In 1934, members of the British Olympic swimming team had the honour of being the first to take a dip in England’s only outdoor lido fed by thermal spring water, in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. It was hoped the new attraction at the famed New Bath Hotel would re-invigorate tourism in the area.
However, like many historic lidos, it appeared the pool's glory days were long past. Despite surviving the massive decline in outdoor pool usage and closures of the 1960s and 1970s, the closure of the New Bath Hotel in 2013 almost sealed the fate of the lido.
Yet, on Friday 21 June, exactly 85 years since the pool first opened and in much better weather, a different story unfolded. Two of the country’s most decorated Olympic, Commonwealth and Paralympic athletes repeated history and plunged into the pool, celebrating its relaunch following a £3m refurbishment of the hotel.
Ross Davenport, who won two gold medals in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and represented the country at both the Olympics, World and European championships, was joined by Ryan Taylor, celebrated Paralympian who won gold at the 2017 Edmonton ITU World Paratriathlon Series and represented Britain at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The pair cut the ribbon with the Mayor of Matlock, Councillor David Hughes, as a sheaf of white heather was once again tossed into the clear waters for good luck as it was in 1934.
Much of the swimming area has been restored back to its original 1930s splendour. The warm springs of Matlock Bath – which have been renowned for their ‘miracle’ healing capabilities since the 17th century – circulate constantly throughout the lido and the 40-yard pool is surrounded by lawns and shrubs, a tennis court and scenically backed by the Derwent’s breath-taking limestone cliffs on one side and woods of Masson on the other.
Richard Devine, manager of the New Bath Hotel, says: “The lido is a much-cherished part of the Matlock Bath and it’s a fantastic achievement to be able to secure its future for generations to come. I have to say a massive thank you to the staff and volunteers that have worked so hard to make it happen together with the fantastic support and involvement of the hotel’s owners who have been thrilled with the reaction to its re-launch. It’s a proud day for the New Bath Hotel as we’ve celebrated the return of a fantastic asset for Peak District tourism.”
The New Bath Hotel is situated at New Bath Road, Matlock Bath, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3PX.
More information: www.newbathhotelandspa.com