It’s been a splash hit for 75 years

Archive press cutting of divers at Hathersage Swimming Pool.
Archive press cutting of divers at Hathersage Swimming Pool.
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HERE’S to 75 years! Hathersage Pool has been attracting swimmers to the Peak District village since 1936 - and now a big celebration is taking place on Sunday to mark its place at the heart of the rural community.

The pool is one of the few open air lidos left in the country, and offers visitors the chance to take a dip in heated waters surrounded by picturesque scenery.

Originally set up thanks to a donation from Sheffield factory owner and philanthropist George Lawrence, the pool is run by the local parish council and funded by grants, donations and ticket sales. An afternoon packed with activities is taking place at the pool on Sunday from 2pm to 6pm - and organisers are attempting to recreate the itinerary for the original opening day on July 27, 1936.

Synchronised swimming, water polo and a boat race are all planned, as well as a water bombing display and music from the Hathersage Silver Band.

David Jackson, chair of the recreation committee on Hathersage Parish Council, said he thought it was ‘excellent’ the pool has reached its 75th anniversary.

“We’ve been a focal point for the village,” he said. “Outdoor pools are becoming rare, you hear of so many closing down. In another 25 years maybe we’ll be celebrating a century!”

David said the pool was born out of an initiative set up in the 1930s called the King George’s Field Trust.

“If a local benefactor gave money to a scheme the Crown would match it,” he said.

George Lawrence, who owned a razor blade factory on Nursery Street in Sheffield, donated money towards the pool, and also created a paddling pool, tennis courts and a playing field.

“It was really a health initiative to get people out of their crowded, terraced houses in the middle of the city,” David said.

George died in the Sheffield blitz of 1940 - at the time of the bombing he was at home in Hathersage, but decided to go to his Laurel Works factory and take food and drink to his employees. The premises received a direct hit, killing nine of the 13 who were in it, including George.

David said although the pool is popular - particularly on hot summer days - funding has caused problems. As early as autumn 1947 the pool’s finances were in ‘dire straits’, with £100 required by the following March to keep it open. “Some of our grants from local authorities finish next year so we’ll be struggling from a financial point of view,” he said.

“We’re so weather-dependent. Some of the lidos in London are open all year, but they’re not heated - ours is heated up to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, but it just costs too much to do that all through the winter. Even at the best of times we can only have a maximum of 120 people in the pool. When it’s a sunny day in the middle of August, people are queuing to get in.

“The trouble is when it’s raining and a bit miserable we still have to employ the same number of lifeguards, and we still have to heat the water. There’s a loss on those days. It’s a question of balancing the good days with the bad days.”

n Tickets for the celebrations are available from the pool office. Visit www.hathersageswimmingpool.co.uk or call 01433 650843.