Here are some of the most asked questions about the Tynemouth Outdoor Pool project.

Has anyone else tried to do this before?

Not seriously – there have been various proposals for the site, but only The Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool have responded to public demand by taking on the challenge of restoring the pool as a community facility.  Back in the 1920s when the pool was first built, the same kind of public demand led to its construction, to provide a safe outdoor swimming environment for events, watersports such as water polo, and training for olympic swimmers.  Today, the demand is down to people wanting the same outcome but also to see a much-loved site brought back to life and for it to enhance the area instead of detracting from it, as it currently does.

How can I help?

The easiest and quickest way to get involved is to start following us on social media at http://facebook.com/tynemouthoutdoorpool and http://twitter.com/tynemouthpool, and join in the conversations we’re having about the pool – there are over 14k people doing exactly that already, and much of the expertise on the team has come directly from the local community.

People can also raise funds and donate directly via JustGiving at http://justgiving.tynenouthoutdoorpool.com, by signing up to EasyFundraising at http://easy.tynemouthoutdoorpool.com, and by donating via Ebay sales at http://ebay.tynemouthoutdoorpool.com.

Finally, we also sell tons of great merchandise at http://store.tynemouthoutdoorpool.com, including t-shirts and hoodies, artwork, postcards, keyrings and loads more. All proceeds go directly towards the redevelopment of the pool.

How long has the pool been there?

The pool was enormously popular from the day it was built in 1925, and this popularity with locals and holidaymakers alike continued 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.

From 1986, it was used as a training pool for scuba diving and canoe clubs until funding was cut and it began to fall into disrepair – at which point it was ultimately closed to the public in 1996.

Shortly afterwards, the local authority demolished the ancillary buildings and bulldozed the rubble into the pool, at a cost of £200,000, before filling it with concrete and imported boulders to create an artificial ‘rock pool’.

How much have you raised?

A community-driven project like this requires a complex mix of funding, which could include everything from grants and awards, through to public fundraising initiatives. We’ve had talks with lots of funders, from Heritage Lottery to Sport England and more funds are coming online soon, like the Coastal Communities Fund, which we’ll be applying for this year. We’re also planning to engage the community a lot more in terms of fundraising and we have lots of ideas for this up our sleeve.

In terms of ‘how far’ we are, this is a tricky one to reply to.

The short answer is about £100,000 which includes revenue from events, sales of merchandise and donations from the public, plus £90,000 from the Coastal Revival Fund in two separate funding rounds. However, what this figure doesn’t include is an additional estimated £100k of pro bono work that has already gone into the project.

The slightly longer answer is ‘enough to cover pre-planning application requirements but nothing yet towards construction costs’.

Most capital projects like this usually have the funding in place for all elements before work starts. However, we’re doing things a little differently. Being a tiny charity, we can’t feasibly pull £8m or so together in one chunk, so we’re relying on whatever funds come in (donations, smaller grants, etc) to chip away at some of the initial work, like the survey and the EIA we’ve just carried out, etc.

Getting this work out of the way helps pave the way for larger funders to get involved, demonstrates that we’re confident that we will ultimately succeed, and makes the whole project much more of a viable and attractive proposition for anyone who wants to get involved.

How much will it cost to build?

The overall cost of the project will likely be around £8m, give or take a few unknown variables like the condition of the existing pool tank, and any plant required. This ‘total’ cost will cover the removal of what’s currently in the pool tank, together will full design and construction of a new pool and associated plant, together with the design and construction of new ancillary buildings on the site which will potentially house things like a cafe/restaurant, community spaces, and retail spaces.

The plan is to complete this work in three phases:

  • Phase One – this involves the refurbishment of the pool, and is our main raison d’etre. It involves bringing the pool back into use, filling it with warm water (ideally heated using geothermal energy) and ultimately tidying up that horrible mess at the end of our beach. The cost? A little over £3M.
  • Phase Two – this involves establishing the lower part of the adjacent buildings which will most likely comprise of permanent changing rooms and a cafe. The cost? Another £3m.
  • Phase Three – finally, the bulk of this phase involves finishing the adjacent building with second floor that could house anything from a gym to a restaurant. The cost? Around £1.75m.

How will you stop the sea coming over the side?

We won’t!

What we mean is, it would be futile to even attempt to stop it. However, it wouldn’t be an issue as the pool’s normal cleaning cycle will deal with any contamination.

What benefits will a new pool bring?

To start with, a new outdoor pool would bring huge benefits to the area in terms of promoting sport and healthy lifestyles. We’ve had loads of conversations with all kinds of groups, from triathlon clubs, to lifeguards, to outdoor swimmers, to surfers, to divers, to kayakers (and that’s just the start) all of whom would really make the most of such a unique facility.

On top of that, the pool would offer families a super safe place to enjoy the beach and the water, and would be hugely popular in that respect, too.

Finally, the opportunities to help promote tourism in the region would also be enormous – we can imagine a transformed pool would ultimately be one of the major tourist attractions in the North East, and something that could act as a real catalyst for the regeneration (where it’s needed) of much of the North East coastline.

What facilities will the pool have?

The site in Phase One will be restored as a 25m main pool and splash deck at the north end, with heated fresh water and temporary changing facilities.

Phase Two will see the construction of the lower floor of an adjacent building to house permanent changing facilities and a cafe.

Phase Three will involve finishing the adjacent building with second floor that could house anything from a gym to a restaurant to community spaces.

What is geothermal energy?

Geothermal energy relates to the natural heat found in subsurface rocks, that can be exploited through drilling boreholes of up to 2km in depth, in order to tap in to the energy source and use it to heat water.

What will happen with any money raised if the pool doesn’t go ahead?

The project is incurring some ongoing costs in advance of any construction work, including website development, marketing and fundraising activities.

If the project closes without achieving its ultimate aim of restoring the pool, any remaining reserves will be donated to charities.

Will it be open all year round?

The pool will be heated, which means it’s likely that it will operate a longer season than in the past. Our business plan includes scenarios where the pool is open all year round, and we’re considering a combination of heated and cold-water periods, however the final decision on seasonal opening will ultimately depend on how the pool is heated and the levels of demand for both a heated and a cold-water facility.

Will the pool be heated?

Absolutely! While many people would love to have the outdoor pool back, many, many more would also love to go one better and have a heated outdoor pool. So, the proposed design includes heating of the pool, in order to attract more visitors and to make it accessible to everyone, regardless of age or ability – and we’re hoping that we can heat it all year round, too.

So, we’re currently exploring lots of different options, from traditional plant that heats the pool water via boilers, through to much more innovative options like geothermal heating. However, it all depends on the running costs of our chosen method for heating, together with the levels of demand once we’re up and running.