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Restoring the UK’s oldest public lido to its former glory

Cleveland Pools Bath
Cleveland Pools Bath

We were appointed to provide multidisciplinary engineering solutions for the restoration of the UK’s oldest public open-air swimming baths. The Cleveland Pools, on the outskirts of Bath, were built in 1815 and are the country’s only surviving Georgian lido.


Cleveland Pools Trust



Service Lines

Built in 1815, the remarkable Grade II listed Cleveland Pools is the oldest public outdoor swimming pool in the UK. Following the pools’ closure due to disrepair in 1984, a dedicated group of volunteers formed the Cleveland Pools Trust worked to secure a £6.8 million-pound National Lottery Heritage Funding grant, that led to a stunning restoration that brought the lido back to life. We also assisted the Trust in achieving Salix funding for the project.

The Trustees engaged Hydrock to provide MEP, civil and structural, and water environment engineering services from concept design stage through to project completion. This included the refurbishment of the existing buildings, the site grounds and swimming pools. New facilities within the development include a 25m swimming pool, children’s splash pool, pavilion and café. Our team undertook extensive stakeholder engagement with Bath & North East Somerset Council, Historic England, the Environment Agency and Natural England.

Our design brief was to restore and upgrade the lido in keeping with its Georgian heritage, whilst meeting modern requirements of water quality and cleanliness. Part of this process was to support our client in securing funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England to ensure the project’s viability. We also worked with the Heritage Architect, Donald Insall Associates, to develop the proposals and achieve regulatory agreement.

Using innovative design solutions

Cleveland Pools is situated beside the River Avon, leaving the site at risk of flooding. Due to this positioning, our water environment team developed the Trust’s flood management strategy, whilst mitigating against onerous operational requirements, extensive civil engineering designs and minimising intrusion in the heritage-sensitive original pool structure.

The team succeeded in challenging an Environment Agency planning condition that hugely simplified operational procedures ahead of a flood. Our designs ensured that all utility services were kept out of the flood plain, placing the main electrical intake and plant room on high ground in a fully water-tight basement.

Our team developed the overall building services strategy, which needed to be in keeping with the stunning buildings and surrounding grounds. This included the use of a sustainable water source heat pump heating system that uses the river to generate a proportion of the pool’s heat requirements. This uses the natural, low-grade heat energy of the river to heat the water via a number of heat exchangers. This method is particularly well-suited to low temperature systems such as pool water heating.

In addition, we meticulously designed the external lighting strategy, with input from the council’s ecologists, due to zero lux stipulations on the River Avon and less than 0.5 lux on vegetation foraged by bats.

Accessing a challenging site

The site works were logistically very challenging, with the only access being from a residential ‘no parking’ street, via a narrow steep footpath, or via the river and a pontoon landing. Our civil and structural designs required extensive reinforced concrete, retaining walls and piled buildings. However, our pragmatic approach and appreciation of buildability issues resolved these challenges, using only materials and components that could be brought in by boat. Examples include concrete pumped some 200m downhill, micro-screw piles and lightweight construction materials and plant wherever possible.

The project was completed in September 2022 to widespread fanfare and acclaim throughout both the local and national media.

Images courtesy of the Clevedon Pools Trust.

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