Hathersage outdoor pool gets boost with £50,000 for improvements
The increasingly popular outdoor swimming pool at Hathersage has begun its most ambitious update ever with a grant from Sport England of £50,000.
This project will bring water quality at the 80-year-old pool up to 21st-century standards.
The new circulation and filtration system will ensure the pool can maintain excellent water quality and clarity even at peak times.
Last year, around 25,000 people visited the pool – not bad for a facility that was originally built in only 10 weeks by hand.
Pool manager Mike Wellington said: “We have seen progressive increases in attendance figures putting greater demand on the facilities the pool offers.
“The nice summers we’ve been having recently have definitely helped. General admissions have increased.
“The last couple of years have seen a steady increase in the numbers of memberships, especially from the Sheffield area.
“There’s a lot more interest in outdoor swimming. It attracts people now who would have just gone to indoor pools before.”
Mike said that the growing number of people competing in triathlons has helped to increase the popularity of outdoor swimming.
“We do get quite a few triathlon groups that want to use us. We have the Hathersage Hilly triathlon here in July and it just keeps increasing and growing. There’s about 400 to 500 participants.”
The event, known as a sprint event, is organised by Sheffield Triathlon Club.
Mike said: “The environment we’re in, we’re getting a lot of people that like swimming in reservoirs and outdoors. We’re trying to extend toward full-year facilities.”
That ambition took a big step forward last year, he said. “In 2019 we completed our first year of fully heated operation. This exciting venture was more popular than anyone might have imagined!
“People enjoyed swimming in heated water throughout the winter period with attendance figures holding steady throughout.”
Mike said that it was amazing to see people queuing in the car park during the Christmas holidays. The pool had to operate the ‘one in, one out’ system usually only seen on the hottest days of the year.
“Previously we were open in the winter unheated,” said Mike. “The winter of 2018-19 was the first time we opened heated up to the normal pool temperature in the summer.
“We got great usage, with 20 to 30 swimmers a day using us, which was quite a lot at that time of year.
“This year, due to the building work, we haven’t been able to continue that.”
He hopes that the pool will be back in operation by mid to late March.
The iproject, led by Hathersage Parish Council, to improve the filtration system and to future-proof the pool infrastructure, has greatly benefited from the Sport England grant and the parish council is very grateful for this additional support, said Mike.
To help raise funds for the refurbishment project the parish council is running a successful campaign called Pool-It, which includes events and a Just Giving campaign.
Events have included night swims to live music, summer solstice 24-hour swims, an auction of promises and various other ongoing events.
The pool and other sports facilities in the village are owned by the King George’s Field Charity Trust, which was set up by Sheffield razor manufacturer George Lawrence, who moved into the village with his wife.
It was one of many good causes that George Lawrence espoused in Hathersage, Sheffield and Bapaume in France, which had close links to Sheffield following the Battle of the Somme in World War One.
He died during the Sheffield Blitz of December 12, 1940 when he rushed to the factory to see that his workers were safe and the works in Laurel Street suffered a direct hit by a bomb. He was one of nine staff killed.
The pool was originally only intended for the use of villagers and was eventually opened up more widely on a limited basis at first, with some days set aside solely for Hathersage residents.
Mike said: “It would not have been able to survive if it had stayed like that.”
The pool is open to the general public and season tickets are available at different rates, depending where people live.
Mike, who is a paid worker for the parish council which manages the pool on behalf of the trust, works alongside a small army of volunteers.
He said that they come up with lots of offbeat and imaginative fundraising ideas. Last year there was a special day when dogs were allowed to swim in the pool on a day before it was going to be drained
The event sold out very quickly and 175 dogs enjoyed a dip. Sadly, the new machinery probably won’t allow a repeat of that.
So far the team have raised more than £15,000 for the King George’s Field charity.The pool’s popularity is only likely to grow, said Mike.
“There’s a beautiful, clear blue sky today. You can see Mam Tor from where I’m sitting and Stanage Edge. That’s a pretty picturesque location.”
Find out more at the pool’s Facebook page, go online at www.hathersageswimmingpool.co.uk, where you can join a mailing list, or call 01433 650843.