Pools Trust is​ back in the swim.

Pools Trust is​ back in the swim.

It wasn’t the best of presents to receive just before Christmas. Cleveland Pools Trust and their many supporters ended 2017 on a real downer after hearing that their application for Heritage Lottery funding to restore these unique pools had been rejected.

However, the HLF held out a glimmer of hope when – at a meeting with the Trust in January this year – officials confirmed that they considered the approved plans set out a really strong foundation for the future of the pools – but there were outstanding issues that needed managing first.


Cleveland Pools © Cleveland Pools Trust

Buoyed on by this the Trust has just submitted another application to the HLF.

A spokesperson told Bath Newseum:

“Since the New Year, the trustees have been working hard to address these issues. Councillors and senior officers of Bath and North East Somerset have committed support and work by Curo to repair the retaining wall on the site is about to start.
On Thursday 15 March the Trust submitted another application to the HLF. This application is the first round and will enable the Trust to prepare and submit a second-round application which, if successful, will release funds to carry out the restoration of the pools.

If successful with the new submission the programme is as follows:
Achieve HLF approval; December 2018
Confirm project funding; spring 2019
Issue tender documents; autumn 2019
Commence works on site; spring 2020
Open the Pools to the public; summer 2021.
The trustees are extremely grateful for the enthusiasm expressed by supporters and will continue to work with them to achieve a very special facility for local people and visitors. A liaison group of key stakeholders including close neighbours will be established under an independent chair, to work with the Trust and contractors to ensure that the construction period goes as smoothly as possible.
Chair of the Trust, Paul Simons, said: “The Cleveland Pools Trust has been delighted with the re-affirmation of support for the project from its many hundreds of enthusiasts: local residents and volunteers, swimmers, families and schools, heritage campaigners, and those who have pledged to support the project financially. We are determined to work with them to achieve a truly remarkable and unique facility”.
For your further information:

The Cleveland Pools Trust has been running a campaign to save the 200-year-old riverside pools on the eastern edge of Bath in Somerset for 13 years.
The Cleveland Pools are 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 Pleasure Baths’ – as they were known for many years – were opened originally in 1817 to gentlemen bathers only, funded with private subscriptions from ‘the great and the good’ of Bath.
The Cleveland Pools site is listed Grade 2-star by Historic England and is one of only two buildings situated in the World Heritage Site of the City of Bath that appear on the national ‘Buildings at Risk’ register.
Plans are to include a 25-metre pool and a smaller children’s pool which would both be heated during the summer months. A Kiosk cafe and terrace are also proposed, along with full access for those with impaired mobility. On-site works would have been due to commence in November 2018 for an Easter 2020 completion.
The scheme has received overwhelming public support which demonstrates the huge demand for outdoor swimming to be restored to the citizens of Bath and North East Somerset.
The scheme for restoration has been granted full planning permission and listed building consent by Bath & North East Somerset Council. The council is also the owner of the site.
Look up their website – www.clevelandpools.org.uk. 



‘Lifeline’ for Cleveland Pools?

‘Lifeline’ for Cleveland Pools?

Seems all is not lost when it comes to the restoration of Bath’s historic Cleveland Pools – following a meeting of trustees with representatives from the Heritage Lottery Fund who had officially turned down a Stage 2 bid to secure their final grant of 4.1 million to help restore this former Georgian lido beside the River Avon.

HLF have said they will work with the Trust to submit another application for funding – but a press release does not give any indication as to how long all this might take.


Cleveland Pools


Here’s the press statement, released this morning:

“Following the decision of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to turn down the Stage 2 application for funding to restore the Cleveland Pools in Bath, the trustees of the project have met with representatives of the HLF to discuss the reasons behind this decision.

The meeting, held on 11th January, was encouraging, with the Heritage Lottery Fund confirming that they consider the approved plans set out a really strong foundation for the future of the Pools. This has given the Cleveland Pools Trust cause for optimism as it continues with its efforts to revive the historic pools for swimming and recreation for the people of Bath and beyond.

The trustees

The Cleveland Pools Trust team: Paul Simons (new Chair), Ann Dunlop, Andy Mullett, Sally Helvey, Fred Parkinson, Suzy Granger, Ina Harris and Roger Houghton.

Outstanding issues need to be resolved by the Cleveland Pools Trust but both they and the Heritage Lottery Fund believe that this can be done satisfactorily along with the full cooperation and commitment of Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES).

The Cleveland Pools Trust will now work with the Heritage Lottery Fund to resolve existing issues, and submit a new project application.

This reprieve has been welcomed by the Cleveland Pools Trust’s new Chairman Paul Simons who has been with the project for five years. He succeeds Ann Dunlop who, after 13 years in the role, will become the Trust’s Honorary President while remaining an active trustee.

Ann Dunlop says: “The Heritage Lottery Fund have indicated they will work with the Cleveland Pools Trust to submit another application for the restoration scheme which got full planning approval by B&NES last year. We remain committed to achieving the project’s aims and will work tirelessly to bring this to fruition as quickly as possible”.

Paul Simons says: “The Cleveland Pools Trust has been delighted with the re-affirmation of support for the project from its many hundreds of enthusiasts: local residents and volunteers, swimmers, families and schools, heritage campaigners, and those who have pledged to support the project financially. We are determined to work with them to achieve a truly remarkable and unique facility”.

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, says: “We’ve supported the Cleveland Pools Trust over the last three years to find a solution for this complex site’s needs, and recognise the huge amount of work that the Trust has carried out. Cleveland Pools is a special and significant part of our heritage, with a clear need for restoration, and we will continue to work with the Cleveland Pools Trust to develop a new project application, and resolve the outstanding issues.”

LATEST: Vice Chair, Ina Harris told Bath Newseum – Saturday morning- 

“We are entering into discussions with our supporters, such as B&NES and the Architectural Heritage Fund, to plan a way forward and the timeline will then become clearer.”
What Cleveland Pools Trust want for Christmas.

What Cleveland Pools Trust want for Christmas.

Don’t know what you’re hoping Santa brings you for Christmas but l do know supporters of the Cleveland Pools Trust are hoping it might be a big fat cheque from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Actually, we’ll have to wait to the New Year to find out whether they have been successful in their Stage 2 bid to secure their final £4.1m grant request to help restore this historic open-air lido.

The Trust has released a picture showing a recent visit from representatives of the HLF who spent the day going through plans on site and scrutinising the venture’s business case.

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HLF visitors at the Cleveland Pools with some of the Trust’s supporting team.

In a Christmas message to supporters the Trust said: ” We felt it went well, although we still have to find £141,000 from a revised fundraising target of £869,000. We do have some promising pledges to help bring it down, and the result of the bid in the New Year could make all the difference.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 11.54.52

The charity chalet is next to the taxi rank in Orange Grove.

In the meantime, the Trust has been given the charity chalet at the Bath Christmas Market on this coming Sunday, November 26th from 10 am to 6pm to sell a range of merchandise including the brand new Christmas card “Snowman at the Pools’ which has been designed by graphic artist, Catherine Phelps.

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The new ‘Snowman at the Pools’ card.

A temple of convenience.

A temple of convenience.

Bath’s Sydney Gardens has a long and illustrious history.

Laid out as commercially-run 18th century pleasure grounds –  in which even Jane Austen herself would have strolled – the site was taken over by the old Bath City Council in 1908 and opened to the public.

sydney gardens

The main driveway through Sydney Gardens. 

These days – as we live in an age of austerity – the park has an air of faded glory.

It certainly needs some ‘TLC’ – which hopefully will come as a result of Heritage Lottery funding. An application for nearly four million pounds will be going in next year.

If successful – according to the B&NES website – ‘The funding will be used to restore historic buildings, invest in landscape and garden restoration works, and create new play areas for all ages, over a three year programme (2019 – 21).

sydney gardens

Winter sunshine in Sydney Gardens

Alongside the works, a programme of events and activities around art, nature, horticulture, wildlife, play, sport, archaeology and history will be put on.

The project will celebrate the fascinating history of the gardens, with its Cosmorama, Labyrinth, Merlins Swing, Concerts, Public Breakfasts, Galas and Illuminations.’

Someone who takes a keen interest in all this is Kirsten Elliott – a  local author and historian – who also gives guided walks around the city’s parks.


Kirsten Elliott – author and local historian.

She’s excited about one particular original feature – added when the Council bought the old Georgian ‘Vauxhall’ – but until now hidden and forgotten in the overgrown bushes.

It’s what celebrity author (Lady) Lucinda Lambton – who writes about architecture – would describe as a ‘temple of convenience.’ A cast-iron Edwardian ladies loo.

Kirsten took Bath Newseum along to have a look.

These days Bath’s public loos have been taken over by a private company who provide ‘well-maintained’ facilities that are accessed via a 20 pence piece.

sydney gardens

The existing facilities in Sydney Gardens

We have come a long way since the days of ‘spending a penny’ haven’t we. Out of interest, l can explain where that description of the ‘call of nature’ came from.

It’s all to do with the Great Exhibition – the world’s first trade fair – which opened in Joseph Paxton’s amazing Crystal Palace in 1851.


The Great Exhibition © Wikipedia


Over six million people visited so it was, with some relief l am sure, that the exhibition also featured the UK’s first paid-for flushing toilet when visitors spent one penny to experience a clean toilet seat, a towel, a comb and a shoe shine.

Records show that 675,000 pennies were spent!

That’s the way to do it! The re-birth of Weston-super-Mare’s Town Museum.

That’s the way to do it! The re-birth of Weston-super-Mare’s Town Museum.

More than two and a half thousand people turned up last Saturday ( August 26th) to look around the newly-reopened town museum at Weston-super-Mare.


The exterior of the Grade 2 listed building in Burlington Street.

I know this website concerns itself with Bath but – as someone who claims that west coast town as his birthplace – l seized the opportunity to pop down and be shown around the place by the man who chairs the committee responsible for its rebirth – Cllr John Crockford-Hawley.


L to R. Cllr John Crockford-Hawley and my friend Peter Steel – on our tour of the newly re-vamped facility.

You’ll find the museum in the former Gas Company workshops in Burlington Street – a site it has occupied since 1974.

However, this is its third town location, as a museum has existed in Weston for 155 years – making it just ten years younger than the V & A and ten years older than Bristol City Museum.


Plenty of colourful displays and ‘hands-on’ fun for youngsters.

To complete the business plan – there is a tripartite agreement between Weston Town Council which owns the building, North Somerset Council which owns the collection, and the South West Heritage Trust which curates the collection.


Milk churns and platform porters.

The project has largely been covered by the Heritage Lottery Fund – which provided £346,000 more than the town council asked for – with further money coming from the Coastal Communities Fund, Garfield Trust and Arts Council England.

The building has been closed for two years to enable a new roof – with automatic opening windows – to be installed.

They’ve also added a lift to open up the second floor to those with disabilities and a cafe – selling local produce – is ‘in-house’ -allowing profits to flow back into the museum.


No ‘tat’ in the museum shop!

Donations are obviously welcome and there’s a bright little shop area – selling everything from local history books to china mugs and reproduction carbolic soap – adding to the all-important extra income.

Bright new display areas, new balconies and a re-configured staircase has opened up areas for exhibition and performance.


A view down into the body of the museum’s main hall from one of the new balconies. To the right is another exhibition room that can also be used for lectures and conferences.

Most of the museum’s vast collection is stored at Taunton but there will be a regular flow of items – no doubt – to refresh displays.


Come face to face with some of Weston’s former inhabitants!

I have to say having ‘less’ has turned out to provide ‘more’ in the way of impact. You no longer have to shuffle past past endless displays of  somewhat cluttered and drably displayed objects.

There is a real – brightly-lit and information-rich flow of artefacts which explore Weston’s long history – from primitive man to its ascendancy as a Victorian seaside resort.


Memories of paddle steamers!

As an ‘old boy’ myself – l have to say the ‘Wyatt smile’ widened with every new display that triggered memory and took me back – for instance – to the days of the Open Air Swimming Pool – with its gushing fountain and high diving board – or the bracing summer days of Channel cruising on the old Bristol and Cardiff Queens.

This little boy’s heart would beat fast as he ran down the once firm-planks of the jetty on Birnbeck Pier to board one of those wonderful smoke-belching Campbell steamers that promised Knickerbocker Glory ice-creams as soon as we docked – down Channel –  at Ilfracombe.


The ‘sponsored’ wooden blocks in the floor. The whole of the town’s high street was once lined with wooden blocks too.

Community involvement is strong with sponsored woodblocks that you can purchase to help coat the museum floor and a special display area given over to groups and clubs in the town to promote their place – and history – in the town.


Here’s where the community can make its mark.

There were more memories for me of the penny in the slot automatons l viewed on the old Grand Pier. They were always depicting gruesome executions or ghouls rising from the grave – but you got a childlike thrill knowing there was glass between you and the stuff of nightmares.


The electric chair! An original automaton that used to give me nightmares after being viewed as a young boy on the ‘old’ Grand Pier.

Meet the ‘Lord of the Manor’ – a couple painted by no-less-than Bath-based Thomas Gainsborough himself – and lots of other canvasses depicting the town’s history in the first real Weston-dedicated gallery the museum has ever boasted.


The new art gallery.

I could go on but l want you to go look for yourselves. Burlington Street is a bit out of the way but there is now good signage and even little museum symbols on the pavement to guide you into the back streets from The Boulevard.


Museum logo markings on the pavement help lead you to the front door in Burlington Street.

Details of opening ties and directions can be found on the museum website via www.http://westonmuseum.org

This is the biggest project the Town Council has undertaken and there are plans to start developing phase 2 of the museum which will bring in the rear courtyard, back of house areas and Clara’s Cottage.

Makes a refreshing change to say that here is a little gem that Weston-super-Mare can be truly proud of.








Let’s be seated.

Let’s be seated.

Good to see the benches in Sydney Gardens are getting the repair ‘promised’ in labels stuck onto their previously much-battered forms.


The man working on them described it as ‘a temporary thing’ while everyone concentrates on the Heritage Lottery Fund application that may unlock millions towards a real ‘re-birth’ for this former Georgian pleasure gardens.



Stand by Bath – for the ‘battle’ of the pews.

Stand by Bath – for the ‘battle’ of the pews.

Bath Abbey’s plans to permanently remove the 19th-century pews in the church nave – after the floor has been repaired – have not gone down well with The Victorian Society.

It’s a London-based organisation that campaigns for the preservation of Victorian and Edwardian architecture.


Looking up the centre aisle of the nave towards the East end of Bath Abbey.

This autumn – probably October – it will be sending a barrister to ‘square up’ against the Abbey’s own legal team in an ecclesiastical court hearing which will decide whether the pews stay or go.


Should they stay or should they go? The ‘battle’ for the nave pews in Bath Abbey.

Church of England churches are exempt from the requirement to obtain listed building consent from local councils. Decisions are instead made by the Chancellor of each diocese – a lawyer appointed by the church to adjudicate on these matters.

The pews were designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott – the architect of St Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial. He was one of the most successful and highly respected church architects of the period and his major restoration of Bath Abbey in 1859-74 was intended to ‘complete’ the church as it would have been if the Reformation had not stopped its construction.

Scott completed the stone fan vaulting above the nave and designed a chandelier lighting system for the church – as well as designing the pews, which were modelled on those in other 16th-century Somerset churches.

Christopher Costelloe, Victorian Society Director, said: ‘Bath Abbey is one of the best examples of Victorian church restoration by perhaps the era’s most prominent architect – Sir George Gilbert Scott.

There is no doubt that removing these pews would harm this Grade 1 listed church’s significance, and there is no need for such drastic changes in a thriving church when other options are available. The last decade or so has seen Victorian church schemes ripped out all over the country and once they’re gone they’re gone for good.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey interior

Bath Abbey has a different point of view and is at the start of a massive multi-million-pound project – boosted by the Heritage Lottery Fund – to deal with the threat of the church floor collapsing because of massive holes discovered beneath it. They have been created as a result of the six thousand odd people who have been buried below the stone flooring.

It means all the fixed furniture – including the pews – will have to be lifted as the repair is carried out – section by section – so the Abbey can stay in business throughout.

According to Charles Curnock – Director of the Footprint Project – once the floor has been stabilised and underfloor heating, powered by energy from the hot spring nearby, installed – they intend reinstating the hand-carved Corporation Pews and most of the machine-tooled pews behind them.


An illustration showing how the nave might look without its pews.

However, they want to leave the nave clear – the way it was when the church was built. It would mean people would get a clear view of the hundreds of ledger stones that have been hidden beneath the pews for nearly 180 years.

It would also give the Abbey more flexibility in how the space was used – with chairs replacing pews for seated events – allowing different layouts for gatherings big and small. It would improve access for those with disability issues and allow visitors more freedom in exploring the church.


Chairs would replace the nave pews – making for more flexible use of the space. These chairs were just spotted in the Abbey. I am not saying they would be the type that would be used.

The Victorian Society argue that the pews have protected the ancient ledger stones from heavy foot traffic and that just removing the pews from the aisles would ease the flow of visitors.


The removal of the pews would allow people to see more of the ancient ledger stones, says the Abbey. The Victorian Society says the pews have helped protect them.

They have launched an online petition – which has attracted over a thousand signatures – and say the complete removal of the nave pews would ‘ strip the Abbey of a major layer of its interest and richness, permanently harming the interior.’

Bath Abbey feels this is an opportunity to change how the floor space can be used to better serve the city, its visitors and future generations.  That an open nave will release the Abbey’s potential as a place for worship, celebration and community events in a way it previously hasn’t been able to offer.


Bath Abbey

The Victorian Society will now be a ‘party opponent’ at a Consistory Court hearing later this year, regarding the permanent removal of pews from Bath Abbey.

They will have a barrister present to argue their case before the Chancellor makes his decision.  Bath Abbey will also be legally represented.

Both sides seem confident they will win the day. A date for that has yet to be announced.