Cleveland Pools is the UK’s oldest public outdoor swimming pool.
Built in 1815, the site first opened as a river fed pool, followed by a colourful history through the Victorian era to its heyday in the 1970s, until competition from the newly opened indoor Bath Sports and Leisure Centre saw Cleveland Pools finally close to swimming in 1984.
It was for a short time used as a trout farm, but was threatened with demolition as an alternative to repair. In 2003 Bath and North East Somerset council, who own the site, put it up for sale, and it was added to the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register. Thanks to the determination of three local people, Ann Dunlop, Janice Dreisbach and Roger Houghton, the Cleveland Pools Trust (CPT) was formed in 2004 to rescue the pools from dilapidation. In 2006 its listed building status was raised from II to II* as the Pools were considered ‘particularly important… of more than special interest.’
Thousands of supporters from far and wide, many of whom have happy memories of swimming here before closure, joined the campaign and today the CPT has many highly valued volunteers who give their time towards fundraising, local engagement, organising events and publicising progress.
We are now well on our way to finally restoring the Pools for the community of Bath and beyond to enjoy, with restoration work starting in spring 2021.
Project Director, Anna Baker:
“Cleveland Pools is the oldest surviving outdoor swimming pool in the UK. The campaign to restore the Pools has been ongoing for 17 years, but this year marks a significant step change as we finally start construction work to bring the site back to life for public use. We have recently completed a project with Matthew Croft of WithUs Studio to refresh our identity, to align with this new phase and remind the public of what the project is all about. We hope this will inspire others to find out more about the Pools, get involved, and next year come for a dip!”
Paul Simmons, Chair of Trustees said:
“When supporting projects such as Cleveland Pools, the National Lottery Heritage Fund is always keen to stress the importance of local engagement and community involvement — at the ‘Pools’ this is clearly demonstrated through the power of volunteering and the many individuals who give huge amounts of time and expertise freely.”
“As the project moves into the delivery phase it was recognised that a fresh new look was needed and we have been most fortunate to attract volunteer Matthew Croft from WithUs Studio in Bath to lead us through the process. Through Matt’s stimulating input staff, trustees and volunteers working on archive images, interpretation, research, promotion and communications have come together to act as a focus group to develop our refreshed new identity. We are delighted with the results and I’m sure that you will be too.”
Matthew Croft, Founder of WithUs Studio & Cleveland Pools volunteer, said of the refresh:
“We’ve been working with Cleveland Pools as they enter a new phase ahead of their planned reopening next year. We needed to broaden the focus to fully capture the spirit of the project and the magic of the Pools; an idyllic site, brimming with history, restored for the greater good. Whether that’s learning to swim, keeping fit or just meeting friends.
We had two key aims. Firstly to elevate the project to sit alongside other landmarks in a city famous for its waters — and secondly to ensure that it remains accessible to all. Bath has a reputation of affluence but inequality is high. The volunteers are driven by a tireless dedication to restore the Pools for the benefit of all in Bath and beyond. The identity needed to reflect this.
Working closely with Anna Baker (Project Director) and the Trustees we established a strategic framework that everyone could get behind. Using playful copy, natural textures and an eclectic use of illustration and collage, we built a vibrant language to better reflect the Pools as they once were and will be again. Nestled in nature, fun and full of life.”
Matthew Croft recently returned to the South West having graduated from Bath Spa University in 2006. He previously worked in the design industry in London for agencies including DesignStudio and Superunion. Matthew set up WithUs in 2020 with Matthew Marsden. WithUs is an integrated branding and interior design studio.