Western Daily Press reports: “The oldest surviving open-air swimming baths in the UK, in Bath, are set to be fully restored and reopened to the public.
The Grade II listed Cleveland Pools – a 200-year-old Georgian lido – has secured funding of £4.1 million, including a development grant of £366,200, from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The restoration project, run by community group The Cleveland Pools Trust, will conserve the Georgian features and upgrade the facilities to allow for year-round swimming and other activities.
When complete, the site will include a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and cafe. The pools will be naturally treated and heated using the latest technology.”
“The pools first opened in 1815 following the Bathwick Water Act which prohibited nude bathing in the river.
Laid out in the shape of a miniature Georgian crescent, the site includes two bathing pools, the original changing rooms and a private ladies pool.
They are one of only a small number of pre-Victorian sporting buildings to survive nationally and are thought to be the oldest swimming baths of its type in Western Europe.
The site closed to the public in 1978 and after finally closing altogether in 1984 was briefly used as a trout farm.”
Nude bathing (or skinny dipping) once common on river and lake-sides throughout the UK was responsible not only for the construction of swimming pools such as this, but also for a shift in cultural attitudes towards outdoor swimming. See Hung Out to Dry, Swimming and British Culture – Chapter 3 Sex, Sea and Swimming Trunks, and Chapter 5 Lidos Open, Rivers Close. More…