Restoration work at Britain’s oldest lido to commence in spring

After a successful local fundraising campaign, restoration work at Cleveland Pools, the UK’s oldest public lido, is finally set to begin at the site in Spring 2021.

Built in 1815, the site first opened as a river fed pool, followed by a colourful history through the Victorian era to its heyday in the 1970s, until competition from the newly opened indoor Bath Sports and Leisure Centre saw Cleveland Pools finally close to swimming in 1984.

It was then for a short time used as a trout farm, but was threatened with demolition as an alternative to repair. In 2003 Bath and North East Somerset council, who own the site, put it up for sale, and it was added to the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register.

Thanks to the determination of three local people – Ann Dunlop, Janice Dreisbach and Roger Houghton – the Cleveland Pools Trust (CPT) was formed in 2004 to rescue the pools from dilapidation. In 2006, its listed building status was raised from II to II* as the Pools were considered ‘particularly important… of more than special interest’.

Thousands of supporters, many of whom have happy memories of swimming here before closure, then joined the campaign and today the CPT has many highly valued volunteers who give their time towards fundraising, local engagement, organising events and publicising progress.

“The campaign to restore the Pools has been ongoing for 17 years, but this year marks a significant step change as we finally start construction work to bring the site back to life for public use,” says Project director Anna Baker.

“We have recently completed a project with Matthew Croft of WithUs Studio to refresh our identity, to align with this new phase and remind the public of what the project is all about. We hope this will inspire others to find out more about the Pools, get involved, and next year come for a dip!”

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.