On Saturday 28th October MP for Bath Wera Hobhouse visited the newly-restored Cleveland Pools in Bath, as it was awarded the European Heritage/European Nostra Award for Conservation and Adaptive Reuse. The award is supported by Creative Europe and celebrates the innovative restoration and reuse of heritage assets. 

The UK’s oldest outdoor pool, the Cleveland Pools opened in the 19th century with waters fed from the River Avon. During the Victorian era, it became a cherished local landmark for swimming enthusiasts. Sadly, it would fall into disuse in the second half of the 20th century, briefly used as a trout farm before shutting down completely in 1984. 

In 2004, a heritage project proposed to restore this piece of local history. With the financial support of the Council, the National Lottery, and many other charitable organisations, the site has been restored to its original purpose as an open-air pool, and it reopened to the public earlier this year. 

The restoration project has won three major national awards, for volunteer involvement, the preparation of interpretation materials, and restoration. 

Alexander Goodger, trustee of Europa Nostra UK said: ‘the Jury noted that the restoration of Cleveland Pools is a good example of rescuing open air pools in northern Europe, and is a great example to other similar sites across the continent. They praised it for its relationship between cultural heritage and well being, using green energy and adapting to 21st century regulations and standards’.

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, commented:

“Our beautiful city was built on the therapeutic and health benefits of bathing in water, from the famous Roman baths to the spas of the Regency era. The Cleveland Pools are part of this proud history and I am delighted to see them back in use. 

 So many wonderful things have come together for the success of this project. It has been a powerful community initiative that started 20 years ago, supported by the Council, Historic England, the National Lottery and local philanthropists. Not only have they saved an outstanding heritage asset, they have created a fantastic community facility open to everyone.”