming and other activities. The pools will be naturally treated and heated using the latest technology, and when complete, there will be a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and café for the public to enjoy.

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The Bath Dolphin Swimming Club at the Cleveland Pools in 1910. © Bath in Time.

The project will also bring the historic stories of the Pools to life, including that of the eccentric swimming teacher Captain Evans who lived on the site with his pet baboon and would entertain visitors by being hoisted 100ft into the air and diving into the pool wearing a top hat to cushion his entry. 

Ros Kerslake, Chief executive of HLF, said: “We are delighted that the National Lottery are able to support this outstanding project which will see this unique Grade II* Lido restored and re-opened so that the community can enjoy access to its open air pools in a spectacular heritage setting. It seems particularly appropriate as the pool was originally funded in Georgian times by public subscription”

Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies MBE, who has been a long-time supporter and patron for the project, said of the success: “I am absolutely thrilled that the long campaign to restore Cleveland Pools has been awarded support by the Heritage Lottery Fund. I have watched the Trust work tirelessly for a long time in their attempt to save this historic riverside venue, and reviving it for swimming and as an heritage site will bring huge joy to the community and visitors.

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Swimming is a great way of keeping active in a time where many of us spend the day sat in front of a computer, and being outdoors in a natural landscape brings something special to the experience.  I think the restored Pools will be the new jewel in Bath’s crown and I hope to be one of the first to swim there when they reopen.”

Paul Simons, Chair of the Cleveland Pools trustees, has given Bath Newseum the following interview.

Community group The Cleveland Pools Trust, have been working since 2004 to enable the restoration of the Georgian lido and bring it back into use. The Trust has always been encouraged by the families and children on the Bathwick estate and wider area who are enthusiastic to see the revival of this unique swimming pool.  The Trust is delighted to be able to continue to work with residents who see the benefit of this facility within their own community.

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© Wessex Water archives

As landowner, Bath & North East Somerset Council has worked closely with the Trust, supporting it with a limited amount of grant funding and backing the Trust’s restoration scheme and bid for the Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Councillor Paul Myers, cabinet member for Economic and Community Regeneration, gave the following interview:

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.

About the Cleveland Pools Trust

The Cleveland Pools Trust was formed in 2004 to work toward conserving the original buildings and restoring outdoor swimming in the idyllic and historic setting as an asset to the local community and through Bath’s World Heritage Site status to the wider world. For more information visit www.clevelandpools.org.uk

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