The oldest public open-air swimming pool in the country is to reopen after ambitious plans to restore the 200-year-old Georgian lido won the backing of lottery bosses.
The Cleveland Pools, which date back to the days of Jane Austen and Wordsworth, last welcomed public bathers in 1978 and was even used as a trout farm in the years since.
But now the Grade II*-listed lido in Bath has secured a development grant of £366,200, and the go-ahead for a whopping £4.1 million grant to restore and reopen the pools.
It is the second massive Heritage Lottery Fund boost for Bath this summer – a couple of months ago, the city's famous abbey won £10 million for its massive project to renovate the ancient church.
Swimming icon Sharron Davies, who lives in nearby Bradford on Avon and has long supported the Cleveland Pools project, said she was delighted.
"This is such good news. After hard work and sheer perseverance by the trust and its advisors, it's looking like we will have a magnificent and unique pool in Bath that we can all enjoy for a proper outdoor swim," she said.
The pools first opened in 1815 after a new law was passed prohibiting 'nude bathing' in the River Avon. The Cleveland Pools were built in the style of a Georgian crescent, aping the grand new streets being built in Bath at the time.
The site includes two bathing pools, the original changing rooms and a private ladies' pool. They are one of only a small number of pre-Victorian sporting buildings to survive anywhere in the country, and it is thought they could be the oldest of their kind in western Europe.
The Prince's Regeneration Trust helped the trust that has successfully tried to save it, with expert advice and guidance on how to put together a bid for lottery cash.
"We're absolutely delighted with this news," said the Prince's Regeneration Trust chief executive, Ros Kerslake. "It's a momentous step forward for Cleveland Pools after years of hard work by everyone involved. In the current hot weather, the cooling waters of the Cleveland Pools would be a popular and attractive asset for everyone in Bath. We are now finally close to making that happen."
The restored and reopened pools will include a 25-metre swimming pool, children's splash area, pavilion and café. But only 85 per cent of the total project cost is being covered by the lottery cash, and Cleveland Pools Trust is now appealing for fundraising.
"The trust and its many supporters will be over the moon that our campaign to keep the pools in the public eye, while developing a sustainable plan working with experts from both English Heritage and The Prince's Regeneration Trust, has finally got the green light from the Heritage Lottery Fund," said a delighted trust chairman Ann Dunlop.
"Huge thanks go to the Prince's Regeneration Trust for their expert advice and support in helping make this happen."
With the mini-heatwave of July 2014 still clear in the memory – despite an ex-hurricane already battering the West this month, Nerys Watts, the boss of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the West, said people love swimming outside in great weather. "There's nothing quite like swimming in the great outdoors."