Review of the Year 2018

2018 has been the most successful season to date for the Lido since it was taken over by by the Community Trust in 2009, with over 53,000 visitors between April and September and many more attending events and swimming during the extended season. This was mainly due to the fantastic weather, especially in June and July but the many new initiatives and improvements to the pool and café were also a factor.

Pre Season: Before the pool opened on 21 April, volunteers were hard at work painting and cleaning. During the winter months we

• upgraded the changing rooms and improved the ventilation

• Installed lane end markers – since the pool liner was installed the previous year, lane swimmers found it difficult to judge the distance required for turning, so the end markers solved the problem

• New café double glazed windows – these replaced the original windows and made a huge difference, providing ventilation in the summer and keeping in the heat in colder weather

• New café lighting
• New oven
• Refurbished disabled toilet for café.

Later in the year we also installed a shade sail over the toddler pool, with a grant fromthe Quartet Community Fund, and floodlights so that we could hold evening events.

April: On Friday 20 April, the day before the start of the season, we held a special day for current and prospective volunteers to come and see the improvements, have a swim and sign up for volunteering shifts in reception, tuck shop and café.

May: The season got off to a great start, with some warm sunny weather giving a hint of the great summer to come.

Poldark fans were treated to a new season of their favourite drama in May, but most of them didn’t realise that when Ross swam ashore during the opening scene, through the clever use of a green screen, he was actually swimming in Portishead Open Air Pool!

June: National contracting company, Wilmott Dixon, came in to carry out a mini makeover as part of their WD Foundation Challenge. They repainted the walls in the now famous lido colours, repaired woodwork, fitted new signage, new flower planters and commissioned a local artist to paint a beautiful mural alongside the toddler pool.

On Friday 9 June, the Pool hosted its first Music Fest, organised with Gordano Breakfast Rotary Club, to raise funds for improvements to the disabled facilities in the Café. It featured many local acts including the popular band The Mallards and was very well attended.

This was followed by The Longest Day Swim organised by the Raj K Soni Legacy Fun. This annual charity event, now in its sixth year was created in memory of 18-year old Raj Soni who was tragically lost after a cycling accident on 2nd August 2012. The Legacy Fund is managed by Quartet Community Foundation and is one of just a few local charities aimed at inspiring young people through sport and music, raising money through donations and family-oriented fund-raising events.

July: From midsummer onwards, the temperature soared and the heatwave lasted right through July and into mid August. Visitors flocked to the pool to cool off and to sunbathe on the terraces and on one memorable day we had 1500 visitors through the turnstiles! As usual in hot weather, we attracted the attention of the national Press, including a front page photograph in the Saturday Telegraph and a 10 best lidos feature in the Guardian.

The pool hosted several school galas plus the 7th annual Inter Schools Gala with all the local primary schools battling it out for the coveted trophy, which was won again this year by Highdown School, the unbeaten champions.

On 15 July, crowds packed Esplanade Road for the second annual Soapbox Race and Pool and Café volunteers moved outside the keep the crowds supplied with hot food, drinks and ice creams while they watched the races.

August: The weather continued warm and settled throughout the first half of August and the Pool and Café were kept very busy throughout the summer holidays, needing almost daily ice cream deliveries to keep up with the demand! Café Lido started their very popular Wednesday Quiz Night and monthly Open Mic Night.

September: The headline event this month was our first open air cinema screening, held in conjunction with the Curzon Cinema. Mamma Mia 2 was a sell out when tickets were released in July and we are planning further screenings for next year.

At the end of September, the volunteers once again took part in the Biggest Coffee Morning in the World to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Care, raising over £1000 for the fifth year running.

In another first for the Pool, on 30 September we held a special Dogs and their Owners Swim in association with the Portishead RNLI, at which 200 dogs and their owners enjoyed a splash around in the warm water for the afternoon. The event was a huge success and we plan to repeat it next year at the end of the season.

Extended Season: In the last few years, we have continued to open the pool for a weekend session up to Christmas for cold water swimming, but this year we decided to keep the boilers on until the end of October, but for shorter opening hours than the summer. It proved to be very popular with our regular swimmers and meant we could open during the autumn half term and hold a special Halloween family swim – another sell out event – when we used a special dye to turn the water pumpkin orange, with lots of spooky decorations and costumes to set the scene. The heated season ended on 2 November, with early morning swimmers treated to the best full moon of the season at 7am, viewed through the steam rising off the water!

Cold Water Swimming: From early November, we continued our cold water swimming sessions on Sunday mornings, leading up to the annual Popsicle Cold Water Gala held this year on Saturday 15 December. Eager cold water swimmers came from as far apart as Newcastle to compete in various heats, including a 1000m swim in a water temperatures down to 7C.

Festive Christmas and New Year Swims: Also new for this year, we heated the Pool for Christmas and New Year to its usual 28C and held one hour sessions from 23 to 26 December, and again at New Year. The Christmas Day session from 10 – 11.30am was free to attend but donations were appreciated.  The event was a sell out with over 1400 ticket holders enjoying a swim over the period, and we are looking forward to heated swims becoming the tradition at Christmas.

Celebrating Portishead Open Air Pool
Celebrating Portishead Open Air Pool, a fully illustrated history written by John Birkinshaw of Portishead Pool Community Trust, was published on 23 November by Clevedon Community Press, the Publishing Press of Clevedon Community Bookshop Co-operative.
This third publication from Clevedon Community Press charts the history of the open air pool from when the suggestion that it should be built was first mooted in 1924, through to its opening by Portishead Urban District Council in 1962, and onto the present day, with stories, letters, official records, and black & white and colour illustrations. It includes memories and personal accounts from those involved in building the pool and in its development. And from those who have so enjoyed Portishead Open Air Pool, and still do. In 2008, the pool was in danger of closing and being demolished after several years of poor attendances and general decline. A local campaign STOP (save the open air pool) led to the establishment of Portishead Pool Community Trust and today, ten years later, Celebrating Portishead Open Air Pool marks the success of the pool, this year attracting a record of more than 53,000 visitors. This well researched publication will be of considerable interest to those locally, to swimmers, residents, visitors and local historians, and also to the increasingly popular world of lidos and open air swimming.

Thank you to
• all our wonderful volunteers – without them, none of this would have been possible • Other local organisations we have worked with this year, including the Rotary Breakfast Club , RNLI Portishead, Raj K Soni Legacy Fund, Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon Community Press, Ben Knowles (Soapbox Challenge), Portishead Arts, Portishead in Bloom

• Everyone who has supported us with fundraising and donations of time and money, including Portishead Town Council, Wilmott Dixon Foundation, Quartet Foundation, Co- op Community Fund, Rotary Club of Portishead, Portishead Breakfast Rotary Club

Interested in joining us? As a volunteer – We always welcome new volunteers in reception, tuckshop, café and maintenance. No experience necessary, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. As a Trust Member –joining the Trust is a great way to help ensure that the Pool and Café Lido continue to thrive and involve the community for generations to come. As a member, you will be able to attend Annual and any other General Meetings and learn more about the work of the Trust. You will also have voting rights and the opportunity to stand as a Trustee if you wish. For further information, email BarbaraT@portisheadopenairpool.org.uk