Cleveland Pools

The Cleveland Pools in Bath, dating to the 19th-century, had a significant place in the hearts of the people of Bath and the surrounding region but remained closed and disused since the 1980s. This unique historic site with a rich cultural heritage has now undergone a comprehensive restoration thanks to a community-based campaign.

Cleveland Pools, Bath, UNITED KINGDOM

The project was initiated in 2004, when a campaign to oppose the sale of the site for commercial development gained significant support from heritage organisations in the city of Bath and at national level. This led to the development of proposals for the reuse of the site, with a focus on restoration and conservation, environmental sustainability, and the needs of children and people with disabilities.

The Cleveland Pools Trust, an independent registered charity and company, played a crucial role in the project by prioritising community engagement and involving large numbers of volunteers with a diverse range of backgrounds, skills and knowledge. The project received financial support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, Bath & North East Somerset Council, and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund, as well as from individual donors, charitable trusts and foundations, and crowdfunding.

Cleveland Pools, Bath, UNITED KINGDOM

The project has restored lost elements of the original aspect of the site as well as its function as a swimming pool. New facilities to complement and support this purpose have also been incorporated in a minimal and respectful way. The curved form of the original 1815 river-fed pool is evident and the symmetry of the main pool geometry has been restored, together with its primary relationship to the Crescent building; the separate children’s pool has been formed in what was a later extension of the pool. The installation of the water source heat pump now also allows for warm water swimming. The restored Cleveland Pools offer a unique experience of Bath’s heritage, allowing people to immerse themselves in the rich history of the city, while enjoying the benefits of open-air swimming.

Cleveland Pools, Bath, UNITED KINGDOM

The restoration project has won three major national awards for volunteer involvement, the preparation of interpretation materials and restoration. The completed project complements Bath’s internationally renowned Georgian heritage with the mini-crescent of unique historic buildings reflected in the main pool adding to the city’s architectural richness. The Cleveland Pools Trust continues to engage with the community through various programmes, while organisational development ensures a robust governance approach for the future.

“Driven by public demand, the restoration of the Cleveland Pools is a community project that greatly benefits local people. The project is a strong example of the relationship between cultural heritage and well-being, using green energy and a holistic approach to reinstate the site’s original function while adapting to 21st century regulations and standards”, the Awards’ Jury said.

“The restoration of the Cleveland Pools in Bath is a good example of rescuing open-air pools for northern Europe, and is a great example for other similar sites across the continent”, the Jury concluded.

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Contact: Mary Sabina Stacey | |