South Bay Pool Scarborough Page 6

The End of The South Bay Pool

Efforts to seal off the site began in 2000. This involved the erection of steel fencing around the courtyard area, and across the staircases that led down to the roof area and cafe, thus closing off the changing room block completely. At the same time, the flimsy wire around the pool itself was replaced with heavy duty steel fencing.

In 2002, The Department of Culture, Media and Sport turned down an application to have the building listed, with the reason given that 'this lido and changing rooms do not make for a unified single design'. There is no doubt that the South Bay Pool had become a fusion of Edwardian and 1930's design, but old buildings very often undergo changes and this does not make them less interesting or less important. The historical and architectural significance of the pool was plainly obvious to all those who cared to notice. 

However, what is undeniable are the serious practical problems that would have been involved in preserving the building. The days of large scale spectator swimming are largely gone, and it seems very unlikely that the pool could ever again have pulled in the numbers of people needed to make it financially viable. The pool was in a terrible state of neglect, and the sums needed for renovation would have been vast. Furthermore, the pool was inconveniently situated well away from the town, and the site would not obviously have been able to be used for a different purpose. Never the less, the restoration of other pools, most notably Tinside Lido, showed what can be achieved with the right level of determination. Whatever the difficulties involved, the decision to clear the site was a desperately sad one.

 The pool's buildings were demolished in 2002-3 and the pool itself filled in. This destruction meant the loss of 88 years of history which could never be replaced.


Pic 6;1 The beginning of the end. The first barriers appear around the courtyard in the summer of 2000, a response to continuous vandalism. Eventually they would enclose the changing room block entirely. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;2. The pool in winter 2002, showing the very earliest stages of demolition. The barriers have all come down to allow access to the site, the pool is in the process of being drained, the beach huts above the pool and on top of the laundry have been demolished, and holes have been knocked in the ceiling of the changing rooms and cafe, presumably to provide light for work in the interior. (picture by Jeff Allinson)
Pic 6;3. The demolition nears its conclusion in the summer of 2003. With most of the buildings almost completely destroyed, the pool is being filled in. (Paul Allison/Wikimedia Commons)
Pic.6;4. The site of The South Bay Pool in 2017, now occupied by a Star Map. (D Stuart Photography)

South Bay Pool Scarborough; Then and Now

Although the South Bay Pool no longer exists, some significant features remain. These include the pool's outer walls and walkway on the seaward side, and a section of wall that once linked the changing rooms to the laundry block. 

Visiting the site in 2017 and again in 2018 was for me, a poignant experience. When I first saw the derelict site twenty years ago, it was a silent and sad place. For me, it still is. There are some people here now, dog walkers and fishermen, but there is no plaque or sign to inform visitors of what once was. I wondered if any of them knew that thousands of people had once sat here to watch spectacular diving displays, and that this had once been the flagship attraction of this great resort.


Pic 6;5 The site in 2000 and in 2017. The surviving structures that can be seen are the wall which once linked the changing rooms to the laundry block, (centre right, and largely obscured by the railing in the top picture) and just visible in both pictures (at the far left) is the very top of the pool's re-enforcing column. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;6 Looking North with the Spa in the background, c.1949 and 2017. (Author's collection and D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;7 The Pool in the 1930's and as it appears today. The top of the re-enforcing column (centre left) can be seen in both pictures as can the wall on the hillside. The pool's wall on the left can still be seen, but it was redesigned and replaced after the top picture was taken. (Author's collection and D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;8 The wall built to link the laundry with the changing rooms was added around 1920. Its original purpose was to provide a walkway on its roof to allow access to and from the roof of the changing rooms to the roof of the laundry building, and to allow extra roof space for spectators to sit. It is now the only surviving part of the changing room block. Seen here is myself with the surviving wall in 2017. This fragment still gives an impression of the size of the original structures. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;9 1997 and 2017, looking south-west past the laundry block with the surviving wall at the end. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;10 Looking north past the women's changing rooms, in 1999 and 2017. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;11 Looking North past the laundry block in 1999 and the same view in 2017. The concrete edging in the lower picture does not follow the original line of the laundry block, but is more sharply angled to the right. None of the pool's original features survive in this view. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;12 Looking across the pool, with the pool's outer wall in the foreground and the changing room block behind, in 1999, and the same view in 2018. The pool's wall is still present, but the buildings have gone. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;13 The steps which once led up to the top level of beach huts, (on the upper left of the site) can still be seen today, and some of the foundations for the huts are still present at the top. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;14 The pool's South end in 2018. Some of the most extensive surviving features can be seen here. In this view, everything except the signs, the grass and the railings on the right hand side, was once part of the South Bay Pool. In the middle is the pool's distinctive re-enforcing column. This was constructed to give greater supporting strength to the wall at the point that it was most vulnerable to the force of heavy seas, and which dates back to around 1925. Many old pictures of the pool show spectators sat on this column. In Around 1959, the pools outer concrete walkway was constructed, which can be seen in the foreground, and a ramp was added going up towards the column to improve access. The walls on the left and right are the pool's original outer walls, with the right hand side being the replacement section due to storm damage in the 1950's. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;15 The pool's wall and outer walkway are the largest features still to be seen in 2018. Most of the pool's wall, include the section here, dates from the 1934 re-fit. The railings were added when the pool was filled in. The man and his dog are on the walkway added c.1959. (D Stuart Photography)

Remembering The South Bay Pool

The South Bay Pool has gone, along with hundreds of thousands of it's visitors who are no longer with us. Most of their stories, like the pool itself, are lost for ever, but some are not. Though neglect, demolition and the passage of time have erased much of the pool's history, to some people, the South Bay Pool will always be a special place that will never be forgotten.


Pic 6;17 I visited the pool for the last time in the summer of 2000 and took this picture of myself in the doorway of the cafe, overlooking the pool. I will always remember my last visit, standing and listening to all the echoes of the past in that haunting place. Soon it would be gone forever. (D Stuart Photography)
Pic 6;18. An unknown bouquet left above the pool, photographed on my last visit in 2000. This was one of the most poignant things I photographed during my many visits to the site. I couldn't help but wonder who it was for, or what their connection with the pool might have been. Looking back at it now, this bouquet seems like a memorial not only to a vanished place, but also a vanished time. (D Stuart Photography)

I want this article to be as good as possible - did you visit the pool? Do you have any pictures, information or comments? I would be delighted to hear from you.

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See my article on the ruins of Butlins Holiday Camp Filey here.

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