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An icon or an eyesore?

PUBLISHED: 15:48 04 December 2011

Tropicana view of pool and slides with 1980s Weston in the background.

Tropicana view of pool and slides with 1980s Weston in the background.


Nothing has divided opinion in Weston more than the Tropicana in recent years, and emotions are running high once again following this week’s recommendation for demolition.

Here, we look back at the Tropicana’s highs and lows before the site is consigned to the history books.

n July 1 1937 – the pool opened its doors to the public following a £60,000 project, giving Weston an outdoor swimming pool and iconic diving boards.

n 1947 – Hollywood film stars Laurel and Hardy were guest judges at the town’s Modern Venus beauty competition.

n 1982 – the attraction closes to the public for renovation after Woodspring District Council successfully applied for permission to demolish the then-listed diving boards.

n May 1983 – following a £1million redevelopment the Tropicana Pleasure Beach reopened to the public. The diving boards were replaced by a wave machine, fruit-shaped water chutes and a water heater. On its first day 7,500 visitors turned up, meaning many had to queue until 6pm.

n 1992 – North Somerset Council pulls out of sole running it and private owners take on responsibility for it.

n June 1997 – the Tropicana celebrated its 60th birthday with a spectacular party and fireworks display opened by comedian Eddie Large. Weston celebrities Jill Dando and Lord Archer sent birthday cards.

n 1999 – signs of strain emerge as it only opened for seven weeks during the summer and made a £16,000 loss.

n 2000 – North Somerset Council spent £70,000 ensuring it reached health and safety standards. But after just six weeks it closed again, recording a loss of £38,000 for the year. It would never open again.

n 2003 – a £23million investment bid by developers Mace is accepted by the council. An indoor pool, a cinema, health club, cafés, bars and restaurants are all proposed.

n November 2004 – Mace pulls out and the council appeals for new interested parties to come forward.

n April 2005 – North Somerset Council expresses wishes for a pool and shortlists several would-be developers. Weston businessman Richard Nightingale fails to make shortlist.

n July 2005 – Henry Boot’s £25million bid gets the green light from the council. The company expects to open its ‘Lifestation’ complex in October 2007.

n February 2006 – the project is delayed and it is announced that it will not open until autumn 2009 at the earliest.

n February 2008 – following nearly 20,000 objections over issues such as parking and size, a scaled back proposal involving a pool, hotel and bowling alley is resubmitted.

n October 2008 – North Somerset Council backs plans despite spiralling costs of an estimated £48million and opposition from English Heritage. Expected to open in 2011.

n November 2009 – Henry Boot pulls out of the Tropicana and the council admits there are no plans left on the table.

n January 2010 – Richard Nightingale unveils his £19million redevelopment blueprint, designed after ‘listening intently’ to the public.

n March 2011 – a ‘devastated’ Richard Nightingale pulls out after council rejects his plans, blaming ‘European legislation’.

n July 2011- Councillor Elfan Ap Rees tells the Mercury he thinks a pool is ‘undeliverable’.

n October 2011 – the Tropicana is marketed by the council once again. A budget cap of £3.5million is fixed to it.

n November 28 – behind closed doors, the council’s working party recommends demolition, costing an estimated £800,000. The matter will go before the executive committee on December 13.

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