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Millions awarded to refit Bath's outdoor Cleveland Pools

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The oldest outdoor pool in the country is to have a multi-million pound refit, nearly 40 years after closing.

Cleveland Pools in Bath were built in 1815. The baths, next to the River Avon, survived until 1984 when it closed down after suffering from competition from the city's new indoor leisure centre.

Indoor rivals contributed to the pool's closure

After a short spell as a trout farm and tearooms, the historic pools with their crescent-shaped Georgian changing rooms, have been decaying.

But a Trust set up to preserve the Pools has been awarded £4.7 million National Lottery Heritage Fund money.

Designs have been drawn up, contractors have been engaged, Work is due to start in the next few weeks.

Though millions has been awarded to a trust which hopes to preserve the pools, more money needs to be raised

The Trust must raise a further £250,000 for the works' completion. If the building works go according to plan, swimmers may be able to return in 2021.

The main thing people remember when they talk about the Pools is that it was a place of fun.

It was the place to be seen. Everyone was hanging out, posing on the grass, it wasn't just about swimming but a place to just be and socialise.

That's what we're trying to do. To make it not just for swimmers but for everybody.

– Anna Baker, Project Director, The Cleveland Pools Trust
Misbehaving guests caused scandal during the pool's peak in the 60s and 70s

The 1960s and 70s were the pools heyday. But they were built as a result of a skinny-dipping scandal which offended genteel Georgian society.

In the 1800s we had a lot of overcrowding in the Roman Baths, they'd become a place of debauchery.

Instead we had a lot of men swimming nude in the River Avon. That affected the sensibilities of Georgian ladies and there was an act passed to ban nude swimming in the river.

This was a response to that, to provide a place for them to swim.

– Anna Baker, Project Director, The Cleveland Pools Trust
Preservation of the pools will require lots of work

Building work will start in the Spring and it won't be straightforward.

The Pools are in what is now a suburban area and a narrow path which leads between houses is the only access on land.

So the builders will have to bring in machinery and materials by boat.