Jubilee Swimming Pool on Jubilee Road in Knowle, South Bristol, was opened in 1937 and provides a five-lane, 22-metre pool and a small gymnasium.
The facility is much-loved by the community of Knowle and is well-used, drawing people from across South Bristol including from Knowle, Totterdown, Brislington, Stockwood, Knowle West, Hengrove, Bishopsworth and Whitchurch.
Since reopening after lockdown in April 2021, the pool’s membership has grown from 300+ pre-COVID to a peak of 630+, and it is regularly used by a range of groups/clubs and seven schools, as well as non-members who pay per session. Over 4,500 people used the pool and/or gym between mid-April and mid-December 2021.
It provides a range of services including accessible swimming sessions for vulnerable children and adults, aqua fit, baby sessions, children’s swimming lessons, women-only sessions, triathlon training, family swims and parties. The pool is part of the local history of the area and has been used by many generations of the same families. It contributes to our sense of community, serving as a valuable hub that enables people to come together.
A vital community resource that must be saved
Users of the pool and gym stress how critical the facility is to their mental and physical health and wellbeing. This is made even more important by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact that the pool is situated in one of the poorest parts of Bristol with some of the worst socio-economic and health outcomes.
A 2017 Swim England-commissioned report outlines the many benefits of swimming, including that people who engage in any amount of swimming have a 41% lower risk of death due to heart disease and stroke, and a 28% lower risk of early death than those who never swim. The same report also acknowledges the importance of adequate opportunities to learn to swim and have positive experiences of swimming in early life, particularly for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, in preventing drowning - a leading cause of avoidable and tragic death.
Affordable and accessible leisure facilities play a key role in tackling the social and health inequalities that negatively impact the lives of people living in South Bristol.
Jubilee Pool is one of the smaller leisure facilities in Bristol. This attracts people who value its size and whose personal circumstances render other larger pools - such as Hengrove Park Leisure Centre - inaccessible.
Threats from closure
The pool has been threatened with permanent closure by Bristol City Council (BCC) several times over a number of years. Following temporary closure of all leisure facilities for the national COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, the Council consulted on the future of the pool and presented no proposed scenarios in which the pool would reopen.
In reaction to the Council’s 2020 consultation on the future of the pool, Friends of Jubilee Pool (FoJP) mobilised the local community, leading to the submission of 1,826 consultation responses and successfully pressuring the pool’s reopening in April 2021 after the winter lockdown.
However, the Council’s recent Leisure Facilities Investment Strategy consultation (which closed 7th November) made it clear that BCC intends to focus its future investment on fewer, larger facilities and that Jubilee Pool will close at the end of March 2022 unless there is a successful bid for a Community Asset Transfer(CAT) through which the Council is willing to hand over the pool into community ownership.
Friends of Jubilee Pool (FoJP) is a community group which registered as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee in December 2021 in order to bid to take over management of the pool and gym, via the CAT process. It has five directors and an advisory group of 15 people who are all volunteers from the local area and users of the pool. If we are successful with our CAT bid, we will then also apply for registered charity status.
The timeline for the CAT process is incredibly tight!
- CAT expression of interest submission - SUBMITTED 7th January (View EOI document here)
- BCC Cabinet meeting to decide on the future of the pool and the leisure facilities investment strategy - 15th February 2022
- Full business plan and supporting documentation submission - 31st March 2022
- Final CAT decision issued - Mid-May 2022
- Organisation signs lease with BCC and begins management of the pool - End July 2022
There is a huge amount to do in order to secure the future of Jubilee Pool! Luckily, in FoJP and members of the local community, we have formed a band of dedicated and passionate volunteers hellbent on saving the pool from closure.
HOWEVER...we will forever remain in need of more people to get involved and make some noise on behalf of our campaign.
Follow our progress!