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Tarlair Pool in Macduff, Aberdeenshire. Credit - Friends of Tarlair Community Group.
Tarlair Pool in Macduff, Aberdeenshire. Credit - Friends of Tarlair Community Group.

Splashing News! AHF Grants Support for the Restoration of Tarlair Pool and Changing Rooms

29 April 2024

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is pleased to have awarded a Project Development Grant to the Friends of Tarlair Community Group towards Phase 3 of its project to regenerate the Tarlair swimming pool complex. This was one of 14 awards made at the latest grants meeting, where projects across England, Scotland and Wales were awarded funding totalling £117,105.

Set in a spectacular location in a rocky bay to the east of Macduff, Aberdeenshire, Tarlair is one of only three known surviving outdoor swimming pool complexes in Scotland. Built between 1930 and 1931, the triple tidal pool structure is unique in design. To this day, it retains much of its original appearance, comprising a swimming pool, boating pool and paddling pool, with an associated tea pavilion, changing rooms and kiosks. At high tide, all parts of the pool are engulfed by the sea. After Tarlair’s closure in 1995, there were concerns that the structure may be lost to the elements.


Image: Historic photograph of Tarlair Swimming Pool. Photo courtesy of the Friends of Tarlair Community Group.

A Save Tarlair Group was formed in 2012 after a public consultation meeting. Following this, a three phase approach to rescue, restore and reopen the Tarlair complex was taken. Phase 1 included repairs to the structure of the paddling pool, boating pool and terraces. This has enhanced the appearance of the site and allowed public access for walking, relaxation and the sailing of model boats once again.

The Friends of Tarlair Community Group, established in 2014, now aims to complete Phase 2 and 3 of this project. Capital funding has already been secured for Phase 2, which is to restore the Pavilion block as a café and workshop. This will serve as a catalyst for new local economic activity and increased community pride - open year-round, the café and community space will accommodate musical evenings, heritage talks, small celebrations and film nights, while the fit-for-purpose workshop will offer a range of creative activities. Work on the Pavilion is currently on site, with it due to reopen this Summer. Meanwhile, fundraising has now started for Phase 3, which is to revive and reopen the original swimming pool and associated changing rooms.

The Historic Environment Scotland-supported AHF grant will fund a feasibility and cost study on the swimming pool and changing rooms. This will assess their present condition and enable the Friends of Tarlair Community Group to ascertain the capital cost and work required to restore the structures to their former glory. 

Pat Wain, Chair of the Friends of Tarlair Community Group, said:

The Friends of Tarlair Community Group are delighted to receive 50% of the required funds from AHF to allow the Tarlair Swimming Pool Feasibility Study to go ahead.

‘The study is the necessary step towards site completion, which will bring the A-listed, triple pool structures back to their original condition. The renovation of this iconic structure, set within a dramatically beautiful bay, will play a huge part in the regeneration of the area, and with that bring back the pride the community has for this unique place.

‘We look forward to a future where Tarlair will be an important facility for both community and tourism.'

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