A group of volunteers have appointed architects for the next phase of regeneration work at the historic Tarlair pool.
The Friends of Tarlair Community Group has chosen the joint bid by London-based Studio Octopi Architects and Consultants and Heritage Architecture out of six teams invited to tender their work.
As part of the second phase of restoration work, the architects will be upgrading the pool’s pavilion to include a tearoom, social space, workshop and toilet facilities.
Chairwoman Pat Wain said: “The Friends of Tarlair Community Group unanimously chose Studio Octopi and Heritage Architecture for their clarity of thought, enthusiasm for outdoor swimming and experience with other pools and heritage across the UK.
“The duos work with Save Grange Lido community group was felt to be directly relevant to the restoration of the former pavilion at Tarlair. We look forward to working with Chris and his team.”
The Friends of Tarlair Community Group was founded as an interest group in 2012 with the aim of creating long-term stability for the Tarlair pool area and returning it to its former glory as a community asset.
In 2020, the group gained a 99-year lease from the local authorities so they could move forward with their regeneration project.
The group believe the next steps will provide visitors and residents with a “pleasant and interesting environment where they can enjoy spending some time”.
‘An exceptionally beautiful area’
Director of Studio Octopi, Chris Romer-Lee, said: “Our work has included a significant understanding of how new and 1930’s community pools can by commercially viable today.
“We’re thrilled to have won this invited tender not only because of the architectural significance of this Category A structure, but because this marks a significant step forward for the local community in bringing back into use this historic asset.
“The health benefits of swimming are proven but this facility will do so much more than just provide a place to swim, this will be a community meeting place, for young and old.
“I had the benefit of visiting the site just before the pandemic, this is an exceptionally beautiful area of the UK coastline. I for one cannot wait to swim in the restored pool, in the meantime I will have to settle with site meeting sea swims.”
The first phase of the restoration work was completed in 2015 and involved securing the structure of the toddler pool, boating pool and terraces. The final phase of the restoration will involve work on the swimming pool that is situated nearest to the sea.
The upcoming work has been made possible thanks to funding secured through Aberdeenshire Council’s Macduff Vision and Action Plan.
Councillor Ross Cassie, chairman of Macduff Development Partnership, said: “Aberdeenshire Council are delighted to provide assistance to Friends of Tarlair to get the project moving.
“We submitted on behalf of the group an application to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund in June of this year, and the appointment of the design team will further develop the concept into a project with planning permission.”
The project’s planning and listed building consent application will be put forward in November and it is hoped that construction will begin next year once funding is secured.
Councillor Mark Findlater added: “Friends of Tarlair Community Group have worked tirelessly to bring the Tarlair site back into use and have garnered support from across the communities of Banff and Macduff in its development.
“This is a real step forward for them and starts to put the restoration of the facility on a firm footing.”
A vibrant history
The Tarlair Triple Pool Complex was designed by Macduff surveyor John Miller in 1930 before opening to the public a few years later. The art deco building was A-listed in 2007 which means the council must safeguard its historic character.
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the pool drew in thousands of visitors each year and was host to a number of swimming contests.
The empty and deteriorating pool had become a top music venue by the 1990s where large crowds gathered to watch performers such as Wet Wet Wet and Runrig.
In more recent years, the focus at Tarlair pool has been on fundraising to make the complex safe before the next steps in its renovation.