Council urged not to close historic Staffordshire pool

England’s oldest listed public swimming pool in which it is still possible to swim is at risk of closure under plans proposed by Stoke-on-Trent Council.

Tunstall Pool on Greengates Street has been used by swimmers in Staffordshire for 120 years. It’s a significant example of Victorian municipal architecture, but most importantly it is still open as a public pool.

The building faces a bleak future if it closes to swimmers as historic pools are notoriously hard to find new uses for.

There are only 14 out of more than 50 listed pools still open for swimming. Those that are still used need to preserved.

‘It would be a great loss if Stoke-on-Trent couldn’t find a way to keep this important part of our heritage in the use for which it was built’, said Dr Ian Dungavell, Director of the The Victorian Society. ‘It is a popular and well-used facility, and the council should be looking at ways to keep it going so future generations can enjoy swimming there too.’

‘We’ve got to think about sustainability, and not being such a throwaway society. It’s difficult to imagine that the building could be used for anything better than as a swimming pool, so it should be kept as one. Too often around the country councils have closed listed swimming pools and only thought afterwards about what might be done with them.’

In August 2008 Dr Ian Dungavell swam 119 lengths of Tunstall Pool to commemorate its 119 years as a public swimming pool.

‘I’ve been swimming in historic pools all around the country, and I’ve talked to many people who enjoy swimming in them. Historic pools are an endangered species, and we need to look after them.’

Under the plans the Tunstall baths, which opened in 1889 and are now listed at Grade II would be replaced by a new swimming pool at the Dimensions Leisure Centre in Burslem. The proposal is part of Stoke-on-Trent’s new sport and physical activity strategy for 2009 to 2016.

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