Described as one of the most unusual and pleasingly designed lidos of the era, the Jubilee Pool was designed in the early 1930s by Captain F Latham, the Borough Engineer. The pool was opened with great celebration in May 1935, the year of King George V’s Silver Jubilee.
The Pool was built upon a traditional bathing spot at the Battery Rocks near the harbour at Penzance. Cleverly designed to cope with the full ferocity of the Cornish seas, The pool is triangular in shape yet with gentle curves, making it a most pleasant environment.
A guide book from 1938 tells us that:
In many respects the design is unique architecturally, partly from a point of view of necessity in conforming with existing conditions of wave elements and rocks which controlled the outline. Streamlines have been used to the greatest advantage in meeting the direction of the storm waves, while a Cubist style has been adopted in the interior in providing diving platforms and steps… The whole pool is surrounded by high streamlined sea walls terraced up within the interior so as to give aspect and effect. They also serve to strengthen the structure.”
These walls also protect swimmers from strong, offshore winds and form terraces for spectators.
Like many pre-war lidos, over the years Jubilee Pool suffered damage from storms and the outdoor environment. In 2014 it was hit by a catastrophic storm which caused huge amounts of damage and the future of the lido was very bleak indeed.
In 2017, the operation of the pool was taken over by Jubilee Pool Penzance Limited, a community run social enterprise in the form of a charitable Community Benefit Society. This enabled the pool to be run for the community by the community. We are an exemplar of devolution of a formerly Council-owned asset back to the community.
In order to be sustainable and here for years to come (not reliant on public funding), we had to look at ways we could be open more than four months a year and not so dependent on the weather. In 2018 we launched our ambitious fundraising Community Share offer via Crowdfunder to help geothermally heat a section of the pool.
The investment project is a great demonstration of the power of community. Nearly £540,000 of the £1.8m funding came from a public share offer resulting in an organisation truly owned by the community with 1400 shareholders of which 970 are local people. The remainder of the funding for the investment came through a mix of loans and grants from Power to Change, Architectural Heritage Fund and Cooperative Community Investment Fund
The project has transformed Jubilee and will enable year round opening. It saw the construction of the new geothermal pool, upgraded changing facilities and showers, a new cafe with double the seating capacity and a new multi-purpose community space.
We are really proud of our community history and to celebrate it awen productions CIC and artist Jane Bailey have embarked on Jubilee Pool Stories; an intergenerational, three-year creative heritage project to gather, digitise, interpret and share the pool’s rich cultural archive.
The project is developing an extensive online archive, a book and new films / media work about the pool to be completed December 2020. The online archive currently includes hundreds of photos and artefacts and more is being added: oral histories, films, animations, creative interpretations and written memories of the pool. The Jubilee Pool Stories team have also created a Heritage Timeline, which will be installed in the Jubilee Pool’s new Community Space room, free to visit on the top terrace.
Over the last three years we have worked with local school children, students from Penwith College and Falmouth University, artists in Cornwall and connected with artists around the UK to celebrate our beautiful lido and create new artwork about it.
Jubilee Pool Stories is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, The Tanner Trust and Falmouth University.
View the archive here.
You can now become a member of Jubilee Pool. get your summer season pass here!