Frequently Asked Questions
Booking a swim
Can I swim without booking in advance? You can turn up to swim and pay at the kiosk, but if the session is full, we won't be able to sell you a ticket. If you can't use the online booking system, you can book sessions in advance at the kiosk too.
Can I use someone else’s booking? No, bookings can’t be transferred.
Can I use someone else’s booking? No, bookings can’t be transferred.
How does the Class Pass work? Our Class Pass allows you to pay for 10, 15, 30, 60 or 100 swim sessions at a discounted price. You pay for a Class Pass when you book the first swim; the next time you book, the cost of that swim will be deducted from your pass until it’s used up. Please note that any unused swims at the end of the season aren’t refundable. If you book a swim using the Class Pass, you can change the session up to three days before, but if you don’t turn up to swim, we won’t refund you.
When do you release booking slots? Pells is very popular, particularly in the school holidays, so we open up bookings for the following 14 days every Thursday. This is to give as many people as possible the chance to enjoy the pool.
I booked a swim but now I can’t make it – what are my options? You can change a session up to 24 hours in advance – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. After that, if you’re not going to be able to make it, please email us to let us know. We won’t refund you, but the slot can be offered to someone else and the money you paid for your session will be donated to the Pells (we’re a charity, so the money will go to a very good cause!).
How can I find out if slots have become available for a session that was previously fully-booked? The best way is to check the night before by going into the booking system – you’ll see if the session is fully-booked or not – the number of available slots will be shown.
I have a carer, do they have to pay? Carers can, of course, accompany people to the Pells but please book them into the session at the concessionary rate.
How long can I stay? You’re welcome to stay for the whole of your booked session. The open sessions, in particular, allow you to spend three hours enjoying the pool and the other facilities.
What’s the latest I can come into a session? We won’t allow people in if there’s less than 20 minutes left in a session. We need this time to get ready for the next session.
How many people are allowed per session? Lane swimming sessions are usually limited to 60 people and open sessions are usually limited to 175 people. We sometimes have to limit numbers further, usually for safety reasons. In these cases, we’ll make the decision in advance, and release fewer slots for the session. During open sessions, we may ask people not to enter the pool at particularly busy times, usually for 10-15 minutes, so we can keep everybody safe.
How many lanes will be available for lap swimming? We have five wide lanes available during the lane swimming sessions, ranging from slow to fast. Signs at the shallow end of each lane will show you the speed of swimmers and whether you should swim in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Please choose the most appropriate lane based on how fast you’re going to be swimming and respect other swimmers; pause at the end of the pool to let them a faster swimmer pass, and give slower swimmers a wide berth – there’s plenty of overtaking space in each lane. We have one lane available for lap swimming during open sessions, which is for swimmers of all speeds.
Where can I get changed? We have male and female changing facilities at the far end of the pool, and you’re welcome to change on the sun terrace or the lawn. We also have accessible facilities next to the kiosk. We don’t have secure lockers; swimmers leave their belongings at the side of the pool or on the lawn. We haven’t had an issue with things being stolen but we can’t accept responsibility if this happens.
What about toilets and showers? We have male and female toilets and an accessible toilet, next to the kiosk. There are five poolside showers – four warm and one cold. Please shower before entering the pool – every time.
Can I wear a wetsuit? Yes, you can wear a wetsuit all through the season (in fact, it’s a good idea to wear one when the water’s really cold). Please shower before you enter the pool, even if you’re wearing a wetsuit.
Can I use fins or a snorkel? Fins and snorkels aren’t allowed for safety reasons. Small hand paddles for training are allowed.
Can we bring inflatables? Inflatables are allowed in the open sessions but we may ask you not to use them during the busiest times.
I’m bringing children with me, do I have to swim with them? We love having children at the Pells and to make sure everyone is safe, we have a few rules: Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult (16+) but can swim on their own Children under eight must be accompanied by an adult in the water, at all times One adult can bring two children aged between four and eight, or one child three years old or younger Children under five swim for free but you still need to book them a space. Adults accompanying children must buy a ticket, even if they don’t plan to swim. The water in the Pells is always quite cool, so make sure you bring plenty of warm towels and clothes to wrap children in after their swim.
Do you ever cancel a session due to bad weather? Sessions always go ahead, regardless of the weather, although we reserve the right to cancel sessions, or change the start and finish times if there's lightning within 10km of the pool. In these situations, we’ll clear the pool and you’ll only be allowed back in 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder. We don’t cancel sessions if the weather forecast says there’ll be thunderstorms; we’ll make a decision as and when it’s necessary. This means a session may start later, or end early, if a storm comes close. We’ll consider refunds if this happens.
Cancellations due to water quality We keep a very careful eye on water quality, but it can deteriorate in hot weather, when we have lots of swimmers and on sunny days, when people wear suncream. If the water becomes too cloudy, it’s still safe to swim in, but it makes it difficult for our lifeguards too see people underwater. When this happens, we may have to ‘shock treat’ the pool water with chemicals, which means we’ll have to shut the pool for a day or two. We’ll refund swimmers if this happens.
You can really help us maintain water quality by showering before you enter the pool, using one of our five lovely poolside showers!
When’s the kiosk open? We aim to have the kiosk open every session. However, sometimes we may have to close it early, if staff are needed poolside.
What do you sell at the kiosk? We sell hot and cold drinks, snacks and ice creams, as well as things like swim hats and goggles, and Pells merchandise. We don’t sell swimsuits or trunks though.
Can we bring our own food and drink? You’re welcome to bring your own food and drink and have a picnic. We don’t allow barbecues and we don’t allow alcohol. Please tidy up after yourselves (there are plenty of bins), so everyone can enjoy the open space.
Can I take photographs? We have a long-standing ‘no photography’ rule, to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable when at the Pells. Please respect this rule – staff will remind users, if they see anyone taking photos.
Can I bring my dog? Sorry, but we don’t allow pets anywhere in the Pells area.
Is the pool available for private hire? The pool is occasionally available for private hire on occasions (outside of the normal session times). Please email us at email@example.com to check availability and for more information.
Getting to the Pells
Where’s the Pells Pool? We’re on the north side of the historic county town of Lewes, in East Sussex. Visit the 'How to find us' section below to find out how where we are. The best way to get to the Pells is by public transport, on foot or by bicycle.
Have you got a car park? There’s no car park at the Pells. The closest parking is at the two car parks at Spring Gardens and Brook Street - just off North Street. Both are long stay and it costs £1.90 to park all day. Charges apply Monday to Sat, 9am to 5pm. There are disabled parking bays in the nearby streets but we can’t guarantee you’ll get a space. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re a blue badge holder.
Can I park my bike safely? Yes, we have a bike rack next to the lawn; please don’t ride your bike inside the pool area.
How to find us
The Pells Pool is on Brook Street, Lewes, BN7 2BA
The pool is on the north side of the town, next to the Pells Pond at the bottom of St John's Hill, at the junction of Brook Street, just north of St John sub Castro church. The pool is south of Wiley's Bridge - the footbridge over the River Ouse.
If you're coming by public transport
By train: Turn right out of the main entrance. Go up Station Street (past the Lansdown pub), across the lights at the top and into Fisher Street. At the far end of Fisher Street, turn left down White Hill/Offham Road. At the Elephant and Castle Pub, turn right, and head down St John's Terrace. Keep going and you'll see the pool just by the Pells Pond at the bottom of St John's Hill. It's about a 10-15 minute walk.
By bus: From Brighton, take a 28 or a 29 bus which starts from Churchill Square. Get off by the Law Courts and walk down to the lights and turn left at Ask Italian, into Fisher Street, then follow the directions above.
From Tunbridge Wells or Uckfield, get off at Waitrose and walk to the traffic lights (Boots the chemist is on your left). Turn left and walk up School Hill to the traffic lights, and turn right into Fisher Street, then follow the directions above.
Alternatively, if you're familiar with Lewes, from Waitrose, walk towards Eastgate Church and cross the road at the pedestrian crossings. Go down Green Lanes, up Wellington Street and turn right on North Street, past Gorringes. Turn left down Spring Gardens and Pells Pool is on your right, just behind the Pells recreation ground.
By car: There’s no car park at the Pells. The closest parking is at the two car parks at Spring Gardens and Brook Street - just off North Street. Both are long stay and cost £1.90 to park all day. Charges apply Monday to Sat, 9am to 5pm.
By bicycle: You’re welcome to bring your bicycle into the Pells, we have secure bike parking facilities next to the lawn area (bring your own lock).
Cold water swimming advice
The Pells Pool is fed by a spring and is only heated by the sun, which means it can get quite cool, particularly at the start of our season in May and towards the end of the season in late October.
If the water temperature drops below 15°C we won’t allow children to swim in the pool and we’ll close the paddling pool.
If you’re used to swimming in open water, then this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’re not, it’s worth considering:
Getting into the pool gradually, using the steps or ramp – don’t dive in
Wearing a wetsuit (these can be worn whatever the water temperature)
Wearing a swim hat, swim gloves and swim socks
Limiting your swim (at least for the first few times) to 15 minutes.
Remember: you may not notice your body cooling down and, oddly, might feel quite warm when you’re swimming – this is a sign to get out of the water.
Check our social media for daily updates the water temperature and please ask the pool staff if you have any questions or concerns.