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THE MINEHEAD SWIMMING POOL 
 
 

165ft x 60ft - 3ft deep and each end graduating to 15ft deep in the middle 

In 1936 a magnificent open air, filtered seawater, swimming pool was built, the only one in the country to olympic standards.
It was the envy of many other towns.
It was paid for by the Luttrell family of Dunster Castle, for the people of Minehead to enjoy. 
It was used to stage National championships and was a very popular place with local people and visitors alike. Many a summer evening was 
spent at the floodlit Galas with games of water polo and diving exhibitions.
Report of the opening:
2000 people attended the opening of their magnificent  bathing pool  in June 1936.
Despite poor weather conditions and forecasts,  the crowds were not deterred,  and they were rewarded by a sudden weather change and a spectacular Gala.  Sir Robert Horne payed tribute to “An Adventurous Spirit.”  Other dignitaries and spectators  were delighted  with the aquatic entertainment. 
Western Counties High Diving Champion 14 years old Jane Selby of the Bath Dolphins and Coate Swimming Club opened the programme by beautiful swallow diving from the top board 33 feet high, into the 15 ft.depth of shimmering crystal clear water.

On 31st May 1958 it was reported in the Somerset County Herald that Col. Luttell was not prepared to open the swimming pool that summer and it was sold to a group of Minehead business men. 

click here to see an actual film of swimming championships in the Minehead swimming pool

 
 
 
 
                   
 
 
 
                   
 
 
 
                   
 
 
 
                   
 
 
 
                   
 
The demolition of our much loved swimming pool - photos supplied by George Ody

The swimming pool was demolished in 1991 as Butlins sold the land for housing.
   
 
 
 
                   
   

from a letter in the West Somerset free press by Charlie Harvey. 6th Aug.2010

Minehead UDC never owned the Lido. When Mr.Luttrell decided to sell it, the council was advised not to buy it due to concrete cancer and the need for a new pumping station on the beach. However, a group of Minehead businessmen decided to buy it - these included Jack Ridler, Bernie Culverwell and hoteliers Ivor Cornish, Lionel Bush and Harry Strawbridge among others.
As an apprentice for J Burgess and Sons, I helped create an additional entrance on the west end of the lido as access to a new restaurant in the west stand.
We also built a new building at the front of the Lido; this was used as an amusement arcade and was run by a family from bristol who had connections with Charlie Heals Fair.
After some years when Mr Butlin wanted to extend his camp towards the town, the businessmen sold the lido to him. He ran it for a few years and then sold it to a development company. 
This company then demolished the pool and built the blocks of flats houses and bungalows that we can see today. The non-purchase of the Lido site by the council was perhaps another error that they made through lack of vision.

   
   

After much compaining to the council. The local people began fund raising and a new pool was eventually built, but on a much smaller scale, and called the Aquasplash,
It was not really deep enough for much else, I am told.The council provided the land and the funds raised paid for the building. The council agreed to pay for the upkeep.
Unfortunaly the council now want to close it, and it seems another supermarket is interested in the site, so unless something is done, the children of this area will have nowhere to learn to swim, once again!


   
     
     
   


First published Thursday 7 February 2008 in News by Lloyd Vaughan
End of the line for Minehead's Aquasplash

THE death knell looks to have sounded for Minehead's Aquasplash swimming complex after it was decided that keeping the facility open would not be "financially viable".

The West Somerset County Gazette can reveal that a report recommending closure, written by the council's portfolio holder for leisure, culture and recreation, Cllr Neil Par-brook, will go before cabinet on February 13.

The recommendation is that the entire facility is closed permanently with immediate effect and that the possibility of redeploying full-time staff is looked into.

An investigation into the disposal of assets and the subsequent demolition of Aquasplash is also suggested, a timetable for which would go before cabinet in April.

A report recommending the closure of Aquasplash was included in a cabinet agenda for December 5 but was withdrawn to allow for talks with county council officials on a possible rescue package.


Aquasplash "in good nick"

First published Tuesday 18 March 2008 in News by Matthew Colledge

A MEMBER of a group exploring ways of saving Minehead's Aquasplash swimming pool says he is optimistic it can reopen after touring the facility.

Jim Butterworth, who regularly hired Aquasplash for his Watchet Dolphins swimming club until the pool closed in October, says the building is in better condition than he expected.

Mr Butterworth is part of a working party, including West Somerset councillors and Aquasplash users, that visited the pool last Friday, before a further meeting in council offices on Monday.

Mr Butterworth told the County Gazette: "We've had two really positive meetings. There's a very good chance that Aquasplash will reopen.

"There's very little wrong with the building at all.

"Apart from the main leak, which would cost £15,000 to replace, there's a minor leak on a pipe, and the place needs a good clean.

"Apart from that, it looks exactly as it did on the day it closed.

"It's been very well maintained, which was reassuring to see and I think it would be reopened with very minimal cost."

West Somerset Council agreed last month to stop operating Aquasplash with immediate effect but left the door open for another operator to take it on.

Mr Butterworth said: "It all depends on the finances. We remain optimistic the money can be found and an operator can be found.

"In Minehead, I can't walk down the street without people asking whether Aquasplash is going to reopen."

Mr Butterworth also highlighted the economic significance of Aquasplash closing.

He said: "People who used to swim here are now going to Taunton, Wellington or Bridgwater.

"It's a 50-mile round trip and once people have gone that far, they often do a shop as well.

"That's money out of the area and it's not good for Minehead."

 

First published in News by Matthew Colledge

A West Somerset Council spokesman said: "After much work and research, it has been acknowledged by both parties that all available options would leave the council, any potential partner and the taxpayer at high financial risk.

"The costs of upkeep on the ageing facility, which is currently closed due to leakage from the pool, will also inevitably increase with time. Therefore, it is with great regret that a report will be going to West Somerset Council's cabinet on February 13 recommending the permanent closure of the facility."

The complex has been closed since October 15 because of a major leak, which would have cost just £5,000-£15,000 to repair.

But the report states that more than £200,000 could be saved if left shut, helping the council bridge an overspend running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The council's finance officer, Alison Griffin, said: "If members choose to keep this facility, any additional costs would have to be found from savings elsewhere in the budget. This is not felt to be financially practical or sustainable.

"Due regard must also be given to the unavoidable investment needs to make the building safe and operationally fit, and the opportunity loss of not being able to achieve a capital receipt from the sale of the land.

"The need to achieve capital receipts is fully documented in both the medium term financial plan and the budget report."



The ongoing demolition of Minehead's Aquasplash - just one of the latest casualties.

First published Saturday 13 December 2008 in News by Lloyd Vaughan

WEST Somerset lacks suitable facilities for local schoolchildren to learn how to swim, it was claimed this week.

Liz Stewart, who runs Otters Swim School out of Knights Templar First School, Watchet, said the area urgently needed a 25-metre pool with the required depth so youngsters could learn how to swim safely.

Provision for young swimmers has worsened in recent weeks following the shock announcement that Quantock Lodge swimming pool at Over Stowey was also set to close.

Mrs Stewart said she already had nearly 250 children in her ‘learn to swim’ programme but the latest casualty meant the number of children on her books looked set to rise further.

She said parents had already called her expressing an interest in her swimming group and was making arrangements to accommodate them.

Just last week the County Gazette printed pictures of the on-going demolition of Minehead’s Aquasplash swimming pool.

The Seaward Way facility closed in October 2007 after it sprang a leak and failed to reopen because the cash-strapped council could not afford running costs.

Mrs Stewart said pools at St Audries Bay Holiday Club and Knights Templar School where she teaches were ‘fabulous’ but lacked the size and depth needed to provide children with the highest level of tuition.

She added: “In West Somerset we are surrounded by water with numerous children and adults who don’t know how to swim safely.

“Knights Templar’s pool is fabulous but it needs a lot of work and funding, and then there’s St Audries pool which is only 12 ½m x 7m.

“We should spend all our energy and time trying to secure a 25-metre swimming pool here in West Somerset.”

EXCITEMENT is building over renewed efforts to bring a full-length public swimming pool back to Minehead, ten years after the last one closed.

First published Thursday 11 April 2013 in News This is The West Country: Author Hannah Green

Retired engineer Peter Wellstood, from Porlock, has been gathering information and investigating the possibilities for about a year, and is now arranging a feasibility study.

He envisions a pool, gym, cafe and crèche in the development, expected to cost about £4.5million.

Following discussions with Mayor of Minehead Tony Berry, Minehead Vision Group chairman Brenda Maitland-Walker, West Somerset Council and other influential parties, Mr Wellstood is getting a team together to start work.

He said: “I am going to push it as far as I can – I don’t like to think of it as just a possibility.

“So many people would benefit from a pool in the district – mums and babies, school children, clubs, the elderly and tourists.

“I have had lots of talks with lots of people and I have put in an expression of interest for two pieces of land in Minehead.

“I think Minehead is probably the best place in West Somerset to build it – it’s a difficult one, but as it has the greatest population and considering many people are used to travelling to the town, I think that’s right.

“It’s going to have to be funded using grants from various sources, so thenext stage is a feasibility study. I hate it, because I feel money is being wasted, but at the same time ithas to be done so I can go to the grant people with something concrete.

“Planning the actual building and the layout inside will be really important, to make sure we build something locals and visitors find attractive.”

The issue is still a priority for many people and Minehead Town Council is hoping to discuss making land available in the town centre.

Cllr Tony Berry said: “It’s tremendously important for children learning to swim and for improving the health of all age groups. It is still a big talking pointin the town.

“I think it’s excellent if we can get it off the ground. The biggest problem is finding the funding and somewhere suitable to build it.

“Peter is coming to the town council next Tuesday to discuss the possibility of providing land at the Recreation Ground in Irnham Road for the swimming pool.

“Some of the buildings there have to come down and we don’t want to look at any re-building work before we investigate this project. It is an excellent venue.”

Mr Wellstood will be holding an open meeting to fill people in on the project once progress has been made.

Supermarket and pub sink plans for a pool in Minehead

LAND earmarked for a new swimming pool in Minehead will be sold to make way for a new pub restaurant and hotel.

First published Thursday 31 October 2013 in News This is The West Country: by Danielle Morris

THE leader of a community group in Minehead has spoken of his disappointment after West Somerset Council announced plans to sell off two sites to a supermarket and pub restaurant/hotel chain.

At a meeting councillors chose Lidl and Whitbread as preferred buyers for the former Aqua-splash site and land off Seaward Way.

The land off Seaward Way was originally earmarked for a new swimming pool after the closure of the Aquasplash pool in October 2007.

Peter Wellstood, a retired engineer from Porlock, who runs the Pro-Active Lifestyle and Swimming Water Activities Club has been looking into developing a new swimming pool for over 18 months now.

At the start of the council meeting he said he was ‘appalled’ by the council’s plans to sell to a supermarket and a pub chain.

He said: “I understand that the council have debts that they need to pay off but what upset me was the attitude of some of the councillors.

“It really wound me up.

“They say that this is a poorer area so people need somewhere cheaper to shop but if that is the case then why are they only building this now. We don’t need another pub and hotel either. It’s a ridiculous excuse.”

Peter believes a new swimming pool is something residents in West Somerset went and collected over 3,000 signatures in a week from Porlock to Williton of those in favour for a new swimming pool.

However at the council meeting, Cllr Kate Kravis, West Somerset Council’s lead member for finance, told Mr Wellstood that if he had come forward with a £4million funding package or a strong community group with a report on how to fund the pool, it would have been a different decision.

Mr Wellstood added: “I respect Kate and in some ways she is right but I’m in a Catch 22 situation here.

“I can’t start asking people for money until I have the land ... when I have the land I think people and grants will come in very quickly.

We have a strong business plan and I am working very hard to find the land.

“The council shouldn’t punish its residents – it isn’t our fault they have debts to pay off.”

Cllr Jon Freeman also believes the decision taken by the council means it was throwing away the district’s only chance of having a new swimming pool by selling the land to Lidl.

He was the only councillor to vote against the deals at last week’s meeting while 23 members voted in favour.

He said: “It is rather sad that this is a step back for plans for a new swimming pool and it once again shows West Somerset Council acting in the interests of West Somerset Council and not necessarily on behalf of West Somerset.

“It seems to be an established practice of West Somerset.”

However Cllr Freeman also said there were many factors that needed to be taken into consideration including the public demand of a swimming pool.

He added: “We closed the previous pool because it wasn’t paying its way and it probably won’t now – it’s about the economic demand as well as the community demand.

“The Government are intent on taking away more and more money from local councils; we just aren’t in a position to supply public services any more.”

Peter said he wasn’t going to give up trying to find land.

He added: “I don’t plan on giving up any time soon – a few councillors came up to me after the meeting and asked what they could do to help so I think there is a big need here.”

West Somerset Council agreed to consider selling off the sites earlier in the year to help pay off debts of £3.5 million.

It is unlikely that a decision on the sale of the land is to be made until early next year.

 

   
   
SUMMER 2008: The Aquasplash is now closed. It was demolished in 2009. Bus park area sold to Morrisons
- but didnt make enough money to build a new swimming pool for the town ;(
Autumn 2010: Morrisons is nearly completed and a new roundabout has been built.
The Aquasplash site is now a bus park. Obviously as Morrisons have taken over the previous bus park, another was needed.....
2013: the site is up for sale and Lidl's are interested.
   
   
     
   
THE AQUASPLASH SITE, THAT IS NOW A BUS PARK FOR NOW
   
   
It seems to me that an advert for Minehead should read: Welcome to Minehead, we have a Tesco, a Morrisons and a Lidl's and of course Butlins,
sorry we have no swimming pool or paddling pool or donkeys on the beach ....and your dog is not allowed to accompany you on any part of the beach in the summer either.
The fair doesnt come here anymore, however we have plenty of amusement arcades and charity shops!
   
   
THE BUILDING OF MORRISONS 2010
   
         
   

This article appeared in the County Gazette 14th Aug.2009

The people of Minehead should expect a “long journey” on the road to once again having a community swimming pool on their doorstep. Cllr Neil Parbrook, West Somerset Council’s lead member for community, issued the warning after the authority’s cabinet approved the commissioning of (yet another) feasibility study last Wednesday (August 5th 2009).
The council will now appoint a consultant to complete the study into a new pool on grounds at the West Somerset Community College. The study will outline the design, costs and need for a new pool.

Cllr Parbrook said: “We pledged to look at the feasibility of a new pool in Minehead so naturally I am delighted that cabinet has agreed to commission the study. “It will provide a detailed assessment of the physical and financial feasibility of delivering a new community pool and associated parking requirements. “The study will also have to evidence a need for a pool, and that it could be operated and sustained financially in some way in the longer term. “Should a new pool prove possible and financially viable, this is only the first step in what is likely to be a long journey.”
The new pool would replace the ill-fated Aquasplash, demolished at the end of last year. The pool was closed in 2007 after a major leak was discovered. The council later said it was not financially viable to keep it open.

And in 2008 hopes for a new pool were raised when council chiefs unveiled plans for a new multi-million pound replacement facility on the college’s grounds as part of the New Horizons project.

But the council had to pull the plug on the plan because of financial problems!

   
             
   

IT WAS RECENTLY ON THE NEWS THAT LONDONERS HAD TO WALK 20MINS TO THEIR NEAREST SWIMMING POOL

WE HAVE TO DRIVE 45 MINUTES TO OURS!

THE POSTCARD BELOW WAS POSTED NOT LONG AFTER THE LUTTRELL FAMILY OF DUNSTER PRESENTED MINEHEAD WITH THIS WONDERFUL
OLYMPIC SIZE, FILTERED SEAWATER SWIMMING POOL. THE WRITER SAYS:
"I WISH WE HAD ONE LIKE THIS IN PENARTH"....>> I WISH WE HAD ONE LIKE THIS IN MINEHEAD !!!

   
   
 
   
                   
       
                   
                 
    JULY 22nd 2016 - Lidl's is near completion on the old Aquasplash site. I have yet to take some photos.      
 
Work started, picture from Gazette
           
   
     
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