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?