1930s LIDOS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM - outside London*
Compiled by Oliver Merrington,
who lives at Waterbeach, nr Cambridge, UK.
Go to the www.lidos.org.uk homepage
The purpose of this webpage is to provide a historical background to those each lido built in the 1930s, or earlier, which is still in use - and, as a bonus, to provide enough detail on these pools for potential visitors, either swimmers or others. Opening times and especially opening/closing dates, are liable to change from year to year.
into your email program if you are able to supply further information on any lido still open, but please refer to my ">A-Z index on my Homepage first,
*See my other webpages on
See also my webpage of Links and References.
For a detailed history of lidos in Britain, see Janet Smith's book.
INDEX to LIDOS and OPEN AIR POOLS OUTSIDE LONDON on this webpage
Guildford Road, Aldershot, Hampshire GU12 4BP
Tel: 01252 323482 or 313706
The Aldershot Lido was reputed to be "the largest and finest open-air bathing pool in the country". Opened in the spring of 1930, it contained one and a half million gallons of water and covered some 10 acres of leisure area.
The site of the Lido was originally a lake which was situated close to an old house in the Aldershot Park Estate. The Council purchased the estate in 1920 for £21,000. The lake, which had deteriorated since the 1880s, was described as a "fine sheet of water" - it had become overgrown with weeds, the banks had crumbled and it was overhung with trees. The Borough Council decided to convert it into a bathing pool and this was one of the council's major improvement projects of the 1920s. The old house was demolished, the lake was drained, considerable excavations were made, and the pool connected with the necessary filtering plant, dressing rooms and other amenities, including the pleasant lawns and terraces around the pool, at a cost of nearly £20,000. In 1948 the pool hosted the Modern Pentathlon of the XIV Olympiad.
It is now run by Rushmoor Borough Council. As you can see the pool is
huge, with extensive shallows for children to play in, a diving area and
exciting water slides. There is an adjoining main 25m indoor pool, an
additional teaching pool, plus a 24,000 sq ft gym.
The Lido is open 10.00am - 7pm, May to September - though off season it is used by a canoe club.
Photographs: Rushmoor Borough Council
Website: via Rushmoor Borough Council
Aylesbury: Aqua Vale Swimming and Fitness Centre
Vale Park, Park Street, Aylesbury, Bucks HP20 1DS
Tel: 01296 488555
A 20m Outdoor swimming pool, linked directly to a new indoor pool
re-opened in November 2001. Open all the year round.
The outdoor pool is probably all new, but built on the same site as the one which opened in 1935.
Banbury: Woodgreen Lido [reopened in 2009]
Woodgreen Leisure Centre, Woodgreen Avenue, Banbury, Oxfordshire
Tel: 01295 262742
This Olympic-length 50m heated outdoor swimming pool is owned by Cherwell District Council and once had flumes, slides and diving boards. There is an adjacent 1994 indoor pool, in the Leisure Centre.
Opened on 23 May 1939; £7,900 was raised for building the pool, buildings and a complete layout. With its capacity of 356,000 gallons, the new 1939 pool, together with its surrounding complex, involved 23 contractors and sub contractors, using firms such as the London Brick Company and regional bodies such as Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire Power Company.
In 1999 to mark the 60th birthday of the Banbury Open Air Pool, a record turnout of nearly 1500 people visited over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Derrick Knight writes:
"Since April 2005 a tough campaign developed to save the pool led by the Open Air Pool Support Group had a long established 'friends of the pool' role raising money for equipment and extras for the its various managements. But in April 2005 the rumour spread that Cherwell District Council was about to vote to close the pool and use it for housing. A 10,000 name petition was quickly collected and a demo of of some 300 people outside the a key council meeting frightened the CDC into postponing a decision and re-opening a debate. A month later a well attended public meeting faced a panel of councillors and leisure officers and gave them hell. At that time the leader declared that the pool would be closed. 'That was politics' he said."
2008: Cherwell District Council agreed a contract for a refurbishment project to cost £1.4 million. Banbury Town Council will contribute £50,000 a year to help with the running costs. Parkwood Community Leisure, which operates other Leisure Centre on behalf of Cherwell District Council, will take over the operation of Woodgreen Leisure Centre in 2009. This will see the Woodgreen lido repaired and back in action in time for summer 2009.
Derrick Knight writes (December 2008):
"The builders are already on site. The contractors are Leadbitter Construction of Abingdon. Their brief means that the old diving hole at the deep end will be filled in and the depths reduced a little in the interests of heating water costs. The new pool will have a traditional tile finish and a new children's wet play area is to be created. The old 55 yard length will be tweaked to make it an exact 50 metres. All the machinery for water circulation and heating will be repaired or replaced."
via Cherwell District Council
Bourne Outdoor Swimming Pool
Abbey Lawns, Bourne, Lincolnshire PE10 9EP
Tel. 01778 422063
There are two pools, one a paddling pool for the toddlers and the main pool which is 48m long and 12m wide. Open from May to September (weather permitting) and is heated to about 26°C
Formally the Monks fish pond for Bourne Abbey, it was converted into a swimming bath after the 1914~18 war by keen local swimmers. In 1932 Bourne United Charities obtained both the Monks garden and the Abbey Lawn and modernised the pool. During 1971 Bourne Round Table raised money to pay for a heating system for the pool. The Outdoor Pool Preservation Trust was formed in 1990 and now runs the near Olympic-size heated swimming pool, toddler pool, sand pit and play house. There are indoor changing rooms with toilet facilities, extended lawns with seating including picnic tables, attractive gardens with hanging baskets, extended refreshment area, sweet and snack shop and barbecues for hire.
Photo: Outdoor Pool Preservation Trust
Rex Needle's website
or via Lincolnshire County Council
Brightlingsea Open Air Pool
Promenade Way, Brightlingsea, Colchester, Essex CO7 0HH
Tel : 01206 303067
Originally built in 1933, it comprises two pools, a 15m paddling pool and a 50m main pool. It is extremely popular with local residents and holidaymakers alike. The season runs from the end of May through to the beginning of September and Season Tickets are available.
"Next to the boating lake is the open air swimming pool. Once a salt water pool, this is now a two level freshwater facility. Parents can safely leave young children in the shallow paddling pool, while the more experienced swimmer can enjoy the deeper waters of the main pool".
Website: via Tendring District Council
Brighton: Saltdean Lido [Closed during 2014]
Saltdean Park Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 8SP
Photograph © Oliver Merrington
Gavin Hadland writes: "This is a real children's pool, complete with slides, sandpits, a climbing frame and a baby pool. Floats are provided for fun and frolics and, at weekends, there's a bouncy castle. The 40-metre pool is good for swimming, but stretching out on sun-loungers on the balconies seems the most popular activity here". The pool itself measures 140ft by 66ft and can accommodate 500 bathers, and is now run by Shape Health Studios.
2 May 1997: "With the approval by the Brighton and Hove council's planning committee, one of the finest Art Deco buildings in Britain is scheduled for restoration. The 1.5 million pound project will restore and extend Saltdean Lido. According to Mark Bunting, a Sussex University student in psychology, who put together the salvage plan with financial backing from South Coast businessmen, "This will be the first public Art Deco building to be reconstructed. Until now it has been a dreadful waste of what was a beautiful building. Now we will have a haven where families can relax in the sun instead of a bomb site."
The lido was built 1937-38 to designs by the architect Richard Jones, and was hailed as the most innovative design of its type in Britain. With its tea terrace, sun deck, caf, perched on the flat roof and distinctive curved wings at either end, it became the only lido to be featured in the Design Museum in London. Only a few lidos across Britain remain in use. Jill Sack, of the 20th Century Society, said it was a disgrace that Saltdean had been left to rot. "We have followed the fortunes of Saltdean closely because it is a classic example of Art Deco architecture and a building of great historical value," she said. "We have lost so many lidos and this is one of the very best. It is vital it is restored." (With thanks to Douglas d'Enno and an article in The Times by Robin Young.)
26 May 1998: The re-opening of Saltdean Lido by Sports Minister Tony
"The Labour MP took time out to toast the 60-year-old Art Deco swimming pool, which was saved from ruin by a pioneering public and private sector partnership costing £2 million. Mr Banks revealed he had a personal link to the Grade II listed building through his mother, who used to visit it during the Second World War. He said: "Open air sites are not able to attract National Lottery funding, so the money for this had to come through private investors having the vision to bring a piece of our heritage back into use." The reopening ceremony came two days after the lido let in its first visitors for three years. Co-owner Cliff Collins said: "We had about 270 visitors on Saturday, and 400 on Sunday." Brighton and Hove Mayor Francis Tonks welcomed the revamped lido and said it meant his children would no longer have to swim in the sea. He said he did not like the idea of his grandchildren swimming just a few miles from where sewage was being pumped into the sea."
One of Tom Dyckhoff's Ten Best Lidos (The Times, 5 August 2003) and and one of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent, 17 July 2002)
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 146-151; and Douglas d'Enno's The Saltdean Story
The Save Saltdean Lido Campaign was set up in March 2010 by local residents after plans were announced to fill in the swimming pool, develop the site extensively, and create 102 flats.
In May 2012 Brighton and Hove City Council negotiated an agreement with the leaseholder and will take back ownership of the lease. The pool itself remains closed for the time being. "After careful assessment of the repairs needed at the Saltdean Lido to get the pool operational, it is not going to be possible to open the pool this summer . The library and community centre on the site will remain open as normal."
Save Saltdeal Lido Campaign
74simon, Saltdean Lido
Brynamman Swimming Pool, Dyfed, Wales
Pwll Nofia Awyr Agored yr Brynamman
off Station Rd, Brynamman, Ammanford Dyfed SA18 1SF
Unheated 27m outdoor pool, built in the 1920s. Open May to September
Bob and Dave visited on 23rd August 2008: "Arriving at 1pm we found that Dave had already managed to get friendly with the locals. Jackie, Cassie and Matt were looking after the pool, which did not appear to be heated. We received a lovely warm Welsh welcome and spent a delightful hour at the pool swimming our mile and chatting to our hosts. We had now completed our 99th pool."
Francis Frith has a photograph taken in 1955
BBC News item (2004)
Website: via Carmarthenshire County Council / Sir Gâr - (none found)
Buckfastleigh Swimming Pool
Victoria Park, Plymouth Rd, Buckfastleigh, Devon, TQ11 0DB
Tel: 01364 642222
Ian Gordon writes:
It was originally built sometime between 1906 and 1911. When I visited a few years ago it looked about 20-25 yards long and had been modernised in the 1960s or 70s with railings round and an open sheltered area on the roadside".
(In 2005 it was open from June until September).
Photo: Teignbridge District Council
Website: via Teignbridge District Council
Cambridge: Jesus Green Pool
By the River Cam (south side), Chesterton Road, Cambridge
During the summer season, it is open daily.
Tel: 01223 302579.
Opened in 1923, Jesus Green Pool is one of the longest outdoor pools in Europe with a length of 100 yards (around 90 metres) and 15 yards wide, with timber buildings from the 1960s. It is located right beside the River Cam. It has wooden seats on one side of the pool and grass on the other. At one end there's a sloping paved area for sunbathers, with a shady bank the other end for mothers with small children. Many people come just to read in the peace and quiet, and do a few lengths by and by. It is surrounded by mature trees which act as a natural windbreak and enhance the very special atmosphere of this unique pool. Outside the pool there is a children's play area, with tennis courts and bowling green. Pick up a newsletter from The Friends of Jesus Green Pool.
Photo: © cambridge2000.com taken by Wayne Boucher
"This is where I used to swim, almost every day in summer, and how I became interested in lidos. I still have many friends who use the pool regularly - the atmosphere on quiet days is wonderful."
Roger Deakin writes: "At Cambridge, beside the Cam at Jesus Green is another quiet lido: a pool that seems to run to infinity bordered by a row of tall limes you can gaze into as you swim".
One of Tom Dyckhoff's Ten Best Lidos (The Times 5 August 2003)
and one of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002).
Press report from 1923 of the pool opening.
Plan of Midsummer Common showing the location of the pool.
www.jesusgreenoutdoorpool.co.uk no longer works;
or via Cambridge City Council
Much earlier, in 1863, The Roman Bath Company opened ornate premises in Jesus Lane, Cambridge. The indoor bath was 56 feet by 22 feet, with water at 62 deg F. It wasn't successful and was leased to the Pitt Club by the end of 1863. The ground floor is now a Pizza Express restaurant.
Some years ago the
students used to swim in the
River Cam, near Lammas Land.
Look at for the remains of
a little stone pavilion
photo: © University of Cambridge
Roger Deakin writes: "One hundred yards downstream were the Men's Bathing Sheds, birthplace and headquarters of the Granta Swimming Club (1934). "They are still there, but padlocked and abandoned, beside the iron footbridge built over the river in 1910. The University swimming team swam from here in the river upstream towards Grantchester Meadows."
Originally four Cambridge colleges had their own cold baths: Peterhouse, Pembroke, Emmanuel and Christ's. One of these is still in use, probably oldest outdoor swimming-bath in the country is in Emmanuel College Fellows' Garden (not open to the public).
"The little pool in the corner beyond the Plane Tree may have been used for swimming in 1690 or even earlier. A changing hut in Classical style was built about 1745, the present thatched hut dating from the mid-19th century. In 1745 a 'plunge' was regarded as good for a headache, and 'against the vapours and impotence'. In living memory the water in the pool was dark green with algae, so dark that a Fellow who liked to swim the whole length along the bottom complained that he lost his way: a line was obligingly painted for him, and is known as Jones's Line. Today the water is purified and circulated, after a regular bacteria count, and is used by college Fellows."
The pool, as seen today, dates from around 1855.
For a photograph see Janet Smith's book, page 11.
Chagford Swimming Pool, Dartmoor
Chagford, Devon TQ13 8DA
Tel: 01647 432929 (May to September)
Built in 1933, this is the largest river-fed outdoor swimming pool in Devon. The 36m x 16m pool is run and maintained by volunteers. This freshwater pool is open in the afternoons from May to September, with lane swimming most evenings and some lunchtimes.
In 1998 the pool had a major £120,000 refurbishment, adding a new paddling pool, a terrace overlooking the river and sunbathing areas. In 2000 they renovated the pool, plant and poolside at a cost of about £180,000
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, p.165
photo: Dartmoor National Park
Website: Chagford Swimming Pool
Cheltenham: Sandford Parks Lido
Keynsham Road, Cheltenham GL53 7PU
Tel: 01242 262626
Built in 1935, Sandford Parks Lido retains all its original features. From May to October it is open every day with some early-morning sessions. A magnificent 50m heated outdoor pool, children's pool, playground, poolside cafe - all set in 4 acres of beautiful grounds.
Gavin Hadland writes: "Set in a four-acre site, Sandford Parks Lido is a beautiful pool and the grounds are tranquil and well-maintained. Visitors can play volleyball and table tennis if they don't fancy a dip". Roger Deakin writes about "the formality of Cheltenham's Sandford Lido, with its white-colonnaded classical pool, fountain and gardens". See the plan of Sandford Park Lido
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 1, 90-91 and 175.
One of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002)
Photo: Sandford Lido Limited
Cirencester Open Air Swimming Pool
Riverside Walk, Thomas Street, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Tel: 01285 653947 (Cotswold Leisure Centre)
This 1870 pool is one of the oldest outdoor swimming pools in the country and is still fed by natural water from a nearby well.
Open daily from May to September. 27m heated pool (1.8m deep) with large paddling pool, "Tuck shop" and hot showers. Set in beautiful surroundings next to Cirencester Park.
Roger Deakin writes: "the homely simplicity of the charming miniature heated open-air lido at Cirencester, which dates back to 1870 and has been heated since 1931. It was successfully taken over as a community enterprise when the passionate local swimmers refused to see it closed down by the council nearly thirty years ago. You enter by a little footbridge across the river by a castle wall and there are lawns a view of grazing cattle, and a bright Mediterranean blue tuckshop serving Bovril and hot chocolate".
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, p.160
Photo: Cotswold District Council
or via Cotswold District Council
Clyst Hydon Swimming Pool, near Exeter
Clyst Hydon, near Exeter, Devon EX15 2NT
(situated between the Village Hall and Five Bells Pub)
The pool was made by the creation of a dam in 1913 across a small stream which flows into the river Clyst between Clyst Hydon and Clyst St Lawrence between Village Hall and the Five Bells Inn. Water quality was not a priority but the water kept 'clean' by natural replenishment as water flowed out. It subsequently became silted and overgrown. In the early 1950s a committee was formed to rejuvenate the pool and The Clyst Hydon and District Swimming Club was created. The stoned sides were plastered, the floor concreted and a water filter was installed.
In April 2001 the stream was re-piped in a larger pipe, so that in times of flood the pool will not be threatened. A new concrete floor was also laid to create a watertight pool.
Councillor Derek Button wrote (2003):
"I believe that CH Swimming Pool opened this year and, as far as I am aware, intends to do so again next year".
Website with photographs: Clyst Hydon Swimming Club (not updated since 2005)
Droitwich Spa Lido [re-opened June 2007]
Lido Park, Worcester Road, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire WR9 8AA
Tel: 01905 799342
This 132 by 66 ft heated salt-water (brine) lido, first built in 1935, was refurbished in 2006-07 at a cost of £1.5 million. It had been closed from 2000 to 2007. It now has depth ranging from 1 metre at the plant room end to 1.5 metres at about halfway (which extends for a flat distance of 2 metres) and then back through to 1 metre near to a newly created "beach" or wet play area. There is therefore a 26.5m length at 1+ metre depth for adult swimmers.
Photo: Wychavon District Council
"The Droitwich Sea Bathing Lido was opened on 10 June 1935, offering ‘the exhilaration of open-air bathing with bathroom comfort’. An extension of the existing spa facilities in the town, the salt water Lido was seen as part of an investment programme intended to offset the effects of the depression. The Lido capitalised on Droitwich’s reserves of natural rock salt - the other principal industry of the town. Its ‘Mediterranean’ character was remarked on in press reports of the period.
It had been thought that the design of the Lido was the work of the landscape architect Thomas H. Mawson (1861-1933), a figure rooted in the Arts and Crafts tradition, using the fashionable modernistic
manner for the Lido buildings. The main block is a sharply detailed pavilion featuring original metal windows. However, discussion with Chris Mawson (T.H. Mawson's great grandson) has concluded that Droitwich Lido was probably designed by his son, E. P. (Edward Prentice) Mawson - who also designed
Durnsford Road Open Air Pool in London - as he had a history of pool design and the specialist engineering knowledge. The original diving board, sadly demolished in later years to meet Health and Safety standards, was a dynamic design executed in reinforced concrete."
from a Twentieth Century Society report.
The first Brine Baths in Droitwich were built in the 1830s. St Richard's House, now home to the town's Heritage Centre, was once the entrance to St Andrew's Brine Baths. In 1985 new Brine Baths were opened and was the first new spa building to be built in Britain in the 20th century. See The Healing Baths of Droitwich Spa by Cora Weaver, ISBN 0953671100.
The Lido closed its doors at the end of the 2000 season, but Wychavon District Council reopened the lido in June 2007, the result of a long-fought campaign by a number of individuals and local organisations.
The year after closure, in 2001 Wychavon District Council considered forming a partnership to transform the lido into a multi-million pound spa complex, this was later rejected. SALT (Save a Lido Today) was formed in 2001. The Twentieth Century Society and others assisted them. An application for the lido to be listed was refused in February 2002.
The lido as it was, in 2003 © Bill Watkins
BBC News reported in April 2004 that the Wychavon District Council were working with local organisations and Droitwich Town Council to save the lido. In May 2005 SALT organised a Parish Poll on the future of the Lido. Nearly a quarter of the electorate voted on the town's unique lido. The result was unquestionably in favour of restoring the lido to its former splendour and making it fully operational. Out of a turnout of 4,014 voters, 3,899 wanted to see Droitwich Lido restored and reopened. Two months later "The Friends of Droitwich Spa Lido and its Park", a heritage group, was set up to protect the Park, as well as the pool.
In October 2005 Wychavon District Council and Wychavon Leisure made new proposals for the site, featuring the rectangular pool of the original size of dilute brine water, with a walk-in beach sloping area, and a wet play area with fountains and water cannons alongside. Another free smaller children's wet play area would be constructed outside the pool in the park. Following a short formal consultation period a presentation was made to the WDC Executive Board on 1 November 2005, and soon after the Council went ahead with their £1.5 million proposals. The 1930s conical aerator (an iron pipe encased in sloping concrete and cobbles) was removed.
The new lido now has a redeveloped reception building, with a cafe which caters for both lido and park users, fully refitted changing rooms with new cubicles and lockers, new pipework and pool filters in the plant room, landscaped pathways and borders outside the lido, and an extra 38 car parking spaces with ample disabled spaces.
For more on the history of this lido prior to re-opening, see Janet Smith's book, p. 167; "Droitwich Sea Bathing Lido, 1935-2005" by Ian Wild, 12pp., and the SALT website (see below)
Gillingham: Strand Leisure Pool
Strand Leisure Park, Pier Road, Gillingham, Kent
Tel: 01634 573176
The Strand Baths on the River Medway were built in 1894 by Mr Cucknow, a baker. The pool is 274 ft long and 138ft wide. It was opened on 27 June 1896. Before that there was just a hole in the mudflats, with old railway carriages.
"It has recently been refurbished, providing lane fountains, slides and a river-ride".
Website: via Medway Council
Gourock Outdoor Pool
Albert Road, Gourock, Inverclyde, Scotland PA19 1ND
Tel: 01475 631561
This heated outdoor sea-water swimming pool
was opened in 1909. It is on the A770 coast road 45km
from central Glasgow. 1950s-style leisure, with gym, children’s pool.
"Heated, so it doesn't need to be a scorcher (brilliant, but
choc-a-block when it is.)"
Run by Inverclyde Leisure.
See this Wikipedia photograph.
via Inverclyde Council
Guildford: The Lido
Stoke Park Guildford, Surrey GU1 1HB
Tel: 01483 449108
The Lido opened in 1933. Open from the end of April to the middle of September every day. Has been described as an oasis in the heart of Guildford - the 50 metre pool and landscaped gardens retaining much of their 1930s charm. The weather shouldn't be a deterrent as the water is heated to a minimum of 74 F/23 C, so even in a traditional British summer you can take the plunge and enjoy a swim in the beautifully clean water; paddling pools and water slides provide additional entertainment. Situated in Stoke Park, next to Guildford College, the lido has free parking.
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 20 and 82-83.
In February 2014 the Lido started fortnightly cold water swimming sessions, on Saturdays from 9am to 11am. Dates are 22 February, 8th and 22nd March, 5th and 19th April. They are advising people to wear a wetsuit.
One of Tom Dyckhoff's Ten Best Lidos (The Times 5 August 2003).
Photograph: © Guildford Borough Council
Websites: via Guildford Spectrum
or Guildford Borough Council
Hathersage Open Air Heated Swimming Pool
Oddfellows Road, Hathersage, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S32 1DU
Tel: 01433 650843
Photograph: © Pete Jones
Hathersage Pool, the only public lido in Derbyshire, is a 30 by 10 metre heated open air pool situated opposite the village car park. Opened in 1936, the pool retains its original veranda, lawns and bandstand and has recently acquired some new changing facilities.The water is heated to a comfortable 84° F / 29° C. It is open from April to September.
Pete Jones writes (October 2007):
"The second phase of the changing room re-building is now under way, and should be completed for next season, so we will have new changing facilities at both ends of the pool."
2009: Refurbished toilets, changing cubicles, hot showers and disabled access toilet.
See also Janet Smith's book, page 163.
Website: Hathersage Swimming Pool
Hilsea Lido [closed in 2008, may reopen soon]
London Road, Hilsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO2 9RP
Tel. 023 9266 2440
Outdoor unheated pool, 67m long and 18m wide (and 4m deep in the middle) opened in 1935, with adjacent children's paddling pool.
Jane Smith writes:
"Hilsea Lido is a large pleasure park in the north-west corner of Portsea Island which was constructed during the 1930s when the Ministry of Defence sold the Hilsea Lines to the City of Portsmouth. The swimming pool complex, also known as Hilsea Lido and consisting of an adult swimming pool, a café and children’s pool, was designed in 1933/4 by Joseph Parkin, the City Engineer. It was constructed in 1935 by Bolton and Lakin Ltd, a firm from Birmingham who had constructed other Lidos. It was officially opened on 24 July 1935 by the Lord Mayor."
The Lido is situated in the far north west of Portsea island, on the northern side of Hilsea Lines, a series of 18th-19th century fortifications built to protect Portsmouth, now a scheduled Ancient Monument and nature reserve. Hilsea Lido was turned down for listing in 1994 as it was considered not to be 'of comparable architectural quality'.
There is additional information on two Twentieth Century Society webpages:
Hilsea Lido and Casework report
The former says:
"The Council seems to be sticking to the line ... that if the proposed nearby Olympic-sized swimming pool receive the go-ahead, Hilsea Lido would become redundant.(January 2006)"
In 2001 due to Health and Safety concerns brought about by the age and depth of the main pool, Portsmouth City Council decided not to open Hilsea Lido for the summer season, however it reopened in 2002.
2005: Portsmouth City Council to decide whether or not to back a new improved £20m Mountbatten Centre. Part of the deal in getting £5m of funding for the new Centre will be for them to dispose of Hilsea Lido.
In October 2005 they issued a Press Release which said:
"The [redevelopment of the Mountbatten Centre, including an eight lane 50m swimming pool] has been successful in attracting funding from Sport England totalling £5.49m. However, in order to fund the project, Victoria Swimming Baths and the Hilsea Lido will need to be sold."
Tourism Manager, Jane Hurdley, said: 'A big hotel chain is interested in the Hilsea Lido site, but the talks are at a confidential stage at the moment.'
Another document confirmed:
"In October 2005 the City Council decided that the Lido Main Pool will be retained only until the new 50m pool, included in the Mountbatten Centre redevelopment, is up and running." (Scheduled for 2009).
2006: A preferred options document for the Hilsea Lido site was issued. A public meeting to discuss options was held in September 2006. However none of these options allow for swimming in Hilsea Lido.
"A campaign led by June Cooper, of Military Road, Hilsea, has gained impetus following a decision by city council bosses to shut the main pool in 2009. Mrs Cooper has quickly obtained 1,000 signatures on a petition and plans to present it at the next full council meeting in September."
2008: Final season, run by Portsmouth City Council.
The Lido gets a £24,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for an oral history project, see the No Diving website.
2009: Ownership passes to registered charity, Hilsea Lido Pool for the People, who hope to reopen the pool soon.
2013: "As a result of all the hard work of a great team of volunteers working through a wet and very cold winter, Hilsea Lido has been finally cleaned and repainted. Pumps, valves and filters have all been made ready, and the lido is full of water again. Although not quite ready to open for public swimming, Hilsea is hosting the Marie Curie Swimathon on 28 April."
For a detailed history of this lido, read "The Book of Hilsea: Gateway to Portsmouth" by Jane Smith, published by Halsgrove, 2002 (ISBN: 1841141313); and Janet Smith's book, pp. 45 and 102-105.
Aerial photo: Google Earth
Website: Hilsea Lido, Pool for the People
Hitchin Swimming Centre
Fishponds Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1HA
Tel: 01462 441646
In 1938, the new "ozone" outdoor pool was opened. This pool still exists today alongside a modern eight-lane indoor pool opened in 1991. Situated in a park setting, it is a 50m outdoor heated pool (summer only) with sunbathing terrace, as well as a 25m indoor pool with separate learner pool. TSS writes: "Brick built with green glazed tile roofs. Fine fountain and rose pergola".
Hitchin Swimming Centre also administer the outdoor pools at Letchworth and Royston (see below).
Website: via North Hertfordshire District Council
Ilkley Pool and Lido
Denton Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire LS29 0BZ
Tel: 01943 600453
Unheated pool, 46m in diameter. Built in 1935, this is one of Yorkshire's
last open-air swimming pools, with ramped access, central fountain and slide. The pool's
Art Deco café sells good basic grub such as bacon sarnies. There
are good views of the surrounding moors and a hedge keeps off the worst of
the wind. There is also a heated indoor pool on site, open all year.
For a photograph of the fountain, see Janet Smith's book, page 37.
The lido and its surroundings, including the cafe, pavilion and seating area, has now been listed Grade 2.
On the edge of Ilkley Moor is White Wells where, in the 18th century, there was a circular pool near a spring head used for bathing - free to all-comers. By 1756 there was a building used as a "bathing establishment" and the addition of two bathing areas to which water was channelled from the open pool. Visitors could have a short douche, a quick plunge or a shower on payment of a fee.
There is a winter swimming club from September to December at weekends.
Small photo: Bradford Metropolitan District Council
One of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002)
Websites: Friends of Ilkley Pool
or via Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Ingleton Open Air Heated Swimming Pool
Ingelton, North Yorkshire LA6 3EL
Tel. 015242 41147
This heated 20m by 8m open-air swimming pool in the Yorkshire Dales is managed by the local community. The pool was dug out and built by local volunteers in 1933. The workers included striking miners from the New Ingleton Colliery which closed in 1936.
The pool has recently been improved and modernized using major funding from private donations, the National Lottery and the European (Objective 5b) Community Fund as well as other smaller grants. The pool has a beautiful riverside setting and is open from the beginning of the Whitsuntide weekend until the end of the August Bank Holiday weekend. There are various public swimming sessions daily.
See also Janet Smith's book, page 158 and 163.
Letchworth Open Air Pool
Norton Common, Icknield Way, Letchworth, Hertfordshire SG6 4UF
Tel: 01462 684673
Opened in 1935. "Possibly the best open air pool in the area. Open throughout the summer and situated in a beautiful natural environment offering a heated 50m pool plus paddling pool with extensive sun bathing area and free parking". Open daily from late May to early September. Now administered by Hitchin Swimming Centre.
Letchworth's first swimming pool (75 feet by 40 feet, open air and fed by the waters of the Pix Brook), opened in June 1908. It was in use every summer until the new lido was opened at Norton Common.
Website: via North Hertfordshire District Council
Lewes: The Pells Outdoor Swimming Pool
Brook Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2PW
Tel. 01273 472334
Opened in 1860 - Grade II listed. Open in the summer months only, this 50m pool is fed by a natural spring and is the oldest freshwater* open-air pool in the country. The present pool tank, 50 by 25 yards, lies within two previous shells, the oldest being the original 1860's pool. There is also a toddlers' pool and play area. The pool is set in a nature reserve by the river, and the site is held in trust on behalf of the people of Lewes by the Town Brooks Trust - on land bequeathed in 1602.
Janet Smith writes:
"The Pells Pool is a lido in the pure sense, surrounded by lawns and flower beds, with a paddling pool, refreshment kiosk and an occasional bouncy castle."
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, page 159.
*[The sea water pool at Lymington (1833) is older].
Lydney: Bathurst Swimming Pool, Gloucestershire
[On the Aylburton side (south west) of Lydney on the B4234, about 300m before the roundabout taking the A48 bypass around Lydney.]
Tel: 01594 842625
This 1920's 41 x 17m unheated pool. Reputed to be a pair with the still open pool in Cirencester. This is due to the link of both towns with the Bathurst family. There is still a plaque informing us that the pool was presented to the inhabitants of Lydney and Ashburton on 2 October 1920 by the Bathurst family.
Andy Hoines wrote (in 2003):
"The pool has now been taken over by a charitable trust (The Friends of Bathurst Pool), with an initial 3 year lease. They seem to be doing a fantastic job in making a go of the place, with the help of the local community - up to 500 customers a day visited during the heatwave. They have undertaken some cosmetic refurbishments, with new doors and a multi-colour paint job for the changing booths and murals on the walls. When I visited on Tuesday 2 September, I had a marvellous swim in a virtually original, basic outdoor pool."
June 2007: BBC Gloucestershire have a feature on this pool, plus a photo gallery
Website: (none found)
Lymington: Seawater Baths
Bath Road, Lymington, Hampshire SO41 3RU
Tel: 01590 674865
At 90 m by 30 m this unheated sea-water swimming pool is the second-largest straight-sided lido in the UK. It is chlorinated to prevent algae forming. It has rowing boats and canoes, and a kiosk selling hot and cold snacks.
Now owned and operated by Lymington Town Council.
Roman seawater baths" were built in 1833 by William Bartlett with one acre
of unheated sea water - this makes it the oldest lido still open in the UK.
It was improved by Lymington Bath Company in 1929.
Photo: © Lymington and Pennington Town Council
Website: via Lymington and Pennington Town Council.
Maldon Marine Lake [closed for swimming]
Promenade Park, Park Drive, Maldon Essex CM9 7UR
The park was created in 1895 and the Marine Lake was opened in June 1905. Tidal inlets to the original lake were replaced by a sluice gate to the River Blackwater and the Eastern inlet was incorporated, forming about two acres of water.
Stephen Savage writes: "The Lake was an open air (unheated) bathing pool, surrounded by sand. The boating section has now been removed, and the lake is periodically drained and cleaned. Previously there were two diving boards. Two fountains were installed in 2002."
The area was enclosed by fence in 2003, and gates locked as the Lake is closed. The lake is being made into an ornamental lake, and swimming will not be allowed.
2006: On 22nd July at 11am a group of seven ladies swam in the new ornamental lake (now known as the duck pond) in Maldon's Promenade Park, as a protest against the lake being closed for swimming. They were in the water for approximately 15 minutes. Bystanders cheered them on and boats on the river hooted in support.
Wikipedia: Marine Lake
www.maldon.info/lake.htm (has photographs)
Marbury Park Open Air Pool - open to members only
Marbury Park Swimming Club, Marbury, Northwich, Cheshire CW9 6AT
Open air pool built in 1935, in Marbury Country Park.
The park, which dates from 1810, was a country estate until 1932 when it was sold to a builder. It became an exclusive gentleman's club with attractions such as an 18 hole golf course, sailing, horse and hounds, tennis and swimming (the open air pool). "It is still in use today". The estate was later bought by ICI. The great house, Marbury Hall, famously haunted, was pulled down in 1968, and its grounds were subsequently developed into a country park by Cheshire County Council.
Yacov Lev wrote (2005):
It is open to the public either at an annual subscription of £25 or £5 daily. The number of day tickets is, however, limited. There was no problem on a hot weekday, but you may not be able to get in on a hot weekend.
Behind the swimming pool is where the Marbury Lady was buried in the 18th century. You might see her or one of several other spirits running up the steps towards the swimming pool...
or via Cheshire County Council who run the Country Park
Nantwich Outdoor Brine Pool
Wall Lane, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 5LS
Tel: 01270 610606
Nantwich Outdoor Brine Pool was first opened to the public in 1934. The pool measures 100 ft long by 50 ft wide, with a water depth from 3ft to 7ft 6in and with a total capacity of 185,000 gallons. Since the closure of Droitwich Lido (see above), it is probably the only inland Brine Pool left in the U.K. Brine is pumped into the pool from an underground source near to the pool. The pool water temperature is maintained at 74°F and through solar gain is usually much warmer. Older regular customers like to reminisce on their school days when they claim it was only just above freezing point and they happily swam in it! An indoor pool opened in 1976 was built along side the existing Brine Pool. The building remains similar to its original look, however the sauna suite was closed and replaced in 1998 by a Planet Pulse Gym. Nantwich outdoor swimming pool is only used in the summer.
Photo: © Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council
Some old postcards of Nantwich Pool: Bathing beauties, The Cascade and Empty Pool.
Website: via Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council
Oxford: Hinksey Pool
Hinksey Park, Lake Street, Oxford OX1 4RP
Tel: 01865 467079 / 252826
Hinksey Park was laid out in the 1930's on the site of the former Oxford Waterworks which operated there from 1854 to 1933. When the park was built the Council created an outdoor swimming pool in 1934 using the old filter beds. The settlement tank was converted into a children's boating lake with paddle boats.
"1.5 million litres of clean, heated water awaits you in one of Europe's largest open air swimming pools". Open from May to September, it is situated in Hinksey Park approximately one mile south of the city centre. Outdoor heated swimming pool with relaxation area and outdoor play area.
Oxford Branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club occupy part of what used to be the main changing rooms of Hinksey Pool, and use it as their Clubhouse.
2005: Solar thermal panels were installed in a joint initiative with Oxford City Council, the Oxford Solar Initiative and Solarsavers.
Website: via Oxford City Council
Jubilee Pool, Penzance [2014 closed due to storm damage]
Photo © Stut on Flickr
Battery Road, Penzance, Cornwall
Tel: 01736 369224
May not open in 2014 due to severe storm damage. Numerous paving slabs have been dislodged and a hole has appeared exposing the interior of the structure.
Owned by Cornwall Council and operated by Tempus Leisure, this unheated Grade II Listed lido is the largest open-air sea-water tidal swimming pool still in use in the UK. It opened in May 1935.
Steven Braggs writes:
"One of the most unusual and pleasing designs of the era was the Jubilee Pool at Penzance designed by Captain F. Latham, the Borough Engineer. The pool was opened in 1935, the year of King George V's Silver Jubilee. It was built right on the shore line at Penzance and had to be designed to cope with the full ferocity of the Cornish seas. The pool is triangular in shape [330 feet by 240 feet]. In spite of this, straight edges have been avoided and gentle curves make it a most pleasant environment".
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 8, 33, 92-97.
Poolside café, deckchairs for hire. Beware the water can be very cold.
See my 4th webpage for other Tidal Sea-Water Pools.
A small fort, complete with a battery of guns, was built here in 1740 because of Britain's intermittent hostilities with France. The fortifications were later lost beneath the present Jubilee Pool.
Mike Greenslade recently held an exhibition of photographs of the Jubilee Pool, one of which is at the top of this webpage. This pool is probably the most photographed of all lidos in the U.K.
One of Tom Dyckhoff's Ten Best Lidos (The Times 5 August 2003)
and one of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002)
Website: Jubilee Pool, Penzance
The Regional Fitness & Swimming Centre, Bishop’s Road, Peterborough,
Cambridgeshire PE1 5BW
Tel: 01733 343618
Grade II listed. Alan Powers writes:
"Outstanding 1935 50m heated pool with central clock tower,sunbathing decks, with pavilions and lawns. Main and children's pool".
Located near the city centre, it provides highly enjoyable open air swimming during the summer months. Nearby is the Regional Fitness & Swimming Centre with an 25m indoor pool, diving pool, etc.
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 116-119.
Peterborough Sub-Aqua Club use rooms at the lido throughout the year, including club room with licensed bar, lecture room for training and demonstrations, compressor room and storage. See their website for more photos of this pool.
Small photo: Peterborough City Council
via Peterborough City Council
or D C Leisure Management Ltd
Plymouth: Tinside Lido [reopened August 2003]
Hoe Road, Plymouth, Devon
Tel. 0870 3000042
The re-opened pool
Lido and changing rooms are Grade II listed, and owned by City of Plymouth
The Twentieth Century Society writes: "Tinside was built in 1935. As a mid-thirties leisure building it is ideally suited to that peculiar mixture of Art Deco and International style which so characterises many of our best seaside buildings. It was listed in 1998 having suffered much neglect. In its full glory, Tinside was a stunning sight. A classically proportioned semi-circular pool; it had three fountains or cascades for aerating the water. At night the water was floodlit from below, as were the cascades, which went through three colour changes. Designed by S. Wibberley, City Engineer, the lido is part of a dramatic complex of buildings, which hug the cliffside and extend into the sea. The main building, in reinforced concrete, reflects a more austere modernism than the exuberant pool. It has a flat roof, with sun terrace."
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 108-113.
The restoration of Tinside is part of a major scheme of works totalling more than £4 million, including the strengthening and renovation of the Colonnades (also Listed) which sweep above the structure. The base of the pool has been re-anchored to the bedrock with piles, and the pool floor has been rebuilt together with the sides of the basin to include a modern filtration system. There is also a new plant room.
There are also three tidal swimming pools on the Hoe, and another at Mount Wise.
Website: via Plymouth City Council
St. Albans: Cottonmill Swimming Pool [not open to the public]
Cottonmill Lane, St. Albans, Herts. AL1 1HJ
This lido was built in 1905 by George Ford with Mr Bushell, a builder. At a cost of just £1,275, it opened on 29 July 1905. It closed to the public in the 1970s and taken over by a sub-aqua/canoe club. It is 105ft long by 30ft wide, with a depth of 6ft to 3ft 6ins. The pool is still operational and used, but it is not open to the public.
Website: St. Albans Sub Aqua Club
Stanford Hall Outdoor Pool [now derelict]
Postal address: Stanford Hall, Stanford-on-Soar, Loughborough, Leicestershire
Photo: © The Festival Players, Loughborough
Stanford Hall was built in 1774 for the Sheriff of Nottingham, and is a Grade II listed building set in 350 acres of protected parkland on the Leicestershire / Nottinghamshire boundary. It was purchased by the Co-operative Union in 1945 and was run as a conference and training centre. In 2001 it was sold to Raynsway Properties, and in 2007 it was sold again to Chek Whyte as a 148-bedroom hotel.
(There is another Stanford Hall near Lutterworth, Leicestershire).
The "full-sized" outdoor swimming pool was privately built in 1937, and is also Grade II listed.
Alan Powers writes: "Curving concrete diving boards (steps now filled in) and grotto at shallow end". Also in the gardens are a Neo-classical summer-house, thatched tennis pavilion and an Italian courtyard.
May 2007: The pool is now derelict - see Daniel Warren's photos on Flickr.
Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool
Queen Elizabeth Park, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire AB39 2RD
Tel: 01569 762134
"The UK's only art deco, olympic sized, fully filtrated sea water, open air swimming pool - and it’s heated to 84 deg F. It was first opened by local public subscription in June 1934, when the townsfolk showed remarkable foresight in building it to full Olympic metric standards. Massively patronised from the 1930's to the 1970's with figures reaching 65,000 annually. However by 1994 it was earmarked for closure by the Council. But the ‘Friends of Stonehaven Outdoor Pool’ won the day (eat your hearts out, North Berwick) and saved a great pool that goes from length to strength. A fabulous 1930s Olympic-sized heated salt-water pool. There are midnight swims in midsummer most Wednesdays (is that cool, or what?)". Open June to August only. The Leisure Centre with indoor swimming pool is next door.
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 50 and 84-85.
One of Tom Dyckhoff's Ten Best Lidos (The Times 5 August 2003)
and one of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002)
Photographs: © Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool
Stenhousemuir: The Lido
is not a lido as such. Crownest Park was laid out as a memorial to King George V and by the 1950s its central feature was the "childrens lido" - more a pond with a sandy beach. (Stenhousemuir is roughly halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh).
Street: Greenbank Swimming Pool
Wilfrid Road, Street, Somerset BA16 0EU
Telephone: 01458 442468
Greenbank Pool is 30m long and 12m wide with an adjacent semi-circular childrens pool. The heated pool is open from May to September, all day at weekends and during the school vacations, plus afternoons in term-time. The pool was a gift to the people of Street from Alice Clark in 1937. The town's prosperity was from the Clark family firm of shoemakers and the present-day headquarters of Clarks is still based in Street, nearby.
For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, page 161.
Website (with photographs): www.greenbankpool.co.uk
Stroud: Stratford Park Leisure Centre
Stratford Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 4AF
Tel: 01453 766771
Outdoor 50m swimming pool built in 1937 by F S Cutler.
Stratford Park Leisure Centre opened in 1973, now also includes an indoor pool, and is managed by CCL Leisure on behalf of Stroud District Council.
Alan Powers writes: "At opposite corners of the pool are two two-story and two one-story pavilions in Cotswold limestone with hipped roofs and terracing. Distinctive 10 metre high cast-in-situ curved concrete 3-level diving board". [Ref: Architecture Illustrated, 1941, (September).]
For a photograph of the diving board, see Janet Smith's book, page 39.
Website: via Stroud District Council
Tollesbury: Woodup Pool
Sometimes called Woodrolfe Pool
Woodrolfe Road, Tollesbury, Maldon, Essex CM9 8SE
Opened as the Woodup Pool by Lady de Crespigny in 1907. In 1925 the pool was bought by Tollesbury Parish Council for £250.
Andrew Hatton wrote (in 2005):
"It is free at Tollesbury and first thing in the morning, isolated. I have swum there most mornings for the last fortnight. It's warm and wonderful with the salt marshes and boat / sea / riverscape to view day by day, as the tides and wildlife come and go with almost no human activity apart from the milkman delivering to the boat chandlers next door, a few workmen coming and going, people walking in the distance on the boardwalk / jetties to and from the moorings, and the stationary lightship of Fellowship Afloat. I am truly blessed and grateful."
Now run by the Woodup Pool Committee, Tollesbury Parish Council.
Note: Children should be supervised at all times as there are no lifeguards.
Two photographs, from Tollesbury Sailing Club, and Beenthere-donethat
Website: via Maldon District Council
Ware: The Priory Lido
Priory Street, Ware, Hertfordshire SG12 9AL
Tel: 01920 460703
A heated 30m x 9m open air pool, built in 1934. Substantially altered in the 1970s with new changing rooms. Situated in the grounds of Ware Priory, there are also three hard surface tennis courts, a public basketball court and a park.
Abercrombie's 1944 Greater London Plan proposed a regional park in the Lee Valley, and in 1968 an Authority was formed to make a 37km long park from Hackney to Ware.
or via Ware Town Council
Wiveliscombe Open Air Pool
Wiveliscombe, Taunton, Somerset TA4 2TA
Tel: 01984 624720
Heated pool, 27m by 10m, 1.4m deep at the shallow end increasing to 2.1m at the deep end.
Jo Harding writes (2008):
"Wivey pool was built in 1927 for the princely sum of £778 by William White. The water was supplied from local reservoirs and without treatment, quickly turned green! Nobody seemed to mind though and it wasn't until 1938 that the water was chlorinated. In WW2 the locals were joined by locally based troops and evacuees.
In 1967 a public health inspector closed the pool insisting that the pumps be improved, and following a public meeting, a plant room was built allowing the pool to reopen in August 1968.
The next ten years proved to be a struggle and the pool closed again for a while until a donation was received and a swimming pool club was formed. Fundraising events took place and enabled the club to purchase new pumps in 1982. The 1990s saw more fundraising and a water heating system was installed. The pool was refurbished in 2002 when a new fibreglass liner was put in and pumps three times the size of old ones were installed the following year.
Today, the pool is run by a group of dedicated volunteers who hope to install solar panels to provide hot water for the pool. Also planned are showers and a paddling pool."
www.wiveliscombe.com (has photos)
Woburn Open Air Swimming Pool
Also known as Woburn Lido.
Crawley Road, Woburn, Bedfordshire
Tel: 01525 290168
You can hear elephants on Woburn Estate and sometimes see them bathing in the lake on the other side of the wall of this Lido. It was built in 1911 by the 11th Duke of Bedford for the benefit of his workers, with another (still open) nearby at Eversholt in Bedfordshire. The pool at Woburn is 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, and is open from late May to September daily. A third village pool at Husborne Crawley was also built by the Duke, but is now derelict and was used as a fish farm. For photographs, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 165 and 170.
Eversholt - www.eversholtvillage.co.uk
Woburn Lido - www.prstubbs.btinternet.co.uk/woburn.htm
Oliver Merrington, first compiled in 2002.
Updated October 2007.
Minor edits, March 2014.