The 'great and the good of Bath' played a major role in the original creation of the Cleveland Pools. An advert ran in the Bath Chronicle newspaper on 20th July 1815 asking for subscriptions from those gentlemen wishing “...to provide a place in connection with the River, where those who swim and those who do not will be alike accommodated ". Contributions poured in and the Pools were an immediate success.
THE STORY SO FAR
Hidden away in Bathwick, on the banks 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. 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.
The restoration will be carried out as sympathetically as possible, with the intention of providing a 25-metre main pool using naturally-treated and heated water, leaving space for mechanical plant and servicing (see below for one possible design). Alternative energy sources will be used once the changing cubicles and refreshment areas are reinstated, and the cottage will house an exhibition.
For the site to run itself it will not just be used as a unique swimming venue; this important sporting and heritage asset will be perfect for many water-related training opportunities, small corporate events, weddings, historical outings and children’s parties. Volunteers will help to enhance events, taking into consideration the concerns of all immediate neighbours. Flora and fauna will also be taken into account during and after renovations.
The Cleveland Pools Trust has been in discussion with B&NES since 2004 about a long-term lease and, with financial help from the Architectural Heritage Fund, it commissioned a feasibility study into future use of the site. Since then, with a grant from English Heritage, a further programme of assessment took place which culminated in a Business Plan and a submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Much remains to be done if we are to succeed in obtaining an HLF grant and we will be relying heavily on public support. It is our strong belief that our more viable model for the Pools is the way to secure its future.
Join our expanding campaign as we work towards the bicentenary celebrations in July 2015 and one day you may be able to tell your grandchildren that you helped save one of Bath’s finest Georgian heritage assets.