It would, perhaps, be surprising to find a village with a population of less than 2,000 that has a large (100ft X 33ft) public swimming pool. Hathersage is just such a village.
Its swimming pool is open air – one of a dwindling number of such pools – with water heated to 82°F (28°c), hot poolside showers, lawns and views of Stanage Edge, Hathersage Church and the surrounding hills.
In the 1930s a local business man and philanthropist, Mr George Lawrence, gave a number of gifts to the village – tennis courts, a bowling green, a bandstand, an additional hall at the village War Memorial Hall, the laying out and equipping of a playing field, £5,000 towards building a Methodist Chapel, and, in 1936, a swimming pool. Mr Lawrence was unfortunately killed in the Sheffield blitz along with 8 of his employees, having left the comparative safety of his home in Hathersage to visit his employees who were at work at the time. His gifts to the village all survive, although the tennis courts have been converted to an all purpose, all weather recreational area on which other games as well as tennis can be played.
At the beginning of the war the swimming pool was requisitioned by the government but by April 1940 it had been de-requisitioned and was being prepared for reopening. There is little record of the pool during the war but in the autumn of 1947 the pool’s finances were reported as being in “dire straits” with £100 required by the following March to keep the pool open. This was apparently raised but over the following years there were constant financial difficulties with the threat of imminent closure ever present. Meetings were called to consider the levying of an additional rate to finance the pool and to consider closure. The threat of closure was eventually alleviated in the mid 1950s by a group of volunteers who gave their time and expertise to save costs. In the early 1980s Derbyshire Dales District Council agreed to give financial assistance to the pool; since then both they and the neighbouring High Peak Borough Council, whose area abuts Hathersage, have contributed to the costs of operating the pool.
In the past the pool was very different to today. Health & Safety being largely unheard of, there was only one lifeguard employed; the water was heated by means of a coke boiler which was not capable of raising the water temperature above 65°F (18°C) although a period of hot sunny weather could raise the temperature as high as 68°F (20°C) – both rather cooler than today’s 82F (28C); the showers had cold water only; the pool was only open from Whitsuntide until the first Saturday in September and admission charges (in 1950) were 1s 3d (6p) for adults and 4d (1.5p) for children.
Over the last few years the Parish Council and local people have raised over £100,000 to replace the 1936 changing facilities and install disabled toilets. Fund raising continues and further refurbishment is planned. The Parish Council is determined to keep the pool open to give local residents and visitors alike the opportunity to experience outdoor swimming, a pleasant experience in almost all weathers.
We hope that you will visit us, enjoy a swim and by so doing help to preserve our pool.