Portishead Pool 1966

The Pool in 1966

In 2012 we celebrated our 50th anniversary! Roll back to the pool’s first opening in April 1962 and Portishead was half the size it is now with a population of just 10,000.

Despite chilly weather, 750 hardy souls braved the opening day, while the Lord Mayor of Bristol (Alderman Charles H Smith JP) took the ‘symbolic’ option of pouring a glass of water into the pool to declare it open – a moment we re-enacted at last year’s jubilee celebrations with the Chairman of Portishead Town Council, Cllr Arthur Terry.

Back in its heyday the pool was a roaring success counting more than 250,000 visitors in its first 2 years of operation. And that’s when the pool was a mere 21 degrees centigrade, thanks to hot water created as a by product at the local phosphorus plant and tankered in four to five times a day. Fortunately when the factory closed in 1969, an oil fired boiler was installed.

Sadly, as life moved into the 21st century, with new indoor sporting and leisure facilities, the pool suffered years of neglect and underfunding until it was finally threatened with closure in 2008.

But never daunted, local supporters fought tooth and nail to keep it open, eventually persuading the council to allow a newly formed Portishead Pool Community Trust to take over the running of the pool for the 2009 season. Even then, the Trust faced an uphill battle with much need for renovation and refurbishment, all in time for a May opening. Fortunately, help came from overseas with the arrival of Extreme Makeover’s Ty Pennington…

Read about the makeover  

The last days of the pool before its threatened with closure were captured on video by local resident and videographer Stuart Walsh

The Pool re-opened in May 2009 under the auspices of the Trust and has since gone from strength to strength with visitor numbers rising year on year – at the time of writing in September 2018, we are heading for our best season in recent decades at over 50,000 visitors, compared with less than 10,000 when the Trust took over almost 10 years ago.  Events at the pool over that time have been covered in our Newsletter archive and more recently in our Blog

The history of Portishead Pool is the subject of a new book by one of our volunteers John Birkinshaw which is due for publication in November 2108 by the Trust in conjunction with Clevedon Community Press.