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Western Daily Press reports: “The oldest surviving open-air swimming baths in the UK, in Bath, are set to be fully restored and reopened to the public.

The Grade II listed Cleveland Pools – a 200-year-old Georgian lido – has secured funding of £4.1 million, including a development grant of £366,200, from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The restoration project, run by community group The Cleveland Pools Trust, will conserve the Georgian features and upgrade the facilities to allow for year-round swimming and other activities.

When complete, the site will include a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and cafe. The pools will be naturally treated and heated using the latest technology.”

“The pools first opened in 1815 following the Bathwick Water Act which prohibited nude bathing in the river.

Laid out in the shape of a miniature Georgian crescent, the site includes two bathing pools, the original changing rooms and a private ladies pool.

They are one of only a small number of pre-Victorian sporting buildings to survive nationally and are thought to be the oldest swimming baths of its type in Western Europe.

The site closed to the public in 1978 and after finally closing altogether in 1984 was briefly used as a trout farm.”

 

Nude bathing (or skinny dipping) once common on river and lake-sides throughout the UK was responsible not only for the construction of swimming pools such as this, but also for a shift in cultural attitudes towards outdoor swimming. See Hung Out to Dry, Swimming and British Culture – Chapter 3 Sex, Sea and Swimming Trunks, and Chapter 5 Lidos Open, Rivers Close. More…

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This is the question I asked and I believe I have found the answer in Switzerland…

 

 

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I love Wild Swimming!

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River Swimming in Zurich

Upper Letten River Pool

Having spent a week in Switzerland, I’m staggered at the difference in attitude towards swimming in Europe compared to attitudes here in England. Some might argue that we are European and on paper that’s  true yet the prejudice shown towards swimmers here is in marked contrast to our European cousins.

Diving Boards Upper Letten River Pool

Dive into the Letten Zürich

Having said this you can’t swim just anywhere in Switzerland, warnings are given when rivers are too high as well as about dangers presented by boats and shipping, but unlike England, swimmers aren’t kept out of the water needlessly.

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For example you can swim for free in the Limmat as it flows through Zürich. As you can see from the picture, river swimming is incredibly popular. Two life guards were on hand to make sure everyone was OK, especially when swimming near the bathing structures. I was delighted to find the fast flowing river refreshingly cool and that the extensive swimming area even includes diving boards!

Fore more details please click here

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Early Morning Dip Weymouth

Early Morning Dip Weymouth

Weymouth is a cornerstone in the history of swimming and bathing, a fine sandy beach that gently slopes into the sea makes it a safe haven for children, but grownups have to walk out a long way to get a swim!

A Royal Dipping (print by John Nixon)

George III, pictured above, bathed at Weymouth to improve his health (as the band playing “God save the King”). To the Nations delight, the Kings health much improved and so with Royal patronage and health benefits seaside resorts quickly became holiday Meccas.

Queen Victoria with her family

So the seaside was transformed by our desire for good health, but bizarre as it may seem, the first monarch to have bathed for fun as opposed to health was none other than Queen Victoria, and from this point on seaside towns began to evolve from the health spas of the past into pleasure beaches.

 

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I had the pleasure of being invited into Radio Leicester this morning to discuss the opening of the bathing beach at Rutland water. To listen please use the link below and fast forward to one hour thirty-six minutes…

BBC Radio Leicester Listen now…

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Heddon Court Bathing Place, 1912

A rare glimpse of Heddon Court bathing place provided for wild swimmers in years gone by.

In an effort to preserve modesty, encourage cleanliness and educate swimmers, bathing places like this were built across the country. facility’s were meager; a bathing attendant, a changing hut (offering shelter to clothing in poor weather), a diving run and some steps attracted swimmers from miles arround. As you can see we don’t need much to enjoy open water. One essential sadly lacking today is the liberty to swim! Visit Europe and you will find outdoor swimming encouraged and enjoyed to the benefit of all. Why are we so prejudice against river and lake swimmers in England?

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