Regular readers may have seen news items and diarydates about Bude Sea Pool, and wonder what exactly all the fuss is about. I'mRowena Hoseason, one of the founder members of the Friends of Bude Sea Pool, whichis a volunteer-run charity, based here in North Cornwall. And I'll be sharingsome of the behind-the-scenes details about what goes on at the Pool with youover the coming months. But first – hopefully some background info will help to fillin the gaps!
A LITTLE HISTORY
The tidal swimming pool at Summerleaze Beach is one ofBude's hidden treasures. It nestles under the cliffs and was created 82 yearsago to provide a safe place for people to swim, bathe and splash. The Sea Pooluses the natural curve of the cliff and substantial outcrops of rock, combinedwith a man-made retaining wall. So there's plenty of water to swim inthroughout the day, even when the tide is out.
Since it was built, thousands ofpeople have learned to swim in safety in the Sea Pool. There are some dangerouscurrents in the bay, and the Atlantic waves make it difficult to swim in theopen sea at Bude. So it's very common for several generations of families totake the waters in the Sea Pool – grandparents learned to swim in it when theywere toddlers, and some families have been visiting Bude for 60 or 70 years tocome back to the Pool each summer. The Sea pool is one of Bude's key visitorattractions.
The Pool has changed very littleover the years. One side of the cliffs became unstable, and the sunbathing terraceswere built in the 1970s as a result. There have been many swimming galas andcompetitions held in the Pool; there used to be a permanent Pool attendant whowould rent out deckchairs and changing tents.
The Sea Pool was, until very recently, administered byCornwall Council who withdrew its funding in 2010. That mean it would be closedand probably demolished. The Friends of Bude Sea Pool was formed to save theSea Pool, and this volunteer charity took on management of the Pool in April2012.
This means that the Pool'srunning costs must now be funded by donations, business sponsorship, grants,fund-raising and FoBSP membership. FoBSP has begun several long-term projectsto provide income, such as building 12 beach huts on the terraces which arethen rented out. FoBSP has also successfully secured several substantialgrants, which enabled the group to carry out vital health and safety work andrepairs earlier this year. So the barriers on the sea wall – which were aconsiderable hazard to surfers – have been removed; new handrails installedalongside the steps to the beach, and the steps themselves have beenresurfaced.
FoBSP also initiated a trainingprogramme for lifeguards in 2012, so the staff members at the Pool wereapprentices who earned their professional qualifications over the season. Aswell as monitoring the Pool, FoBSP staff kept the Pool and its surroundingsclean and tidy, and provided first aid and assistance to dozens of beach-usersduring the summer. On the busiest day in 2012 over 500 people used the SeaPool, and more than 50,000 people visited it during the course of the summer.And it doesn't just get used in the warm weather – here's a vid clip of somevery brave swimmers making the most of the Sea Pool in the middle of winter:vid clip" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSued8fmW0M" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSued8fmW0M
PLANS FOR 2013
The Sea Pool is filled at high tide with fresh sea waterfrom the Atlantic. It's not a lido; the water isn't heated or treated in anyway. So there's no chlorine or chemicals and a very small carbon footprint. Ofcourse, that means that the Pool isn't heated and the water is the same as thesea which surrounds it. So it can be quite cool – which is wonderful on hotsummer days – and you may meet some small fish during your swim! There's plentyof room for them and many swimmers: the Sea Pool is 88m long and around 45mwide and contains up to 900,000 gallons of water.
However,the structure of the Pool has been neglected in recent years and much of it isin need of repair and renovation. The water level in the Pool is controlled bya sluice gate system which is now beyond repair. So FoBSP are undertaking amajor project in February and March 2013, to replace the sluice gate with amore flexible system. This will allow FoBSP to access the interior of the Poolmore frequently, so it can be cleaned and dredged regularly. This will make thePool a more consistent depth and improve the water quality, and allow morepeople to use the Pool throughout the year. This project will cost around£25,000.
FoBSPmust also raise enough money to pay for any repairs needed to the walkways andsteps after the winter storms have blown through, and to staff the Pool for the2013 season. These costs are expected to be in the region of £30,000.
The Sea Pool provides safe bathing on a part of the Cornishcoast where it is not safe to swim in the sea. It gives direct employment tolocal young people, and FoBSP use local businesses and contractors wheneverpossible to help the economy in the wider area. The Sea Pool is an importantasset to the community in the area, and a vital visitor attraction which helpsto support the hospitality industry in Bude and beyond. It is open access fromthe beach, and free for all to enjoy.
Membershipof FoBSP costs just £10 for adults, or £5 for under 16s, per year. FoBSP aim tobuild membership to 4000, which will then cover the annual running costs of thePool and allow the group to continue to improve and extend the facilities onoffer.
You canjoin FoBSP at href="http://www.budeseapool.org/" target="_blank">www.budeseapool.org,or pick up a membership form from one of the banks in Bude, or drop into theSeventh Wave Gallery on Belle Vue in Bude, and sign up on the spot. Your support is VERY much appreciated!
And that's just the background to Bude Sea Pool: keep your eyes peeled for future updates being posted here...