Walpole Bay Tidal Pool


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, Cliftonville, Margate, Kent. CT9 3AB


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, Cliftonville, Margate, Kent. CT9 3AB
Thanet (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A tidal sea bathing pool built in 1937.

Reasons for Designation

Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, one of two tidal pools designed by Margate's borough engineer in 1937, constructed in concrete blocks reinforced by reused iron tram rails, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Structural engineering interest: an ambitious project because of its scale, the weight of each concrete block, and that work needing to be carried out day and night because of the tides; * Scale and design: impressive in scale and shape, occupying 4 acres and three sides of a rectangle, the sides 450 feet long diminishing towards the seaward end which was 300 feet long; * Social historical interest: provided an improvement to sea bathing at the period of the greatest popularity of the English seaside; * Degree of intactness: intact apart from the loss of the two diving boards which do not often survive; * Group value: situated quite near the remains of the 1824-6 Clifton Baths (Grade II), an 1935 lift and the other 1937 tidal pool.


Walpole Bay Tidal Pool was built in 1937, one of two tidal pools constructed at the same time in Margate, the other at Marine Terrace opposite Cliftonville Lido. Both were constructed in order to make it possible for large numbers of people to bathe in the sea at all states of the tide because, owing to the gradual slope of the beach and the considerable tidal range, low water mark at spring tides could be as far as 300 yards from the promenades.

This tidal pool was designed by E A Borg, Borough Engineer of Margate but executed with modifications under his successor W L Armstrong using direct labour. It enclosed the foreshore with two side walls and an end wall on the seaward side with the natural chalk beach used as the floor of the pool, the slope giving a maximum depth at the seaward end of 6 feet 6 inches. The walls were built of interlocking concrete blocks, each about one ton in weight, with old tram rails concreted into the walls at intervals of 12ft, fixed in position by hand cranes. The work was carried out day and night to take advantage of every tide because at Walpole Bay it was never possible to work on the outer wall more than a few spring tides each month, as the neap tides never leave this position.

The pool covers over four acres and its dimensions are 450ft long, 300ft wide at the seaward end and 550ft long at the landward end. It cost circa £7,000. The top level of the wall was arranged so that the pool was completely submerged at every tide, ensuring a sufficient change-over of sea water twice a day. Fresh water springs rise from the beach within the walls providing fresh water from the floor of the pool. Originally two diving boards were provided.


A tidal sea bathing pool built in 1937. Designed by E A Borg, Borough Engineer but constructed with modifications by his successor W L Armstrong using direct labour.

MATERIALS: built of interlocking concrete blocks with old iron tram rails concreted in at intervals of 12ft.

PLAN: three sides of a rectangle, longer at the landward side where there is no wall. There is a break near the landward side of the western wall. The dimensions are 450ft at the sides, 300ft at the seaward side and 550ft at the landward end.

DESCRIPTION: built of interlocking concrete block walls with concealed iron tram rails running about 5ft deep into the chalk foundation and up to within one foot of the top of the wall. The wall is two or three feet wide, about two or three feet deep at the landward side but increases in depth towards the seaward end to enclose a pool about seven feet high at this end. There are two-foot wide overflows in the top course six inches below the top of the wall so the top water line is always six inches below the top. There are four flights of steps with iron handrails and three penstocks are fitted in the outer walls in order to empty the pool, which took about two hours.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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