John C Miller (Macduff Burgh Surveyor), 1930-31 with minor later alterations. Art Deco tidal swimming pool, boating pool and paddling pool surrounded by curved walkways, with associated tea pavilion at head of boating pool and changing rooms and kiosks to side. Concrete pools and buildings.
BOATING POOL, SWIMMING POOL AND PADDLING POOL: D-plan boating pool bounded by 3 broad walkways swept round from tea pavilion at head of pool; shallow steps cut into walkways at regular intervals; ramp for boats to E of tea pavilion. Rectangular paddling pool with curved corners enclosing natural rocky outcrop within the boating pool and directly in front of tea pavilion. Rectangular swimming pool to N (sea side) of boating pool with changing rooms at W end; continuation of lower walkway divides boating pool from swimming pool; middle walkway continued round to E end of pool.
TEA PAVILION: single storey, break-fronted rectangular-plan, flat-roofed Art Deco tea pavilion with 3-bay colonnade between taller end pavilions; steps at outer bays leading to roof terrace; simple horizontal railings to roof. Later 2-bay addition to W. Doors and windows boarded up (2006).
CHANGING ROOMS: low, flat-roofed group of 4 linked blocks with slightly advanced outer bays. Strip windows at eaves level (boarded up, 2006).
KIOSKS AND FENCE: probably early 1950s. 2 1-bay, roughly squareplan kiosks at pool entrance. Curved concrete fence with perforated top extends towards tea pavilion.
Statement of Special Interest
A remarkably fine, little-altered and early example of an outdoor Art Deco swimming pool. It is one of only 3 known surviving sea-side outdoor swimming pool complexes in Scotland, and certainly the one that best retains its original appearance. The other examples are Stonehaven (see separate listing), which was never tidal and Gourock, which was originally tidal, but has since been altered. Simple tidal pools, such as those at St Andrews and Pittenweem are not included in this category.
The architect of Tarlair pool was John C Miller, the Burgh Surveyor for Macduff. The building of the pool was agreed by the Burgh Council in 1929, and the pool was opened in the summer of 1931. The contractor for the pool was Robert Morrison & Son of Macduff.
Although the buildings at Tarlair are relatively modest, the pool itself is impressive with the generous curved sides of the boating pool, and swimming pool beyond. The inclusion of a boating pool is particularly unusual; the only other known example was at Dunbar. It also seems to have been relatively unusual for a pool of this scale and level of stylishness to have been tidal. At high tide all parts of the pool are engulfed by the sea. The arrangement of the swimming pool situated to the sea-side the boating pool is practical, as it is obviously more hygienically desirable for the swimming pool to be fully replenished by the sea than the boating pool.
Tarlair pool is set in a spectacular location in a rocky bay to the East of Macduff, to which the design of the pool responds well. The pool has been disused since 1995 and is consequently not in a good state of repair, although it has received some maintenance. A small number of alterations and additions have taken place since it was built (most notably to the paddling pool, and the addition to the tea pavilion), but these alterations are of a superficial nature and its appearance has changed very little since it was photographed in 1935. Its state of intactness, simple yet stylish design, early date and magnificent location all contribute to make this pool the outstanding surviving example of its type in Scotland (2006).
In the 1920s and 30s recreational swimming became an increasingly popular pastime and more readily available to the public because of improved public transport and increased leisure time. Consequently a relatively large number of outdoor swimming pools were built in Scotland, especially at sea-side locations. Built between 1930 and 1931, the pool at Tarlair (see separate listing) is one of earliest examples of this sort of swimming pool. However competition was strong with outdoor pools appearing across Scotland, including Prestwick (1931) Portobello (1936), Stonehaven (1934), Arbroath (1935). The complex at Dunbar (began 1929) incorporated not only a swimming pool, boating pool and paddling pool, but also a ballroom in its main pavilion. Declining visitor numbers led to the closure and subsequent demolition of the majority of these pools.
List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).