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Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool

A Category B Listed Building in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.9699 / 56°58'11"N

Longitude: -2.2046 / 2°12'16"W

OS Eastings: 387656

OS Northings: 786533

OS Grid: NO876865

Mapcode National: GBR XL.B61M

Mapcode Global: WH9RN.32FN

Entry Name: Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool

Listing Date: 16 December 2005

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 398110

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB50183

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Stonehaven

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Stonehaven and Lower Deeside

Traditional County: Kincardineshire

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Description

R Gall of Gregory and Gall, 1934; main contractor William Tawse Ltd, Aberdeen. Water heating, circulation, filtering and disinfecting systems installed 1935; gents changing room extended 1936. Rectangular-plan, 320,000 gallon, open air heated seawater pool (55 yards x 20 yards) with long, single storey, pantiled, Art Deco, entrance range comprising turnstiles, café and flanking changing rooms; stepped buttressed enclosure walls. Painted poured concrete.

NW (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: symmetrical. Piended block at centre with semicircular steps rising to advanced, broad-pilastered, corniced and keystoned doorpiece with flanking flagpoles and 2-leaf panelled timber door, 3 windows to right and door with flanking windows to left. Set-back outer bays with paired horizontal windows close to eaves flanked by gabled bays and 2 similar later bays beyond to left. All openings with brightly coloured timber shutters.

SE (POOL) ELEVATION: 12-bay centre with variety of door and window openings behind outshot colonnaded viewers gallery with pedimented centre and flagpole. Flanking changing room bays with paired small horizontal windows close to eaves and further doors.

ENCLOSURE WALLS: flat-coped stepped and buttressed enclosure walls with decorative wrought-iron pedestrian gate to SW, timber pedestrian door to SE and vehicular gate to NE. Pool elevation incorporating pedimented bandstand to centre SE, piended sea pump room in re-entrant angle at S, piended and gabled main plant room to E angle.

Multi-pane glazing patterns in top-hopper opening metal windows. Red pantiles with original vertically-astragalled rooflights.

INTERIOR: (seen 2004). Entrance with decorative cast-iron turnstiles by 'Bailey, Albion Works, Manchester' flanking canted ticket office window. Changing rooms retain traditional timber cubicles with timber seats.

Statement of Interest

Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool's survival is 'unique as the sole Art Déco 50 metre saltwater open air pool anywhere in the UK' (Mitchell and MacDonald). Stonehaven open air pool is a rare surviving example of its type in Scotland. It is one of only three known surviving seaside outdoor swimming pool complexes in Scotland. The other examples are Tarlair, Aberdeenshire (see separate listing), which was tidal, and Gourock, which was originally tidal, but has since been altered. Simple tidal pools, such as those at St Andrews and Pittenweem are not included in this category.

Initially planned to be constructed of iron, the cost of building the pool in concrete was £9,529. At the opening ceremony on 4th June, 1934, local MP Mr C M Barclay-Harvey presided over diving and swimming exhibitions as well as 'mannequin parades of local ladies' showing off the latest styles of bathing suits. The ceremony was attended by 2,300 people. Interestingly a Daily Record report for the same month at St Andrews in Fife, reported that the town council rule that 'every bather must wear full regulation costume at all times' was being challenged.

Declining day trips during the 1950s and 60s did not hinder the success of Stonehaven' pool which enjoyed outstanding attendance figures, but by the 1980s and early 90s numbers were declining. Threat of closure in 1994 led to the formation of the 'Friends of the Open Air Pool', who, together with Aberdeenshire Council (a formal Partnership Agreement was entered into in 2000), achieved complete refurbishment of the pool, with annual attendance figures now (2005) regularly peaking at 30,000. The pool bandstand is dedicated to the memory Alan Bain, first chairman of the 'Friends of the Pool'.

In the 1920s and 30s recreational swimming became an increasingly popular pastime and more readily available to the public because of improved public transport and increased leisure time. Consequently a relatively large number of outdoor swimming pools were built in Scotland, especially at sea-side locations. Built between 1930 and 1931, the pool at Tarlair (see separate listing) is one of earliest examples of this sort of swimming pool. However competition was strong with outdoor pools appearing across Scotland, including Prestwick (1931) Portobello (1936), Stonehaven (1934), Arbroath (1935). The complex at Dunbar (began 1929) incorporated not only a swimming pool, boating pool and paddling pool, but also a ballroom in its main pavilion. Declining visitor numbers led to the closure and subsequent demolition of the majority of these pools.

List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).

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