Construction work begins on restoration of UK’s oldest lido

Cleveland Pools,

Beard Construction is leading the work on the restoration of Cleveland Pools, the oldest surviving outdoor public swimming pool in the UK

The £6.2m project poses some significant engineering challenges for Beard, which will bring its extensive experience in the heritage sector to the development, as the site is only accessible for vehicles by river.

Machinery, building materials and equipment required to carry out the major refurbishment work on-site will have to be loaded up at the nearby Avon Rugby Club, which is being used as a base, and carried up-river on a pontoon pushed by a barge fitted out for the purpose.

Plans for the refurbishment of the site include:

  • Restoration of two pools – the crescent-shaped main pool for adults and competent swimmers and a smaller, shallower pool for children
  • Restoration of the largely unaltered Grade II listed buildings. Central cottage restored for the main entrance and pay point, first floor to become a caretaker’s flat
  • Terrace seating area with shelter from sun or rain
  • New toilets and showers
  • Refreshment kiosk
  • New river pontoon for access via boat services to Pulteney Bridge
  • Improved disabled access including an electric buggy to manage the steep entry slope
  • Heritage exhibition & learning space within the site

Community engagement

The project was set to start in March last year when the covid pandemic struck and led to delays and increased costs.

In recent months the Pools has enjoyed exceptional national support with additional funding being provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the DCMS Capital Kickstart Fund, and emergency grant aid from Historic England.

The project includes a community engagement and volunteering programme with dedicated resources to deliver the Activity Plan, which aims to engage a wide and diverse section of the local community in meaningful projects.

The overall project costs for the period 2019 to 2025 are now just over the £8m mark with the Trust needing to raise a further £400,000 over the next 18 months to deliver all outcomes.

The pool was built in 1815 and is regarded as a nationally significant site.

Anna Baker, project director for Cleveland Pools Trust, said: “We are looking forward now to seeing the restoration take shape, to be complete by summer 2022, when the community that enjoyed the benefits of this wonderful facility in the past, will be able to once again.

“Beard has brought a great deal of expertise to the project and a real appreciation of what the facility will be used for once it’s complete, which is very important for us in a construction partner.”

Mark Tregelles, Beard project manager, added: “We recognise how culturally significant this development is for the community, and wider region, not only as a Grade II listed building but also as space for the community to use and enjoy when it’s complete.

“We are working closely with the Cleveland Pools Trust to realise their vision to make it an accessible and fun place to be for all users, and also to reflect the rich history behind the nationally important site.”


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