How come there is an outdoor pool in Stanhope?

 History of Weardale Open Air Swimming Pool

In 1974, one of the last actions of Stanhope Rural District Council was to use a residue of funds for the benefit of the community. The idea of a swimming pool, originated by one James Rainey Masterton.  He set up a community Sports Association, Weardale Open Air Swimming Pool Association (WOAPSA) and with a committee of 12 active enthusiasts masterminded the initiative to build “Weardale Open Air Swimming Pool”. The site was land situated on the edge of the Castle Park near the ford. It was leased at a nominal rent. Funds were provided by Stanhope Rural District Council and a substantial amount was raised by the  Weardale community, local businesses and the regular holiday vistors to Weardale. A lot of building work was carried out by local firms.

The Pool is the only public heated open air pool in the County and has charity status.

By 1997, funds were scarce, the pool surrounds tired, vandalism rife and support for the pool at its lowest. There were only three remaining active Committee members, two of whom were retiring, and a Public Meeting was held on the 8th of October to decide the future, if any, of the Pool. Luckily 25 people attended the meeting and out of these 25, a new voluntary Management Committee was formed of five officers and six volunteers and, with a few changes, still operates today. Other volunteers seasonally come forward for specific tasks, and this help is invaluable. It has to be said that great strides have been made since the new Committee was formed and the community acknowledge this.

A new beginning

The new committee agreed with Wear Valley District Council that they would fund the basics (new boilers etc) and the committee would set about improving the quality of the pool to make it attractive to everyone.

After many applications, successful grants were obtained from County Durham Foundation, CDENT, LEADER II and Stanhope Playground Committee plus local businesses, enabling the purchase of an insulated night-time pool cover to conserve heat, a lifeguard lookout chair, picnic tables and chairs with sunshades, flower planters , children’s slide and springboard.A grant  from Lloyds TSB in 2000 funded the Disabled facilities. . The changing rooms and kitchen have been refurbished after receipt of a DCC Neighbourhood Renewal Community Chest grant. Thanks to a substantial Market Town Initiative Grant and match funding from County Durham Foundation, additional water treatment equipment, a ‘spongy’ non abrasive pool surround, new picnic tables and fencing have been installed. Flood lighting has been installed .

Setbacks occurred, for instance, in midwinter l999 a leak in the pool had to be traced, then repaired. This took months and even experts could not find the cause and of course there was no money even if they did. Finally, our own volunteer expert found the leak. The repairs were carried out by the Chairman and Treasurer in weeks of their own time, with their own machinery. The bottom of the pool has been partly resurfaced courtesy of a North Yorkshire firm ‘Fibrocem’ who have a wonder product!

Queen’s Award for Service to the Community

In 2004 we had the honour of being nominated for The Queen’s Jubilee award. It was presented by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham. Three of us also went to St James Palace in London to meet the Queen and other members of the royal household. It was a great day.

In 2010 we succeeded in receiving some grant money from the Weardale Area Action Partnership and Leader. This allowed some modernised facilities at the Pool with a sheltered café, a soft play area for toddlers and a sauna. This enables parents to come and relax in the café or the pool whilst the children play in the soft play area or the baby pool

Weardale Action Partnership also came up trumps in November 2013 and we were granted money to renew the sand in our sand bed filters.

In 2015 we updated the ageing boilers again and added Solar Panals to provide power for the pumps for the filters.