The Jubilee Pool

The Jubilee Pool

By . Last updated

Jubilee Pool - Penzance
Jubilee Pool

Situated at the eastern end of Penzance's promenade is one of the jewels in Penzance's crown - the iconic art deco Jubilee Pool. Opened in 1935, to celebrate King George V's Silver Jubilee the pool is testament to Penzance's standing as one of the country's premier holiday resorts of the time.

The pool (or lido as such open air pools are known) is a striking piece of architecture that does justice to its location on the tip of Penzance's "Holy Headland". It was designed by Captain F. Latham, the borough engineer, and features a triangular shape which both follows the line of the rock and presents an aspect able to withstand the force of winter storms. Inside and out, sweeping curves mark the boundaries defining the pool's art deco credentials. The lido itself is arranged with platforms of several levels offering areas for sun bathing and viewing the bathing area.

As you would expect the water comes direct from the sea of the Promenade. To avoid the water level rising and falling with the tide there are gates on the western side of the pool allowing water in and out as and when required.

The location of the pool at Battery Rocks has always been an area popular with swimmers. Even to this day swimmers go in off the headland daily throughout the year. However, in the days before the pool was built this was exclusively the preserve of men. Ladies did bathe at other points along the Promenade beach but this often involved the use of cumbersome bathing machines to protect the lady's dignity should anyone see more than an uncovered ankle! The Jubilee Pool saw the start of an era where this prudishness was abandoned and the benefits of taking the waters in the open air where extolled.

Jubilee Pool Reflection - Penzance
Jubilee Pool Reflection

Since its heyday the fortune of the Jubilee Pool have ebbed and waned with the fortunes of Penzance. During the late 1980s the bathing pool fell into a state of disrepair with over £250,000 being required to repair the both the structure and inner lining of the pool. The pool did in fact close for period in the early 1990s but the formation of the Jubilee Pool Association, lead by architect John Clarke, coerced Penwith Council into remedying the situation and the Jubilee Pool became a listed building in the process.

These days the pool is one of only a small number of remaining lidos built around the UK in the 1930s. At 73 metres by 100 metres in length the Jubilee Pool is not only the largest seawater lido, but the largest surviving outdoor lido in the country.

The Geothermal Pool

Jubilee Pool - Geothermal pool
Geothermal pool

In September 2020 the Jubilee Pool became the first geothermally heated seawater pool in the UK. Whilst this might be the first lido to be heated this way the Romans were a couple of thousand years ahead in Bath!

The pool water is warmed to between 30 and 35C by pumping water over 400 metres (1,400ft) down a specially constructed well to where the rocks are hot. On returning to the surface this water is run through a heat exchanger which warms up the pool water to just the right temperature. 

Entry to the geothermal pool is by ticket only and is a bit more expensive than the standard pool. The sessions are an hour long and are generally booked to capacity. And whilst there aren't many takers for the main pool during the winter months, the geothermal pool is open all year round.

Jubilee Pool Cafe

Jubilee Pool Cafe
Jubilee Pool Cafe

Situated overlooking the pool is the Jubilee Pool Café which is a great spot to start the day with an al fresco coffee or a spot of lunch. The cafe has recently been upgraded to include a more permanent indoor seating area.

Open throughout the day and into the eventing the licensed cafe serves a range of light meals and pizza, all made from locally sourced, sustainable produce. 

The cafe is run as a social enterprise with all profits reinvested into the future of the Jubilee Pool.

Jubilee Pool Temperature and Dimensions

The pool is roughly in the shape of a right-angled triangle with the longest side (external) stretching for almost 100 metres. The widest point is 56 metres.

The longest stretch of the pool itself is 73 metres.

The main pool ranges from 0.9m to 2.25m in depth, although this is slightly affected by the tide. The kid's pool is 0.6 metres deep while the geothermal pool ranges from 0.85 to 1.35 metres deep.

Combined, all three pools contain in the region of 5 million litres of sea water. This is not filtered in order to maintain as natural a bathing experience as possible - it does however have limited chemical treatment. The geothermal pool water is run through a UV filter system owing to the higher water temperature.

Both the main pool and the kid's pool are unheated. This means the pool temperature is generally 1-2 degrees higher than the surrounding sea temperature. The geothermal pool is heated to 30-35 degrees throughout the year, regardless of the weather.

Up to 600 swimmers can be accommodated in the Jubilee Pool, with the geothermal pool holding up to 50.

Jubilee Pool summer fun

The pool opens daily from 10.30am to 6pm (7pm Thursday) with half price entry after 3.30pm.