Stonehaven’s open air swimming pool will soon be reopening for the first time in two years.
And thanks to almost 2,000 volunteer hours of improvement work, it is hoped the 2021 season will make a huge splash with visitors.
In the 2019 season – prior to the pandemic causing pool to stay closed throughout 2020 – more than 34,000 swimmers enjoyed a dip at the popular seaside tourist attraction.
Although the Friends of the Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool group were heartbroken it had to remain shut last year, the hard-working group of volunteers dedicated to the promotion and upkeep of the Olympic-sized, heated pool resolved to use lockdown as an opportunity to carry out some much needed maintenance and improvements.
Throughout 2020, volunteers gave up more than 1,400 hours of their free time on a wide range of tasks around the art deco site, including extensive painting efforts with more than 150 litres of paint, weed removal and general renovation of the building frontage.
And they have continued their efforts into 2021, where more than 500 hours of work has been carried out so far.
Sliding ever closer to a grand reopening
Last week, a brand new replacement chute was delivered by lorry, and this weekend it will be carefully put in place ahead of the grand reopening, which is planned for May 29.
The Friends group have carried out the £50,000 chute replacement project thanks to extensive fundraising in the community and from kind donations from the public.
The new chute is similar in size and steepness to the original, but as the pool is currently dry, it has not yet been speed-tested.
The Friends chairman Pete Hill said he will be “pulling chairman’s rank to ensure that it will have been adequately tested prior to offering it to the public”.
The pool’s importance to the Stonehaven community and economy
When asked how excited the Friends group are to see the pool being used again, Mr Hill said: “It’s almost too difficult to express in words without getting tearful.
“The pool is at the heart of the Stonehaven community and vital to the town.
“Not only is it a source of pleasure to the townspeople but also it acts as a magnet bringing visitors from far- and even further afield who help buoy up the local economy.
“We all missed the pool last year, I lost count of the number of times I would see both adults and kids looking longingly through the gate on the South Wall into the desolate pool area.
“This year it will be different – we’re not out of the woods yet and things will be different but we’re on our way back.”
The filtered sea water of the unique pool is kept at a warm 29C, making it an enjoyable day out no matter the often inclement weather of the north-east coastline.
Groups thanked for pooling their resources on upkeep
The pool is owned and operated by Aberdeenshire Council’s Live Life Aberdeenshire cultural and sports service, who work alongside the Friends group.
Mr Hill thanked all members of the group who “turned out in both fair and foul weather” to work on the pool, and Aberdeenshire Council for “the support and investment in one of their major assets in hard times”.
A spokesman for Live Life Aberdeenshire said: “It is pleasing to see the arrival of the new chute as work continues towards the re-opening of Stonehaven Open Air Pool later next month.
“We are extremely grateful to the Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Pool for fundraising for this fantastic piece of new equipment.
“The new chute is bound to bring added excitement and enjoyment for children, young people and families when they take a dip in the famous open air heated pool which has seen generations of tourists, visitors and residents flock to this much-loved seaside town.”