We’re the Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool and we’re aiming to transform the incredible eyesore that sits at the end of one of the country’s favourite beaches into a modern, safe, usable and internationally significant leisure facility. If you live in or around Tynemouth, you’ll hopefully already be familiar with what we’re up to. But if you don’t (or you haven’t yet heard of us!), here’s a little bit of background:
At the Southern end of Tynemouth Longsands beach, on the North East coast, lies the decaying remains of Tynemouth Outdoor Swimming Pool. A concrete, rectangular, salt water tidal pool, built in the 1920s. Popular with locals and holiday makers alike for over 50 years. It began to lose favour in the late 70s with the introduction of cheap package holidays abroad, just as other British coastal holiday destinations lost out.
The pool fell into disrepair, and in the mid 90s the Local Authority demolished the ancillary buildings and bulldozed the rubble into the pool, at a cost of £200,000, before filling with concrete and imported boulders to form an artificial ‘rock pool’. The anticipated marine life they introduced never flourished and the pool remains an eyesore to this day.
The Friends originally formed as a community group in August 2012 in response to new plans announced by North Tyneside Council to fully concrete over the existing pool site and turn it into what would effectively be an artificial beach.
After raising support from social media channels and the wider community, we played a central role in persuading the council to drop these plans. Shortly after that, we strengthened our position by forming a company limited by guarantee and we set out to respond to the council’s invitation with our own proposals for the site.
These proposals were completed with the pro-bono support of a of nationally and internationally renowned team drawn from the architecture, building design, surveying, engineering, planning photography and artwork sectors, and we estimated that around £100k of design and planning work went into that stage of the project. We presented these proposals to the council in January 2013, and shortly after that they invited us to work exclusively with them to develop our plans.
Here’s just a few of the businesses who’ve helped us along the way so far:
So, as you can see, we’ve been busy. Really busy. We’ve become a registered charity. We’ve started fundraising in earnest. And we’ve been hobnobbing with some celebrities too (or at least we’ve been bothering their management teams via email), with local legend Sting being one of the first to provide us with a donation to our fighting fund.
One other really exciting possibility that we’re researching thoroughly is the potential of heating the pool using geothermal energy. We’ve had a lot of discussions and consultations with industry experts, and we’re in the process of completing the calculations that will tell us what our chances are. If we (and the experts) decide that geothermal heating is possible, then this will be a huge asset to the pool – not least that it would mean guaranteed year-round use!
Put simply, we’re driving forward one of the biggest community driven regeneration projects the UK has ever seen. It’s an idea that has already captured the passion and imagination of thousands, and it’s something that the region desperately needs.
We’d love you to get involved, too, whether that’s by donating or by offering help, expertise, skill, old photographs and footage of the pool, or even just stories, anecdotes and memories.