Historic Pools of Britain – Winter Conference 2018

Report by Janet Martin.

Some of you will remember that the Historic Pools of Britain Association held their Summer 2018 conference here in Peterborough, visiting our very own historic lido.  Following this, their Winter conference took place on Thursday 11th October in nearby Northampton, meaning that attendance wasn’t too much of a challenge for Peterborians;  Jon Marsden and Steven Luker from Vivacity, together with our Chair Janet, attended and enjoyed another fascinating insight into the work taking place across the UK to ensure the preservation and conservation of many formerly neglected pools.

The conference was held in Northampton’s magnificent Guildhall, where we met with a number of familiar faces and heard updates from representatives of the Cleveland pool in Bath, and Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham.  Both campaigns have involved immense fundraising effort and community involvement requiring formal funding bids and trust status, but hopefully, both are now nearing successful outcomes.  Cleveland pool’s stage two funding bid to the Lottery Heritage Trust has now been submitted, with a response anticipated in December – we wish them well, as a “no” from the LHT will signal the end of the road for their ten-year campaign.  Do find a few minutes to have a look at their website http://www.clevelandpools.org.uk/ – the pool has unique qualities – and problems – and is the Country’s only surviving Georgian pool, with buildings constructed in the crescent formation for which Bath is famed.  

Hearing about these projects does remind us just how fortunate we are that, despite a few near misses, Peterborough Lido never actually closed; once such a facility has been neglected for a couple of years – and it doesn’t take long for saplings to start growing from the dilapidated concrete floor – millions of pounds and huge political persuasion is needed to set in motion the restoration and re-opening.

We also heard that the long-awaited Lido Guide – a definitive guide to everything you need to know about every Lido in the country – is now at the design stage, with the project on track to reach publication in Spring 2019.  Anyone wanting to know more about the guide, pledge their support or register their interest in purchasing the guide once published, can visit https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide for more information.

We then adjourned to the Mounts Baths, where a tasty lunch was followed by a tour of the pools, state of the art gym, health suite (sauna, heat rooms and Turkish plunge pool), and refurbished changing facilities – probably amongst the best to be seen in a public swimming pool.  The Art Deco building has an arched roof above the main pool, and as we visited at a quiet time of day – I was able to enjoy my first swim since the Friends’ post-season swim on 17th September!

Now that we have immersed ourselves in the activities of the Historic Pools Association, we are realising how much pool managers and supporters can learn from each other; and we, therefore, look forward to visiting more pools for future conferences. The organisers are once again to be thanked and congratulated for all that they do to support member pools, and for the momentum they have spurred amongst fellow lido lovers.

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