Stonehaven Outdoor Pool
upon a time no Scottish holiday resort was complete without its open-air swimming
pool. A haven for families, an arena for teenage boys to try and impress girls
and the venue for countless talent and beauty contests, every coastal town encouraged
its visitors to join in and have a dip. Indeed in their heyday in the 1930s, Portobello
outdoor pool managed to attract an incredible 18,000 swimmers in one day.
Nowadays, with the decline in Scottish beach holidays, these magnificent
pools are a good sight rarer, and Stonehaven is to be commended in retaining and
keeping in use what is now the only working Olympic-sized heated open-air pool
The pool was opened in June 1934, built in the fashionable
art deco style common to many of these facilities and fully compliant to Olympic
standards. More unusually, it was paid for by the locals themselves through public
It proved to be a wise investment by the townsfolk as it
became a huge hit with visitors to the town, in some years even reaching 65,000
swimmers. However, like many other similar facilities throughout the country it
was hit hard by the impact of cheaper foreign holidays, and by the 1980s visitor
numbers to the pool had plummeted to an annual figure of roughly 15,000.
drop in popularity, coupled with the increasing amount of wear and tear on the
structure, prompted the local council to propose that the pool be closed in 1994.
It seemed that the death-knell had sounded for the pool, and that another valuable
piece of coastal heritage would be no more.
|Stonehaven Outdoor Pool|
However, just as the locals
had paid for the building of the pool in the first place, now they stepped in
to save their town's landmark. A pressure group, the "Friends of the Pool"
was quickly formed, and after an arduous process of negotiation which lasted for
years, the pool was saved. The Council now provides an annual budget, maintains
the fabric of the pool and provides qualified lifeguards; while the local community
organise fundraising, marketing and the volunteers make sure the pool is redecorated
every Spring prior to the June opening.
The open air pool is now thriving,
hosting everything from triathlon competitions to floodlit midnight swims. The
hard work of the local volunteers has well and truly paid off, as visitor numbers
climb up towards the 40,000 mark and the long term future of the pool now seems
to be in safe hands.