Heritage Open Days: Cleveland Pools

Yesterday NAH and I took advantage of the gorgeous sunshine to find one of Bath's best kept secrets: England's oldest outdoor pool. Twixt the river and the railway, Cleveland Pools is the only Georgian example, dating back to 1815. When NAH and I first moved to the south-west in 1984, it was still open to the public, but closed shortly afterwards. Until a few years ago, it was being used as a trout farm.

The buildings are in a state of severe disrepair - it's in English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register - but much of the complex is still visible. The main pool with its changing cabins was for the gentlemen: there was a tiny enclosed space housing one for the ladies and there's a separate childen's pool situated further up the hill. Apparently the spring-fed water was very cold and bathers used to leap into the adjacent river to warm up!

The pools aren't usually open, but are this weekend as part of the annual Heritage Open Days scheme. They're currently owned by the local council, but their sale to The Cleveland Pools Alliance is in the process of being agreed. The Alliance is hosting the weekend as an awareness/fundraising exercise and have plans for restoration of the pools to their former glory.

I particularly enjoyed overhearing a lady talking to her companion about bringing her children to the spot for picnics during the summer in the 1960s as it reminded me of similar childhood trips to Droitwich Lido. As the Alliance's display said: if towns with much smaller populations such as Droitwich and Shepton Mallet can support an outdoor pool, why not Bath?


  1. Never been there - how interesting.

  2. I've been to the botanical gardens in Cleveland, too! Cleveland, Ohio! :) The pools weren't quite as nice.

  3. I like outdoor pools too. Where I was bought up there was a rock platform by the cliffs which had a pool hewn out from the rocks, complete with steps and handrails. When the tide flooded it would fill and then when it ebbed it created a swimming pool - complete with the the occasional jelly fish!

    There is still a paddling pool on the seafront at Aberystwyth which is very popular in the summer. And another very good outdoor pool in Hathersage in the Peak District.

  4. Let's hope someone finds some money to repair that wonderful place.

  5. Hermes - I think you'd like it there

    Monica - the pools are in Bath, I believe they're named after the Duke of Cleveland

    Mark - there were loads of outdoor pools around here when we first moved down from the North East. Melksham had one and Chippenham's pool was where the flat expanse of grass is now in Monkton Park, by The Olympiad. It was a 50 yard pool too, so there was loads of space. It was a bit difficult doing backstroke during swimming training though as you tended to start following the clouds!

    Matron - I do hope so. However, I'm a bit concerned how there's going to be sufficient access and parking to make it viable.


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