GENERATIONS of Otley people have enjoyed outdoor paddling and swimming in the town - and a campaign group wants to give many more generations that chance.

The Friends of Otley Lido have ambitious plans for a modern all year round leisure venue and they are fundraising now. The support for their scheme shows just how important Otley's outdoor pool or "baths" has been to local people and how much interest there is in a new lido.

The pool opened in 1924 and was a major attraction for decades until it finally closed in 1993. The site has been left derelict ever since - but the Friends of Otley Lido have a vision to restore it to much more than its former glory. They are now raising the funds they need to pay for all the specialist studies required to take their project through to the planning phase - and they are appealing to the public to help them make their dream a reality.

These photographs from FoOL show how popular outdoor bathing has been in Otley over the decades.

The FoOl webside says: "In many ways the story of the baths is inextricably linked to the evolution of Britain during the 20th century.

"Post World War I there was shortage of housing in Britain and much of it was of poor quality and overcrowded. Otley Council instituted one of the first subsidised housing schemes in the country in 1920 - utilising land north of the river in Newall.

"Wharfemeadows park provided basic outdoor space and the River Wharfe a place to swim and have fun - if you so wished - at a time when properties were just beginning to be converted to a sewer drainage system!

"The baths - as it was known at the time - opened in Otley in 1924 and was widely used by the local community. It provided a leisure facility for the growing town and was substantially cleaner than the river!

"Given its rich history it shall come as no surprise that the baths left a lasting impression on people - both good and bad!"

The website says: "As Britain recovered from World War II - and subsequent rationing - the 1950s heralded the start of a 'mobility revolution' as mass motorisation transformed personal mobility. As a result more people could travel in their leisure time and the baths attracted many visitors to the town.

"In many ways, Otley baths heyday was in the 1960s. By that time the baths - or outdoor pool as it was increasingly being called - had transformed from a baths for residents of Otley to an outdoor pool for both the town and the wider community.

"Otley outdoor (swimming) pool closed in 1993. This was perhaps inevitable. Indoor pools had become the preferred option of the masses and many Local Authority lidos were closed. The explosion in the provision and availability of other leisure activities; the pool and the buildings being dated and requiring modernisation; and the increasing demands of health and safety weighed heavily on the Otley outdoor pool. However, lidos are now seeing a resurgence and many closed in the 1990s are now re-opening."

The group's vision is to build and operate a modern, all year round leisure venue featuring a heated lido with a retractable roof which would include a 25m to 30m pool, a smaller multi-purpose pool, a play area, a cafe and gym.

The group says its plans are ambitious but not unrealistic.

"Despite our name - we are no FoOLs! Lidos around the country are experiencing a magnificent resurgence and we want Otley to be part of that! Our project aims to return the baths to its heyday - albeit in a modern guise."