During the early 20th Century much wrangling on the subject of enclosed swimming baths for Clevedon took place but in October 1926, urged on by an exceptionally forward-looking Councillor, Frederick Nutting, the earlier proposition of enclosing Salt House Bay was again taken up by the Council.
Mr Gower Pimm, the engineer consulted, suggested that the scheme should be adopted at a cost of £5,440, with a wall 17.5 feet above ordnance datum, needing a wall 10 feet high. This would give a satisfactory water line and water area.
After a period of negotiation and debate … a decision was finally made by the Inspector for the Ministry of Health in July 1927 that the scheme should go ahead.
Mr Nutting purchased Salt House from the owner, who had objected on the grounds that part of the sea wall on his land might be adversely affected. This enabled him to sell the Council the woods behind the house at cost thereby forming an access to Poets’ Walk. The Crown sold the rights to the foreshore to the town for £150, and Mr Gower Pimm applied to the Mercantile Board of Trade for approval of the scheme.
In September 1927 tenders were put out for the scheme, with a clause inserted that 90% of the men employed must be local. This would ease the appalling post war unemployment situation in the town at that time. Tenders from the seventeen firms which applied were closely examined, and that from Messrs J Moore and Co of Nailsea, at £5195 and 6d was accepted. After some problems with the Board of Trade, work began after March 1928 on a slightly reduced plan which was to enclose an area of three and a half acres. The work involved clearing the bottom of the and moving the material to make a raised promenade inland of the sea wall stretching 875 feet. A lower promenade was made between the sea wall and the lake, so that people and bathers could walk around the inland edge.
Amazingly, after decades of argument, counter-argument and delays, the lake was in use for boating in August 1928, the income being £48/7/0d for boating and £14/4/3d for bathing, a total of £62/11/3d for the first week of the month alone!
In November 1928 the Ministry of Health was asked to approve a request for a further loan of £1,500 for extra work including a bandstand, shelter and bathing stations. The lake was almost complete! A pavilion was not included at this point. The plans were sanctioned by the Ministry in March 1929 with alterations to the path round Wain’s Hill. Sir Ambrose Elton had generously ceded his right to the paths which now form Poets’ Walk.
Tenders had been put out for the bathing and boating, but without any satisfactory offers, so the Council decided that they would run the scheme themselves for the first year. The needs of the newly formed Clevedon Swimming Club, as well as those of the Aquatic Sports (including the Long Swim) held since 1927, and swimming for local schools, were discussed and agreed.
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