Show your support for the Georgian lido.

Show your support for the Georgian lido.

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.

cleveland pools

Cleveland Pools

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:^refval^=’16/05632/FUL’&history=f40718c794554c9fb49c4e6007f70d33&SearchLayer=DCApplications

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.


Thank you very much in anticipation.’  

Have your say this week – on plans to re-open Bath’s historic Cleveland Pools

Have your say this week – on plans to re-open Bath’s historic Cleveland Pools

Many Bath locals will remember swimming in the open air Cleveland Pools with great affection. The exciting plans for the historic pools’ renovation and future use are on display for the first time this week.

cleveland pools

Cleveland Pools.

As part of a public consultation exercise the concept designs have been displayed at a stand in Southgate, Bath, on Monday and Tuesday this week, and then outside GAP in Milsom Street all day on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 April 2016.IMG_7915

Members of the Trust and its design team will be available to explain the thinking behind the development of the present concept design and to answer any questions.

An online survey will be available for the start of the consultation from Monday 25th April on the Trust’s website which will include an explanation of the development of the design and a short survey form for comment.IMG_7920

Your involvement in the Public Consultation is important for two reasons:

  • To ensure that we provide the best project possible for the people of Bath;
  • To demonstrate the community’s involvement and support in developing our plans to the HLF, which will encourage them to provide a grant for the restoration work.

Project Programme: The Trust will be submitting a second stage funding application to the HLF this Autumn seeking grant funding of £3.7m. The goal is to have the pool open for swimming early in 2018.

Fundraising: the Trust needs to raise £600,000 partnership funding before January next year and has recently set up an appeal board to help reach this target. For more information about the project please look at the website or contact the Trust at

Cleveland Pools dig.

Cleveland Pools dig.


Archaeological investigations, funded by Historic England, have just been completed in the Ladies Perpetual Shower Bath building at Bath’s historic  Cleveland Pools.

The following report – and photographs – have been supplied  by Sally Helvey who is both a trustee and in charge of marketing at The Cleveland Pools Trust.

This is a group of people who – with their supporters – are actively campaigning for the restoration of this the only surviving Georgian open air lido in the country – which is hidden away on the banks of the River Avon at Bathwick.

According to their website – – ” It is historically unique and located in one of the most beautiful spots in Bath. Many thousands of local people have learned to swim here, enjoyed their weekends here, and brought their families to this idyllic place. Sadly the lido closed down in 1984.

The Cleveland Pools Trust, a registered charity, exists to restore and reclaim the pools for outdoor swimming.

And now, thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, English Heritage and Bath & North East Somerset Council, we are part way to raising the funding to make this dream a reality. We need your help to raise the remaining £400,000 by Autumn 2016 so work can begin by the end of next year.’

Sally tells us : ‘The (recent) excavation work, carried out by Brian Gibbons and Matthew O’Donovan from Cliveden Conservation, took just over a week to complete.

The investigations took place to establish evidence of the Ladies Plunge Pool, a bath built just for women in 1817 when gentlemen had begun visiting the adjacent river-fed swimming pool with its 12 ‘changing apartments’.


Peter Davenport, from Cotswold Archaeology.

Peter Davenport, from Cotswold Archaeology, was appointed to carry out the most delicate part of the dig and record his findings.


The pool shape and surrounding stonework were found to be in keeping with the historic maps the Trust have of the site so Peter and the team didn’t need to dig down very far.


The men in the group photo inside the Ladies Pool Building are (left to right): Peter Carey, chief architect on our Design Team, from Donald Insall Associates, Peter Davenport from Cotswold Archaeology Ltd, Tom Flemons from Cliveden Conservation, Cleveland Pools Project Director Christopher Heath, and Brian Gibbons from Cliveden Conservation.

When they tried, however, to find how many steps there were down into the pool, the space kept filling up with water. This is no doubt as to why the pool was called a ‘perpetual shower bath’!



A close up of the threshold stone.

Two interesting pieces of pottery were found amongst the soil and rubble: a small undamaged ginger beer jar (or possibly an inkwell), and part of a child’s alphabet mug. Despite being buried for about 150 years, the jar is in almost perfect condition.


Holding the ‘treasure’ is Matthew O’Donovan from Cliveden Conservation.

Also, the existence of a doorway in the west corner was confirmed when the wall cladding was taken off and part of its threshold step was found, showing wear on both sides (the square-shaped stone is between the ditch and the entrance of the Ladies Pool Building in this picture).


The holes made are now covered over so that the Ladies Pool Building can now be reclaimed for visitors and site maintenance volunteers.’

Fund raising dip into bathing history.

Fund raising dip into bathing history.

A dip into bathing costume history!

A dip into bathing costume history! Click on images to enlarge.

Bath Spa University students and other ‘brave’ supporters of the Cleveland Pools Project took part in a fashion show with a difference at Bath’s Green Park Station on Saturday evening – May 9th.

More fetching beachwear from the past!

More fetching beachwear from the past!

Called ‘200 Years of Bathing in Bath’ this catwalk event was all about the evolution of the bathing costume.

It provided a good illustration of how it wasn’t just the water that brought about a ‘shrinking’ of the amount of material you covered yourself in when it came to taking a dip.

The event was in aid of raising funds to help restore and re-open Britain’s last open air Georgian lido which just happens to be one of Bath’s hidden treasures!

Honoured to do the opening! Picture with Trustee and compere Paul Simons.

Honoured to do the opening! Picture with Trustee and compere Paul Simons.

The Bathwick-based and currently derelict complex will celebrate its 200th anniversary this July.

A bit of a 'beach poser' from the past!

A bit of a ‘beach poser’ from the past!

There were lots of amusing anecdotes about the practice of bathing over the years to go with a pacey stroll through our seaside history with Trustee Paul Simons – suitably dressed – doing the commentary.

The Virtual Museum had a chat with him and with Jenny Brown – the main organiser of the show.

Find out more about the Cleveland Pools Trust and Project via

New look for Cleveland Pools

New look for Cleveland Pools


The new logo for Cleveland Pools

The new logo for Cleveland Pools

A sneak preview of the new logo for the Cleveland Pools Trust which is going to be officially launched at Easter – though you can see it on their website and Facebook page

The new imagery and logo has been produced by Steve Richardson, the Creative Director at Mr B & Friends in Bath as part of the re-branding programme for the Pools.

A spokesperson for the Trust told the Virtual Museum: ‘We wish to extend our sincere thanks to Steve for volunteering his time and effort on this, not least ‘wow-ing’ us with his interpretations of the new-look Cleveland Pools when our marketing working group met earlier this month.

We shall be officially launching the logo when the re-vamping of our website is complete, and this should in time for Easter.’lido

It’s a frantic week for the Trust as an application for HLF funds to attain the much-needed funds to fully restore the Cleveland Pools is going in at the beginning of April and they will face a nail-biting wait of about three months before finding out if it has been successful. B&NES have already promised a further £200,000 if the Lottery funds are approved.

The Pools complex – on the bank of the River Avon – is the country’s only surviving Georgian lido. Built in 1815 in the shape of a small crescent, it was one of the earliest examples of a ‘Subscription Pool’ – built with private money for public use.

© Wessex Water archives

© Wessex Water archives

For decades the formerly named ‘Cleveland Pleasure Pools’ were a favourite summer destination of generations of people from Bath and beyond.

By 1861 this glorious open-air venue had become so popular that the Victorians added a children’s upper pool.

Sadly the Pools closed in 1984 when public funds were re-directed to the Sports Centre, but now the Cleveland Pools Trust – in partnership with the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, English Heritage and Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) – is finally making headway with its campaign to restore the Grade II* baths and reclaim them for outdoor swimming.

Georgian Lido gets keys to the door!

Georgian Lido gets keys to the door!

P1060309They may yet have to convince Bath and North East Somerset Council AND the Heritage Lottery Fund that it’s a piece of Bath’s heritage worth saving but at least the Cleveland Pools Trust have  finally been given the keys to the historic lido site beside the River Avon.

Now at least they can store spades and cutting equipment at the country’s only Georgian open-air swimming pool still in existence – instead of having to take them away every time they do clearance work.

The Pools – funded by a public subscription – were opened in 1815 and swimming continued there right through to 1984 when – after a brief life as a trout farm – the complex has lain derelict.P1060319

The Trust has already held a corporate launch and is also planning a community one. They have former Olympic champion Sharron Davies on board too. This week-end – Friday to Sunday September 13th until the 15th – the lido will be open for the public to take a look around.

I asked Ann Dunlop – the Chair of the Trust – what having the keys to the door meant.


City Library gets in the Georgian swim!

City Library gets in the Georgian swim!

After last week’s successful corporate launch – at which former Olympic champion Sharron Davies gave her support – the campaign to raise £3 million to restore the country’s last remaining Georgian Lido – moves to a new location to plead for public backing.

Edward Holland (PRT), Sally Helvey (CPT Marketing Co-ordinator), trustees Linda Watts & Ann Dunlop (Chair), Sharron Davies MBE, trustees Ina Harris & Ainslie Ensom, and Manuela Belle (PRT). Jeni Meade Photography

Edward Holland (PRT), Sally Helvey (CPT Marketing Co-ordinator), trustees Linda Watts & Ann Dunlop (Chair), Sharron Davies MBE, trustees Ina Harris & Ainslie Ensom, and Manuela Belle (PRT).
Jeni Meade Photography

Swimmer Sharron was at the Bath Spa Hotel to throw her weight behind an appeal being mounted by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust – in collaboration with the Cleveland Pool Trust – to raise the money needed to transform the Grade 2 listed pools complex at Bathwick, which closed to the public in 1984.

It’s hoped the money would provide a sports facility – within a heritage site – and sponsorship packages are available from £250 to £25,000 to help fund the different parts of the project. Anything from restoring the Georgian changing cubicles to providing a bike stand!P1050604

Trustees Ainslie Esom and Ina Harris beside one of the Pools boards at Bath Central Library

Trustees Ainslie Ensom and Ina Harris beside one of the Pools boards at Bath Central Library

Now this week people are being asked to come along and show their support for the scheme with a special display at Bath’s Central Library.

© Wessex Water archives

© Wessex Water archives

That’s Monday to Saturday but excluding Wednesday.IMG_4407

Cleveland Pools volunteer Sally Helvey tells me: ‘We want to attract all generations. The older to recognise swimmers in our historical photos and the youngsters to get excited about swimming at the Pools in the future.

© Wessex Water archives

© Wessex Water archives

Trustee Ina Harris will be running a little competition which will ask children to help re-write the original Rules of the Pools. They can also draw themselves swimming in them to win some sweeties.’

For more information on the campaign visit 

The Cleveland Pools will be organising limited opening to the public in September during the city’s annual Heritage Open Days.

© Wessex Water archives

© Wessex Water archives

That will be on Friday, September 13th, Saturday the 14th, and Sunday the 15th. Opening hours are between 2pm and 5pm on each day.

More information on this and other local venues involved via