Belfast Telegraph

Newcastle's 100-year-old open-air sea water swimming pool faces closure threat in bid to save just £45,000

By Amanda Ferguson

Campaigners in Co Down are desperately trying to save one of the last open-air sea water swimming pools in Ireland from closure.

More than 1,700 people have so far signed a petition urging Newry, Mourne and Down Council to stop the Rock Pool in Newcastle from shutting after more than 80 years of operation.

The pool is open for eight weeks during the summer months at a cost of £45,000 to the new council, which is looking to save money in these times of austerity.

A statement from petition organisers says: "Newry, Mourne and Down Council are proposing to close the iconic Rock Pool in Newcastle Co Down in order to save £45,000,

"The 100-year-old pool is a much-loved and well-supported facility and is the last open-air sea water swimming pool in Ireland.

"It has provided generations of locals, sports people and visitors the opportunity to learn water safety, lifesaving and swimming in a unique cold sea water environment.

"It is a true cross-community facility and has attracted visitors to Newcastle town for 100 years."

Last night, Sinn Fein councillor Willie Clarke told the Belfast Telegraph he appreciated the importance of the Rock Pool to the local community and believed it should remain open.

Mr Clarke also said the Rock Pool provided "a valuable resource for people to enjoy swimming in a sea water environment with added safety. It also trains many young people in lifesaving skills".

"As a Newcastle councillor I spoke in opposition to the proposal to consider the closure of the Rock Pool at the last rates workshop," he added.

"I outlined the benefits of the Rock Pool to locals and tourists alike, also the local historical importance of the Rock Pool. I left the officers in no doubt the anger they would face from the community." He also had words of praise for Garth Craig, a Ballynahinch DUP councillor who spoke in support of the Rock Pool.

"As a person who is from the Harbour area I understand how valuable this community asset is to the people," Mr Clarke said.

One woman shared her thoughts on the campaign Facebook page.

"It's completely ridiculous that we are still fighting to hold onto a treasure such as this," she wrote. "This is a highly unique place with a rich history, a place where thousands of people have availed of its amazing facilities. A Newcastle institution worth fighting for."

  • The petition address is: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-the-rock-pool.html

Online petition

An online campaign has been launched to save the Rock Pool in Newcastle from closure. More than 1,700 people have signed a petition to stop the facility from shutting after more than 80 years. It says: "We, the undersigned, call on Newry, Mourne and Down Council to remove immediately the threat of closure from the Rock Pool Newcastle and to provide a commitment to keeping the Rock Pool open for the present and future generations of swimmers, sports people and visitors to Newcastle!"

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