Should Barry's iconic lido be rebuilt?

Barry And District News: HEYDAY: Knap Lido HEYDAY: Knap Lido

A CAMPAIGN to rebuild Barry’s much-loved iconic lido has attracted almost 6,000 supporters since its launch this week.

Vale residents and former visitors of the Cold Knap Lido have vigorously pledged their support for a social network campaign to restore the 1926 attraction which was, at 120 yards long and 20 yards wide, one of the largest open-air pools in the UK.

People who have joined the Facebook group – Rebuild Knap Lido – have backed the drive for the pool to be restored to the glories of its 1950s heyday. Almost 6,000 supporters have joined since Monday, June 23.

10,000 people previously signed a petition to keep the attraction – regarded as Barry’s ‘Jewel in the Crown’ – open, but the Council closed the pool in 1996 saying it was too costly to maintain and only 1000 people had used it that year.

Demolition of the buildings and infilling of the pool began in March 2004.

Rebuild Knap Lido campaign founder Barrie Evans, of Friars Road, Barry Island, said the £6.3m project to transform the derelict lido – closed for 20 years - at Ynysangharad Park had inspired his campaign - with that project going ahead thanks to £3m in European funding through the Welsh Government.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has also contributed £2.3m, Rhondda Cynon Taf council £900,000, Welsh heritage body Cadw, £100,000.

Barrie, 62, said a former Vale Council director had said the site was ripe for a housing development in around 10 to 15 years time.

Barrie said: “It’s about 15 years now. How can they do it in Pontypridd? It’s about time this pool got rebuilt. It’s part of Barry’s heritage and there’s nothing left in this area for children to do except hang around street corners and ride skateboards on pavements.

“I remember sneaking in under the fence. Mr Baker (the lifeguard) never caught me jumping off the top board. I didn’t dive. I just jumped. I loved my days down there and people enjoying themselves.

“The reason people didn’t use it was it began to decay and the council let it go into disrepair – that’s the reason it closed. They spent more to demolish it than it would cost to maintain it. Dow Corning wanted to manage it, but they wanted to put their name in lights and the council wouldn’t let them.

“I want the council to give us our pool.”

69-year-old Richard Davies, of Bull Cliff Walk, said he fully backed the campaign.

“I was there every day,” he said: “Three pence for the bus from King Square to the Knap and 4p to go in.”

Roy Dodds, 70, of Llantwit Major, said the lido was a place where memories were created.

He said: “It was a magical place. Families thoroughly enjoyed it and I was sad to see it go. Mr Baker the lifeguard was something else. He never lost one and then one drowned after he retired.”

Vale Council, director of Visible Services and Housing, Miles Punter said: “The Vale of Glamorgan Council has not received any proposals to redevelop the site of the former Knap Lido.

The council is always seeking new ways to attract visitors to the Vale and to make it a better place for residents to live. We are always open to new ideas, and we would welcome with interest any viable plans for a new Lido.”

Vale MP Alun Cairns said: “If there is demand, it is important that local residents and the wider community are involved in the proposals.”

Vale AM Jane Hutt had not commented at the time of going to press.

A petition to have the lido rebuilt is accessible through change.org and via the Facebook group Rebuild Knap Lido.

What do you think? What memories does Knap Lido have for you?

Email: barrynews@gwent-wales.co.uk

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