For ten years, there were talks of creating a heated pool at Jubilee. The idea was said to have originated from Charlie Nixon, the brother of former Jubilee Pool Director, Martin Nixon. Following a trip to New Zealand, where its volcanic and lively landscapes make for some of the most incredible geothermal pools in the world, Charlie suggested the idea in response to a discussion on how some of Jubilee’s visitors struggled with the brisk waters of the sea pool. A decade and £1.8 million pounds’ worth of funding later, and the suggestion has finally become a reality.
The road to Jubilee’s toasty new geothermal lido, the first of its kind in the UK, was a long and arduous one. From its initial proposal to Cornwall Council from Martin himself to the massive industrial efforts performed by Geothermal Energy Limited to construct the geothermal well that heats a section of the pool. There’s also upgraded changing facilities, showers, a new café with double the seating capacity and a new multi-purpose community space. Overall, it’s been a complete facelift that’s catapulted Jubilee into 2020 with style. Of course, the Jubilee team had plenty of help, the £1.8 million invest project owes £540,000 of that funding to a community of 1,400 as the result of a public share offer, in which 970 of those contributors are local people. The remaining funds came through a mixture of loans and grants from Power to Change, the Architectural Heritage Fund and the Cooperative Community Investment Fund. A real community effort to see this project come to life now means that the pool will be able to open year-round, offering a better service than ever before.
What to Expect
The geothermal pool works by extracting warm water from a 410m deep geothermal well, which is just ten metres shy of Brown Willy – Cornwall’s highest hill on Bodmin Moor – from sea level, to give you an idea. Taking the heat from the water withdrawn and using it to heat pumps, distributing it into the pool via a heat exchanger before re-injecting the cooler water back into the ground, means that the combined system can sustain the temperature of the pool with a very low carbon footprint. In fact, 80% of the new pool’s heat is geothermally sourced; the system is one of the first of its kind in the UK and is set to act as a pioneering piece of technology for geothermal, low carbon heat supply.
What does all this innovative science lead to? A steamy 35 degrees of saltwater goodness for visitors to bathe in and soak away the stress of the day in one of Cornwall’s most picturesque settings, offering a unique alfresco experience within the pre-existing sea pool.
The official opening of the new geothermal pool took place at the end of August this year, during which a local swimming family enjoyed the inaugural honour of being the first group to experience the geothermal pool. It was a privilege originally reserved for Joyce Cooper, a local woman and lifetime supporter who had been attending Jubilee Pool since its grand opening in 1935. Suffering from mobility issues, Sea Swim Cornwall organised a charity fundraise which saw members Tom and Jo swim 22km in one day across a number of Cornish beaches, raising money to purchase a specialist aquatic wheelchair that would enable Joyce, a well-known former-swimmer, swimming teacher and first female President of Cornwall Swimming, to take one last dip. Sadly however, Joyce passed away before the geothermal pool was completed, but for granddaughter Hannah, the pool still holds Joyce’s legacy and spirit,
“[The specialist aquatic wheelchair] has been permanently gifted to Jubilee Pool to help other mobility impaired and disabled people gain access and enjoy the renowned physical and mental health benefits of sea water swimming,” explains Hannah, “which is a brilliantly befitting legacy from Gran!”
“We’d like to extend our thanks to the pool staff and the other individuals that helped in our attempt to fulfil Gran’s final wish, along with everyone who kindly donated to the charity fundraiser. Gran was thrilled with the response and the prospect of plunging into the new geo pool; and though it was bittersweet with her not being there to share the moment with us, she was definitely present in spirit – as she will be whenever we visit the pool in the future.”
For Nicola Murdoch, Interim Chief Operations Officer at Jubilee Pool, the efforts for Joyce highlight the importance of Jubilee Pool’s community, “When Joyce was asked to describe the pool in one word, her response was ‘anchor’. Joyce and her family remind us just how much the pool means to the community, and how it truly is a part of people’s lives. We will continue to do our very best to make sure it’s an anchor for many years to come.”
Now open to the general public, tickets to the pool must be booked online and in advance and in the true spirit of community, the Jubilee Pool team want to ensure that visiting the pool is affordable for local people. Two discounts are available, one for Cornwall residents and another for Penzance Town Council Parish residents, proof of residency is required. There will be at least five sessions running evert day, with morning sessions reserved for adults only. Additionally, there will be three early evening adult only sessions per week, offering the perfect way to relax after a hard day’s work. There’s also hope for more exciting offers and packages for the future, but these are dependent on the current circumstances regarding Covid-19, as Nicola explains here,
“It is our intention to operate the geothermal pool all year round,” she says, “however given the current circumstances and restrictions that we have in place it may not be viable for us to remain open this winter. In the longer term, we hope to offer packages such as ‘geothermal and fizz’ for sundowners as well as ‘geothermal and dine’ options. Customers will also be able to combine geothermal sessions with treatments such as facials and massages.”
It’s a monumental moment for the Penzance community and one that has seen countless hours of hard work from Jubilee Pool’s team and many others to make this enormous new phase of this iconic part of Cornwall come to life. Not only is this a testament for Cornwall’s leading efforts in geothermal energy in the UK, but it’s also a pretty idyllic and cosy way to enjoy the beautiful waters of Mounts Bay whilst gazing over its spectacular views.
To book your tickets and find out more, visit www.jubileepool.co.uk