Britain’s oldest surviving open-air swimming baths are set to be fully restored and reopened to the public.
The Grade II-listed Cleveland Pools – a 200-year-old Georgian lido in the historic city of Bath – has secured £4.7 million of National Lottery funding to enable the restoration to begin.
In the shape of a miniature crescent, referencing Bath’s renowned architecture, the site includes two bathing pools, the original changing rooms and a private ladies pool.
First opened in 1815 following the Bathwick Water Act which prohibited nude bathing in the river, the site has been closed since 1984.
The project will conserve the Georgian features and upgrade the facilities to allow for year-round swimming and other activities.
The pools will be naturally treated and heated using the latest technology, and when complete, there will be a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and cafe for the public to enjoy.
The project will also bring the historic stories of the pools to life, including that of the eccentric swimming teacher Captain Evans who lived on the site with his pet baboon and would entertain visitors by being hoisted 100 feet into the air and diving into the pool wearing a top hat to cushion his entry.
The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will cover a significant amount of the £5.7 million costs for the entirety of the restoration project.
Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, who has been a long-time supporter and patron for the project, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the long campaign to restore Cleveland Pools has been awarded support by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“I have watched the Trust work tirelessly for a long time in their attempt to save this historic riverside venue, and reviving it for swimming and as an heritage site will bring huge joy to the community and visitors.
“I think the restored pools will be the new jewel in Bath’s crown and I hope to be one of the first to swim there when they reopen.”
Paul Simons, chairman of the Cleveland Pools trustees, said: “After 14 years hard work the Trust’s efforts have finally succeeded in guaranteeing the future of this unique place and community asset.
“Our thanks also go to the many hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to get us to this point, and the thousands of others who have expressed their support for the scheme over the years.”
Ros Kerslake, chief executive of Heritage Lottery Fund, added: “We are delighted that the National Lottery are able to support this outstanding project which will see this unique Grade II lido restored and re-opened so that the community can enjoy access to its open air pools in a spectacular heritage setting.
“It seems particularly appropriate as the pool was originally funded in Georgian times by public subscription.”