Historic Pools of Britain

June 14th 2018 A Report by Janet Martin. 

Historic Pools of Britain Summer Conference at Peterborough’s Key Theatre and Peterborough Lido.

Historic Pools of Britain was established in 2015 to give a voice to indoor and outdoor pools across the Country, reflecting both the importance of the role they play in the life of their communities and the significant contribution they make to Britain’s heritage. The group is made up of people who share the same passion we feel for our own lido, and were therefore fortunate that they decided to hold their 2018 Summer Conference here in Peterborough, which was generously hosted by Vivacity at the Key Theatre on 14th June.
Janet, Clare and Maggie from the Peterborough Lido Friends’ Committee, and Steven Luker (General Manager of the Lido and other Vivacity venues) attended the conference, gaining a fascinating insight into the energy and enthusiasm shared by both users and operators of pools across the Country.

Joe Stanhope is manager of the lido that is part of the Jubilee Park facility at Woodhall Spa, and gave a captivating presentation on his achievements since taking on the role eight years ago, turning a regular annual loss into thriving profit. Commercial involvement, staff management, even “the science bit” covering technical aspects of pool management were all enthusiastically shared and received. Together with Steven, members of the Friends’ Committee are now resolved to visit Woodhall Spa in the coming weeks, to learn all that we can from their success story. Steven is already feeling the pressure on his wallet!

 Paul Simon Trustee Chairman of Clevedon Pool.

We heard about the mammoth task – now in its fifteenth campaigning year – that is ongoing to restore the Cleveland pools at Bath under the Trustee Chairmanship of Paul Simons. Cleveland Pools is one of the oldest pools in Britain, dating back to 1815, and faces many unique challenges – such as restricted access that requires all construction materials to be transported to site by river barge! For anyone who thinks gaining Lottery Heritage funding is easy, this was a sombre lesson – and we wish them every success when they re-submit their final bid to the National Lottery in the coming months – they certainly deserve it.

We also heard from Emma Pusill who, together with Janet Wilkinson is writing a definitive guide to all 120  across the UK. Publisher support has now been obtained, and it is hoped the Guide will achieve publication next Spring; watch this space, as the book promises to whet the appetite of all us outdoor swimmers – as well as celebrating all that is to be treasured amid the heritage that is represented in the Country’s lidos and pools.

Round-the-table discussion gave much food for thought; why do some pools return a profit and others a loss (it was generally felt that those with adjoining facilities such as gyms, caravan parks, etc are the winners here); could more flexible lifeguard contracts solve the perennial problem of staff shortages and weather-dependent adjustments? What are the realities of banning photography within the poolside environment? Could – and should – local businesses be persuaded they have a part to play in supporting these community gems?
Vivacity’s own Steven Luker provided attendees with some of the fascinating history that lies behind Peterborough’s own Lido, before Janet then briefly discussed the formation of, and slow progress being made by the Friends. The conference ended – of course! – with a visit to our very own Lido, and feedback has been heart-warming, with delegates extolling our facility through later twitter feeds and other media outputs.

Vivacity’s Steven Luker addressing the Conference.

Before the conference, most of us were vaguely aware of the existence of the Historic Pools organisation; we are now absolute converts to their mission, and grateful for all that they do to “fight the corner” of historic pools like our own: Thank you Historic Pools … and we look forward to joining up with you again at future conferences around the Country.

Historic Pools Delegates before their Lido swim.

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