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Heating for Broomhill Pool – is all-year outdoor swimming on the way?

PUBLISHED: 18:00 10 September 2017

Alan Wilkinson beside the diving board at Broomhill Pool. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Alan Wilkinson beside the diving board at Broomhill Pool. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

The rebuilt Broomhill Pool will be heated and have its iconic diving boards restored when it opens its doors to swimmers again in 2020.

The diving board will be restored at the rebuilt Broomhill lido. Picture: KLH ArchitectsThe diving board will be restored at the rebuilt Broomhill lido. Picture: KLH Architects

That opens the door to year-round outdoor swimming for the hardy few – although in reality it will mean longer summer seasons at the lido.

The news comes as a formal planning application for the restoration of the pool, which will cost more than £5.3m, has been lodged with Ipswich council.

The application was formally lodged as the pool opened its doors to the public as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme in Ipswich – and its plans were on display to visitors.

The Report that has been prepared for the borough says that a survey at last year’s open day showed 94% of nearly 1,500 visitors backed its restoration. A separate survey conducted earlier this year found that 97% of 350 respondents backed its restoration.

Gill and Dick Abbott at Broomhill Pool. Picture: PAUL GEATERGill and Dick Abbott at Broomhill Pool. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The proposals, from Fusion Lifestyle which would lease the pool from the borough council for 50 years and operate it alongside a year-round health club, are dependent on the scheme getting financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It has already got through the first stage of a lottery application and the final decision is expected at the end of this year, by which time the planning application should have been decided. The initial bid was for £3.3m towards the total cost of £5.3m with the borough pledging £1m towards the restoration.

Alan Wilkinson from architects KLH said the pool would be heated to about 22C which would extend the season by several weeks in the spring and autumn.

And he added: “If people did want to swim here in the winter – and some do enjoy outdoor swimming in cold weather – that would be possible but you’d have to use the fitness centre changing rooms.”

Pete Huggett at Broomhill Pool. Picture: PAUL GEATERPete Huggett at Broomhill Pool. Picture: PAUL GEATER

He used the pool himself as a youngster.

The iconic diving board would be retained as it is the only one of its type left in the country – but the two highest of the four boards would not be operational because of modern health and safety concerns.

The work would include restoring the grandstand and building a replica clock tower on top of a restored entrance kiosk to give the pool an imposing entrance in the 1930s Art Deco style.

Broomhill Pool in its heydayBroomhill Pool in its heyday

Visitors remember the pool’s great days

Visitors to Broomhill Pool on Sunday welcomed the news that the restoration work should get underway next year – and recalled visits to the pool during their youth.

Dick and Gill Abbott had walked to the pool from their Tuddenham Road home and Mr Abbott remembered his days swimming there in the 1960s.

He said: “It was a wonderful place to come in the summer. We use to come here when the weather was fine and go swimming in Fore Street in the winter.

“It’s a lovely facility and it will be great to see it back in action again. I don’t know whether I’ll be back in it again but it would be good for youngsters.

“It will be good to have it heated to take the chill off – but you don’t want an outdoor pool to be too hot!”

Pete Huggett was another visitor who remembers the halcyon days in the pool – in his case it was a magnet to him in the summer of 1975.

He now lives in Kent, but was visiting friends in the town: “We used to come over for swimming lessons from Chantry. We used to go here or Fore Street or to St Matthew’s Baths.

“I remember going off the top board. It seemed very high when I was young, but it doesn’t look anywhere as big as that now. It’s a bit of a shame it won’t be used any more.

“But the pool should look amazing when it’s finished. It will look a bit like the de la Warr Pavilion (in Bexhill, Sussex) and be a really great place for the town.”

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