Lake day marks Clevedon Marine Lake's 90th birthday
PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 May 2019
Clevedon Marine Lake has celebrated its 90th birthday this month with its annual Lake Day, prompting reporter Eleanor Young to look back at how it went from dilapidated puddle to a tourist hot spot.
The lake, near Salthouse Fields, has had a patterned history, from being a must-visit location for the first part of the 20th century to almost being torn down in the latter end of the century.
CLEVEDON MARINE LAKE'S HISTORY
The lake, born out of a sea swimming heritage, was opened in March 1929.
It was developed as part of the huge Salthouse Fields development and featured changing facilities, a clubhouse and high diving and spring boards.
It also had a row of bathing huts and a bandstand and was a much-loved Victorian seaside attraction.
However, the arrival of cheap package holidays abroad saw a decline in the use of the lake in the 1950s.
By the turn of the century, the lake was in a bad state with cracks in the wall resulting in leaks.
A group of volunteers joined together to try to transform the lake to its former glory.
Using sawdust and ash, they blocked the cracks to slow down the leaks.
After much neglect, 2004 saw the lake's fortunes change thanks to a community partnership being set up.
The lake became a thriving place for sailors, swimmers and canoers.
FORMATION OF THE MARINE LAKE ENTHUSIASTS
In 2015, the lake was handed a £850,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore it with the support of North Somerset Council, Clevedon Town Council and Clevedon Civic Society.
The Marine Lake Enthusiasts (MARLENS) was set up in 2004 to deal with the upkeep of the lake.
MARLENS led the restoration and has taken charge of the lake's ongoing maintenance and cleaning.
Chairman Joe Norman said: "It was a great pity to see the lake was no longer in use.
"There was talk of it being decommissioned and torn down but with the help of volunteers, we went about using the sawdust and ash as temporary sealing to the cracks.
"In the early 2000s, a canoe club was set up and the Royal Yachting Club becoming active on the lake.
"We now had activity on the lake but it was still looking like some of the edges were cracking and we had concerns the wall would fall down.
"People in Clevedon loved their lake and came together to support it. With the help of the town council and local authority, we secured the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
"When it was repaired it was full of people. We are still aiming to do more and we still need volunteers."
THE LAKE TODAY
Marine Lake is a hotspot for outdoor swimmers once again with the silhouette of paddleboarders, canoers and sailers often starring in photos of the lake.
Ongoing engineering works and drainage and cleaning is regularly required but the charity is keen to continue to develop the lake for the benefit of the community.
MARLENS is considering offering lifeguarding qualifications for young people.
It is also investigating redeveloping the boat shed so the 'great asset' can be re-purposed.
To celebrate 90 years of Clevedon Lake, hundreds of people gathered to try various watersports, swim and enjoy live entertainment.
To get involved, visit www.clevedonmarinelake.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org