Jubilee Pool Restoration


The iconic Grade II listed seawater pool in Penzance was restored to its former glory thanks to a combined effort of community engagement and the local council.

Refurbishment in Keeping with Deco Design

Restoring an iconic 1930s lido to its former glory

During the winter storms of 2014, waves ripped through the structure of the Jubilee Pool, destroying terraces, changing rooms, railings and exposing the granite bedrock beneath the pool. The sea wall was badly cracked, and the sea came in under the pool itself, forcing the floor to rise and fracturing the pool walls.

A massive community campaign resulted in a £3m package to restore the Art Deco pool. Cormac was the lead contractor – offering expertise in marine infrastructure, heritage restoration, surfacing, collaboration with architects, and decades of experience working on community projects.

The refurbishment involved major works to the sea wall, rock anchors to secure the pool base, and a major re-build of the pool buildings and internal structure. The whole project had to be carried out within the limitations of Jubilee Pool’s Grade II listing status – meaning that materials, aesthetics and works had to be sympathetic to, and in keeping with the original 1930s design. 


Defence Against the Sea

Cormac’s expertise takes the lead

The triangular shape of the pool wasn’t just built to look pretty – it was designed that way to take the brunt of the waves. But after decades of battering from the sea, topped with the gigantic storm of 2014, the wall was badly cracked and close to collapse.

Cormac’s expertise in marine construction came into play. Using a ‘man cage’, our construction experts were lowered by crane over the edge of the sea wall to carry out major grouting, ensuring the wall was sealed and safe once again.

The pressure of the water in the storms had forced its way under the pool itself, causing the floor to rise up to 45cm in some places. So, Cormac drilled down into the granite bed rock and attached 155 rock anchors to the pool floor, making it rigid and robust against further hydrostatic damage.

A pressure relief valve and submersible pump were installed to take the water back into the sea relieving the pressure from beneath the platform and allowing the anchors to do their job.


A Modernist Icon Brought to Life

Using historical evidence to recapture the original look and feel

Jubilee Pool is iconic – the biggest open-air lido in the UK and an eye-catching Art Deco design. Our job was to maintain that image – and it paid off: the renovated pool has been featured in international press and consistently tops the lists of must-see travel destinations.

The design team used historical evidence and old photographs to create the initial plans, and worked closely with architects to make sure the refurbishments were in keeping with the original structure.

Changing rooms, toilets and internal buildings were rebuilt and decorated in the 1930s style.

Most of the pool complex needed resurfacing and Cormac’s specialist surfacing know-how came into play. Instead of screeding and painting the pool, our team decided to use a concrete that was coloured blue, saving on maintenance in the years to come. 

The area around the pool prior to the refurbishment was covered with paving slabs, but when they were removed, we found that the hard-standing was originally green painted concrete. We worked with the manufacturer of a recycled glass and resin porous surfacing material, to develop the original colour, which was named by the manufacturer as ‘Jubilee Pool Green’. The area around the pool was re-screeded and covered with this recycled resin and glass material, to create a resilient, self-draining, non-slip surface.


Making Penzance Proud

Creating a year-round community resource by harnessing geothermal energy

The completed pool is a major tourist attraction for Penzance, and it’s also used and loved by the local community year-round – partly thanks to its hot-springs-like geothermal pool. Our renovations have not just improved the look of the pool, but built in long-term resilience to provide a secure future for the pool. The project has transformed the lido to enable year-round opening, and providing a hub for the local community with a large café and multi-purpose seating space.

The Jubilee Pool has won numerous awards, including the Heritage Fund-sponsored Sustainable Project of the Year award in July 2021, being praised for ‘using some of the most ground-breaking sustainable practices in the sector’, the prestigious ICE People’s Choice award for the South West, and also the National People’s Choice award and the Concrete Society’s Small Projects award.

The pool also features on ‘must-visit destination’ lists in press all around the world. Partly thanks to the new pool, Penzance ranked 14 in the New York Times ‘52 Places to Go in 2017’, above the Great Barrier Reef, Athens and Madagascar.

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    Rock Anchors Securing Pool to Granite Bedrock

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    Million Pound Community Fundraising Campaign

  • The whole pool is gravity-fed with sea water – there’s only one pump. There are valves that enable the water to wash in and wash out. We replaced all the valves and found some large voids underneath the pool, which we filled with grout.

    Andrew Berryman

    Senior Contracts Manager, Cormac

  • "This has always been Penzance’s concrete beach and there’s a massive local affection for what it represents"

    Martin Nixon

    Chair of the Friends of Jubilee Pool

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Cormac began as a business with a remit to service all the civil engineering needs of Cornwall. As a consequence we have an extensive range of specialist skillsets, and can offer a true end-to-end service to our clients in Cornwall and beyond.

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