HPB October event review

Chester City Baths has a grandness that is befitting of its location, with magpie timberwork, distinct chimneys, red Ruabon brick and intricate stone dressings. All these features combine to create a wow factor that was appreciated by everyone that joined us for our autumn event to find out more about this Grade II listed pool and hear from the day’s contributing speakers.

The opening of the Baths in 1901 caused great excitement with the facilities of swimming and the addition of slipper baths arriving at a time when few houses had a bathroom.  Designed by architect John Douglas, who received many of his commissions from the Duke of Westminster, the Baths were central to the community and became a key destination for swimming galas and water sports.  In the 1920s the association with water polo began and continues to this day, now joined by sub aqua.

The Baths were operated by Chester City Council until 1976 when the Northgate Arena opened.  That would have been the end for Chester City Baths, but there was a love for the Baths and the support that rallied led to the formation of Chester Swimming Association.  With the new pool not suitable for competitive swimming this continued to be the role that Chester City Baths would play and in the process has created some world class swimmers and water polo players.

The two pools, the Pacific and the Atlantic, have each presented challenges.  Most of these of late are a legacy of Covid.  In March 2020 with the pools closed and no income they were drained.  The Atlantic was fine, but the tiles of the Pacific were cracked.  Fundraising has seen these repaired, but whilst the Atlantic is now open to the public there is a cost to reopening the Pacific and a roof that is also in need of repair!

Volunteering and a community spirit is palpable at Chester City Baths, with more volunteers than ever engaged as part of the team.  One of the tasks ahead is to ensure that younger people are represented amongst the trustees to continue the momentum that has been created.

Look out for any future fundraising campaigns and please give your support to Chester City Baths where you can.  Thank you to Chris Holden and Brian McCann for sharing Chester’s story.


Delegates next heard from Joe Stanhope of Jubilee Park Woodhall Spa with the focus of the ever important subject of funding.  Joe generously shared lots of tips and insights on the way that his team approaches projects they are seeking funding for as well as learnings gained from the larger funds currently open.

Jubilee Park Woodhall Spa has also been playing its role in the community with the introduction of ‘Donate A Swim’, which is a pay it forward scheme to support those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a swim or for whom it might help with their mental health.  They’ve been working with charities to distribute and this has included supporting groups such as a Ukrainian refugees.

From being inspired by history we were inspired by the possibilities offered by ground breaking technologies.  In this case, in the application of pool filtration and a method that’s not only leading the way in terms of technology and the results achieved, but that’s doing so with an emphasis on the environment at every step of the way starting with a very simple product: recycled green and brown glass.

Joining us to explain more and how swimming pools (and swimmers!) can benefit was Jimmy Lamb from Dryden Aqua.  And why specifically green and brown glass? That’s because of its existing negative charge.  The glass is used to create a filtration system that is more effective, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.  Founded by Dr Dryden, a marine biologist whose mission is to clean up the planet from toxic chemicals and micro plastic, the company is now one of the largest manufacturers of glass filtration in the world.

Any pool member of HPB will receive preferential rates from Dryden Aqua in recognition of its support of the organisation.  To make an enquiry email jimmy@drydenaqua.com.

The Friends of Carlisle’s Victorian & Turkish Baths are facing numerous challenges, but they continue to move forward and are making incredible progress.

With the 1974 pool that was added to the original pool complex of 1884 deemed by the authorities to be no longer fit for purpose, the focus of the Friends is on the Turkish Baths and how they might work as a stand-alone entity.  Chair Julie Minns shared an overview of what the future could look like; work that has been made possible thanks to a feasibility study funded by the Architectural Heritage Fund.  The concept has been designed to complement the changes that are taking place to nearby George Square station entrance, which would see the Turkish Baths being one of the first buildings to greet people as they leave Carlisle station.  There is the potential for this to be a real asset for those visiting the area as well as the people of Carlisle.

The hope is that a community asset transfer would enable the Friends to move forward with their vision, which would include the restoration of the Turkish Baths, spa facilities, sports therapy studios and a café to the front of the building – which would be switched around so that it is facing the station entrance.  There are a number of meetings taking place in the coming weeks and we’ll share a further update as soon as we can.

In the meantime there is a live fundraiser to support the Friends here.

A tour of Chester City Baths and then a much enjoyed swim brought to an end a fantastic day in Chester.  Details will soon follow of our 2024 events programme.