Making a splash in Peak District pool's 80th year
Swimmers are diving in for an 80th year at Hathersage's outdoor pool.
The venue’s 2016 season begins on Saturday, when the water will be heated for the first time since winter.
Special celebrations are planned over the coming months to commemorate the eight-decade milestone, including a party this weekend and a big event in July, when the anniversary date falls.
“We’re quite excited,” said assistant manager George Foy, one of the pool’s 14 paid staff, who are supported by a team of around 15 volunteers.
“Obviously people haven’t been able to swim outdoors for the last four months, so they’ll like to get back into it.”
The pool is one of the few open-air lidos left in the country, and was set up in 1936 following a donation from Sheffield factory owner and philanthropist George Lawrence.
An initiative called the King George’s Field Trust spurred on the project. At the time, if a local benefactor gave money, the Crown would match it.
George, who owned a razor blade factory on Nursery Street in Sheffield, also created a paddling pool, tennis courts and a playing field.
The businessman, who died in the Sheffield Blitz in 1940, thought the facilities would help to get people out of the crowded city and into the countryside.
The pool is still owned by Hathersage Parish Council and run by the trust, a charity which ploughs all the money it makes back into the site’s upkeep. George Foy said recent improvements have included new changing rooms, toilets and a veranda.
“We do alright - for the last few years we’ve managed to turn over some money. A lot of outdoor pools closed 20 or 30 years ago, because they were struggling with making huge losses. We’re the only one in the Peak District, that’s for sure.”
London has a collection of outdoor pools and lidos, many of which also date back to the 1930s, but these have a ‘bigger catchment area’, the assistant manager added.
“They’re more heavily subsidised by London Council,” he said.
“People are attracted here by just being able to swim outdoors in the Peak District. There are nice views, and then in Hathersage you’ve got nice walks after a swim, and cafés and shops.
“It’s very different to swimming in an outdoor pool in a city. There’s nothing to look at, just the walls! On the really hot summer days we do get full to capacity, and we need a one in, one out policy.”
The pool is heated to 28 degrees from March to October, but for brave souls the pool is open for swims unheated in winter. There are also ‘night swims’ to live music every third Friday.
“I swim every week in the winter,” said George. “It’s pretty freezing but you soon acclimatise. The water cools down slowly.”
The special 80th birthday event will be on July 24.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure what it’s going to be, but it’s a big celebration so we want to make sure we get it right,” George said.
He is also confident the pool will reach its centenary.
“We could be here indefinitely. People come from miles away just to swim at Hathersage. A lot of effort goes into keeping it going.”
The pool reopens at 7.30am on Saturday. There will be music on the bandstand from 1pm to 5pm, children’s activities from 3pm to 5pm.
n Visit www.hathersageswimmingpool.co.uk for details.