Given as a present to the inhabitants of Lydney and Aylburton by the Bathurst family, Bathurst Pool was opened on 2nd October 1920. It was donated to the people of Lydney and Aylburton by Charlies Bledisloe and it was to celebrate the 21st Birthday of his eldest son Benjamin Ludlow Bathurst. It was originally operated by a group of Trustees, mainly county councillors and local business people, set up by the Deed of Trust. The deed covering the pool states that in the event of any drought, Mr Thomas, of Lydney Tin Works, which was adjacent to the pool, would have priority over the water. The pool was subsequently handed over to the then Rural District Council, which was replaced by the Forest of Dean District Council and they finally passed it to the Lydney and Alyburton Parish Council. Details of the running of the pool between 1920 and 1960 are very sketchy but we do know that it had to be emptied every Saturday night, cleaned out, and then filled from the nearby stream every Sunday morning.
In the year 1999 the local council decided to close the pool as there was now a new indoor pool operating and Whitecross Leisure Centre, Lydney. There was a large swell of public opinion against this, and following a lively meeting at Lydney Town Hall in the Spring of 2000, The Friends of Bathurst Pool was formed. This new committee was headed by Dai and Telma Richards who had previously been employed by the council to run the pool and they would operate the facility be leasing it from the council. No treasurer could be found within the new committee and it was in June 2000 that Dai approached me to ask if I would take on this task. I agreed and eighteen years later, I am still here.
The pool ran reasonably successfully until 2002 but by this time the numbers using the facility had dropped, volunteers had left and the site was becoming very neglected.
Bob and I visited the pool in the spring of 2003 and together we agreed that I should carry on as treasurer and he would join the committee and concentrate on upgrading the site which had now become almost derelict.
A new committee was formed and it was decided to upgrade on a major scale. The changing cubicles underwent complete refurbishment with new doors fitted, all these being sponsored by local businesses or individuals with strong connections to the pool. A local artist was employed to supervise the youth club who painted part of the concrete surround wall with colourful murals. This was totally funded by a grant from the SRB6 fund of the Forest of Dean District Council.
The following year fund applications brought in a grant from The Gloucester Community Fund for £5500.00 to purchase a pool vacuum cleaner and £36,000.00 from The Forest of Dean Initiative to install a vinyl liner.
The Friends were now more financially stable and we were able to self finance a winter debris cover to protect the liner at a cost of £7000.00
In 2005 it was discovered that the pump house, where the 1940 filtration plant is situated, was in danger of collapse. The estimate to demolish and reconstruct this building was £22,000.00 but with the generosity and expertise of many local traders, including builders, roofers, scaffolders and electricians the work was carried out at a cost of just £3112.00 to the friends.
In 2006 it was decided that because of its ever-increasing popularity a new shop would be built. The existing one also acted as an office and first aid post and was becoming increasingly congested. Again, local people completed the work and it cost the friends only £3043.00 Other improvements in 2006 included new security gates (£1284.00), security shutters to the shop (£1000.00) and new drains a round the pool (£1310.00), all these being self-funded.
In 2007 all the old slabs on the sun deck were removed and a large new area was laid in concrete, supplied and discounted to £7600.00 by Tarmac Limited. To help prevent vandalism a new security fence and gates were installed around the perimeter of the car park and to the front of the pool (£5600.00). Both these improvements were self funded.
New picnic tables were purchased for £800.00, a local donation.
The next few years saw massive improvements including a new toilet block, security lights, public address system, solar panels and most recently an extension to both the shop and ticket office to include a further office and a huge storage space. All the sun deck area has now been covered with top quality artificial grass and the picnic tables are gradually all being replaced with brightly coloured ones made out of recycled milk bottles. We are all about colour which is seen in the tables, chairs, sunshades, sails and bunting. Our debris cover is now beyond repair and so all the surplus this year will be put toward a new cover, the quote for which is £36,000.00
All the trustees and committee members at the pool are passionate about keeping this unique facility, which was so close to being closed and lost forever, and are proud of all that has been achieved in recent years.
We welcome visitors and are pleased to see anyone who would just like to pop in for a cup of tea and enjoy the lovely surroundings.
Sheila Berryman (Trustee)
Trustee – Friends of Bathurst Pool
21st May 2018