Case study: Penzance Jubilee Pool

Case study: Penzance Jubilee Pool

People swimming and playing in the Jubilee Pool
Opening of the geothermal pool
Penzance's Jubilee Pool won the Sustainable Project of the Year Award at the Museums + Heritage Awards 2021

The project

Jubilee Pool is an 85-year-old Art Deco lido located near Penzance’s harbour in Cornwall. After undergoing refurbishment, it opened in 2020 with the UK’s first geothermally heated pool.

The pioneering geothermal heating system works by extracting warm water from a 410m deep geothermal well – the height of one and a half Eiffel Towers. The warm water is then used to heat the pool’s fresh seawater, that has naturally drawn in at high tide. This sustainable method removes the need for fossil fuel energy, substantially reducing the pool’s environmental impact.

The organisation 

Since 2017, the lido has been run by Jubilee Pool Penzance Limited – a charitable Community Benefit Society. The society is a community-run social enterprise with over 1,400 shareholders. All profits go towards the upkeep and running of the pool, plus, the preservation of the Grade II listed art-deco building, built to celebrate King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935.

The project's funding 

Jubilee Pool is such an iconic place and means so much to the people around here.

Richard James, Jubilee Pool Business Manager

Jubilee pool had suffered damage from storms and sea weather over the years, as with many pre-war lidos. Funding was needed to bring life back to the pool.

Also, people often struggled with the chilly water temperature. In order to support long-term economic growth, the pool had to be open more than four months a year and not be so dependent on the weather. 

Jubilee pool under construction
Jubilee pool under construction

Richard James, Business Manager from Jubilee Pool, said: “Jubilee Pool is such an iconic place and means so much to the people around here. This project was about bringing environmental sustainability to the pool and also financial stability, ensuring that will be here and enjoyed for generations to come.”

Jubilee Pool received £1.8m of funding from a public share offer and a mix of loans and grants. Though The National Lottery Heritage Fund did not fund the development of the geothermal pool, we granted £49,000 in 2017 for its Jubilee Pool Stories project which created an archive of images and artifacts from throughout the lido’s history.

The results 

Jubilee Pool won the Heritage Fund-sponsored Sustainable Project of the Year award at the annual Museums + Heritage Awards in July 2021. The awards celebrate the UK’s most innovative and inspiring museums, heritage and cultural organisations. Winning the award demonstrated that Jubilee Pool’s project used some of the most ground-breaking sustainable practices in the sector.

Drew Bennellick, Head of Land and Nature Policy at the Heritage Fund, said: “By celebrating organisations across the UK who place sustainability at the heart of what they do, we can inspire others to take steps to tackle the climate and nature crises that we face.”

 Why they won the award

Jubilee Pool uses innovative geothermal heating to maintain a heated pool for the winter. They also keep chemical use in their pools to a minimum through a robust cleaning regime, reducing chlorine usage by 75%. This is to avoid draining chemicals into the sea and affecting wildlife. These practices have massively reduced Jubilee Pool’s environmental impact, successfully meeting sustainability goals.

The lido is now in a better condition, making it a better place to visit – this contributes to the improvement of local community wellbeing with year-round swims.

Also, spin-off projects such as Jubilee Pool Stories provides new and improved ways to help people make sense of the lido’s fascinating heritage.

The future 

Jubilee Pool has demonstrated its resilience and given itself a secure future. The investment project has transformed the lido and will enable year-round opening for the future. More visitors will be drawn in after the construction of:

  • the new geothermally heated section of the pool
  • upgraded changing facilities and showers
  • a new café with doubled the seating capacity
  • a new multi-purpose community space

Jubilee Pool now has a capacity of up to 600 swimmers, depending on lifeguard levels, with the geothermal pool accommodating up to 50 people per session.

People swimming and playing with children in the geothermal pool
Families swimming in the geothermal pool

Top tips 

Jubilee Pool shared their top tips with us on how to deliver a successful project:

  • have a clear vison of what you want to achieve from the outset and work methodically towards it
  • communicate with stakeholders regularly with updates on the project, to build engagement and understanding
  • form good working relationships with contractors, this will help in the build phase when issues arise
  • when a key aim of the project is sustainability, make sure that this is mirrored in all practices across the business and that this ambition doesn’t stop with the completion of the ‘big’ project

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