In 1930s Britain, lidos and open air pools were incredibly popular. Following a poll of Stonehaven householders in 1933, the Pool was built the following year at a cost of £9,529 and opened on 4th June 1934. Stonehaven Pool was built to competition standards, which at that time were for races of 110 yards and multiples of that, so Stonehaven Pool was, and is, 55 yards long – just a touch over 50m and 20 yards – just over 18m – wide. It was emptied and refilled every few days – at that time, filling took only 2¾ hours. Even considering operating costs and loan charges, the first season brought a large profit. Customer feedback was not all positive and so, for season 1935, not only was the sea water circulated, filtered and disinfected, it was also heated!
During the Second World War, the Pool provided recreation – and showers - for locally-based troops. Following the war, it quickly retained its former glory, and became a major attraction for visitors from a wide area including Aberdeen. Despite changing holiday habits in the 1960s and 70s, and the Pool requiring considerable work, attendances were still healthy, with 65,000 passing through the turnstiles in 1975, although that was a season of many lost days due to technical problems.
For a few seasons, the Pool was actually filled with fresh water because of problems with the sea inlet; however seawater – one of the Pool’s main attractions – was in use again for 1982, and has been used ever since. The 1980s and 90s saw a decline in numbers, seasons were cut to 8 weeks, and by the mid-1990s the Pool was threatened with closure. This prompted the founding of a community group, The Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Pool, initially to lobby for its retention. The Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool is now a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) and works in close partnership with Aberdeenshire Council. While the Council operates the Pool to the highest standards, the Friends maintain, enhance and promote the Pool.
Today the Pool is the focal point of Stonehaven’s summer and is an asset not only for the town and Aberdeenshire but also for Scotland. Only one other open air pool of the era still operates in Scotland, largely serving a local population, while the Stonehaven Pool is acknowledged as a 4-star Visitor Attraction and brings visitors from far and wide.
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