Plans to bring Broomhill Pool in Ipswich back to its former glory have received a boost, thanks to a £3.4m National Lottery grant.
The Grade II listed art-deco building, constructed in 1938, has been closed for 15 years. Now the neglected site will be given a new lease of life as an open air swimming pool and fitness centre.
This follows a country-wide trend, as Lidos across the UK, from Brockwell Lido in Lambeth to the Cubist-inspired Jubilee Pool in Penzance, have been reopened following successful community campaigns and fundraising efforts. After many of the UK's lidos have fallen into disrepair in the last thirty years, Brits are rekindling their passion for outdoor swimming in a trend dubbed #LidoLove.
When Broomhill Pool was built, outdoor swimming and diving were in vogue both as a pastime and spectator event. In its heyday, the pool had a grandstand that could seat 700, and catered for as many as 2000 visitors a day. However, in more recent years these numbers declined, and the pool was closed in 2002.
As with other similar sites across the UK, a large community effort went into saving the building, including a petition garnering over 18,000 signatures.
The National Lottery-supported project, run by fitness and leisure charity Fusion Lifestyle, will restore the pool and diving boards, allow the water to be heated and erect a replica clock tower in buildings original the art-deco style.
Additionally, a new health and wellbeing centre is to be built, allowing the pool to generate income all year round.
The new facility will also host film screenings and workshops. Permanent exhibition spaces will display the pool's history through photography and archive material.
The £3.4m grant, contributing half of the project's £6.5m total costs, is from the Heritage Lottery Fund's Heritage Enterprise grants programme, designed to fund the vital repairs and conservation work needed to convert derelict, vacant and under-used buildings into new, usable commercial spaces that can have a positive impact on local economies.
Ipswich Borough Council have committed £1m towards the project costs with the remaining £2m being funded directly by Fusion Lifestyle.
Tim Mills, Director of Business Development at Fusion Lifestyle, said "We are absolutely delighted that our second round submission to the HLF has been successful. Considerable work has been undertaken by Fusion and other partners to reach this point and this is a major milestone on the long journey to restore the Broomhill site. We know that the real
work starts now as we strive to bring our ambitious proposals for the site to fruition over the next few years."
Ipswich Borough Council's Deputy Leader, Bryony Rudkin, said: "We are so pleased that Fusion's hard work and skill has paid off. The Council remains committed to supporting the project financially and I would also like to thank the Trust for its passion and drive which has helped us get to this stage today."
Mark Ling of the Broomhill Pool Trust said "Well done and a massive thank you to Fusion Lifestyle, The Heritage Lottery Fund and to Ipswich Borough Council for their shared commitment and vision. Janet Smith wrote, in her definitive book Liquid Assets: "Broomhill may lack the national profile accorded to Saltdean, Tinside or Penzance, but it is arguably their equal in architectural significance". So, after an epic 15 year campaign, we are delighted that one of Britain's finest lidos - and a much loved part of Ipswich's heritage - has not only been saved, but will be enhanced!
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of Heritage Lottery Fund said: "After 15 years of closure, I'm delighted that this once thriving community asset will be given a new lease of life, and be restored and rejuvenated as a public facility. As one of few remaining interwar lidos, it's fantastic that this grant, made possible by National Lottery players, has saved Broomhill Pool from further deterioration."
Fusion's project programme indicates that construction could start in late 2018 with work anticipated to last for approximately twelve months.