South West Wales

Brynamman Lido sunk by £20,000 repair bill

An outdoor swimming pool built by miners will be closed this summer for the first time in almost 80 years.

The cost of repairs to the Brynamman Lido in Carmarthenshire are put at over £20,000.

Volunteers who run the pool throughout the school summer holidays say children in the village are heartbroken.

The county council, which owns the site, said the money to repair the pool was not available this year but its ambition is to reopen it in 2011.

The pool, built during the depression of the early 1930s by out-of-work voluntary labour, attracts around 2,000 visits each summer.

More than 100,000 gallons of water are usually siphoned off from the River Amman to fill it and at the end of the holidays it is drained and mothballed for 10 months of the year.

A committee of five volunteers fundraise and run it during the school holidays with the local authority taking care of maintenance and providing lifeguards.

But this year the gates will remain closed, with the long periods of freezing weather over the winter blamed for damage to the drains and pump house.

Four generations of Jackie Bird's family have used the pool and she said youngsters in the village were desperately disappointed.

"It's such a shame because the children of the village are coming up to me and asking when it's going to open and I'm having to tell them it's not - it's heartbreaking," she said.

Mrs Bird, who is chairwoman of the volunteers, said they had offered £5,000 from their funds to try and reopen it but had been told the council could not make up the rest.

"We are going to do everything possible to make sure it reopens next year," she added.

"It's important to keep this open because it's the last open air lido in Wales.

"It still has most of its original features - including the turnstiles. To me it reminds me of Hi-De-Hi, it's a step back in time."

Image caption The site has many original features including the turnstiles

When the 30x15m pool was built, volunteers used pick-axes, spades, wheelbarrows and trams loaned from nearby collieries to create the pool basin.

Many were miners and they were given a packet of 10 Woodbines for a day's work and the non-smokers a bar of chocolate.

"My grandfather used it. My father took me since I can remember. My children use it," added Mrs Bird.

Carmarthenshire council said when it started to prepare to reopen the pool this year a number of faults were found.

A spokesman said it would cost over £20,000 with major work needed to the main drain and the pump house.

"We just do not have that in the budget," he added.

"We still have an ambition to make sure that the lido reopens. We are going to see what we can do in accessing funds."

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