How the UK fell in love with lidos again – and five that were saved by people power

Everything strengthens the sense that were in the midst of a lido renaissance. “Lidos have ended up being fashionable over the previous couple of years,” said Emma Pusill, author of The Lido Guide. The new virtue of wellness enjoys a blue backdrop and everybody knows someone who will not stop speaking about the (mainly anecdotal) body-and-mind advantages of cold-water swimming.

Function and understanding soon grew to embody the novel idea of leisure, which had actually hitherto been the preserve of aristocrats. The vision of outside pool as social escalators was not lost on the architects of these brand-new democratic areas: surrounded by streamlined, shapely art deco structures, a see to the lido (the word itself made stylish by its Venetian provenance) was imbued with thrilling, sometimes titillating, sophistication.


Lidos are not similarly distributed across the UK: of the 100 or so outside swimming pools that remain in the nation, many are focused in the south of England. “They are a total barometer of wealth inequality,” said Pusill..

The 2nd world war put paid to the enjoyable times and in the years that followed, lidos fortunes subsided. Lidos suffered persistent under-investment from local authorities triggered, in part, by a new focus on developing indoor multi-service leisure centres.

The post-war pattern for pulling the plug on lidos is in reverse as individuals find the benefits of outdoor swimming. The shift marks a victory for project groups and public health.

” It felt like getting a ticket to Glasto,” stated swimmer Will Thomas. “None of my pals got in.” His delighted dip at London Fields lido over the Easter weekend was his first in a year. Elsewhere, the chirpy chief officer of Beccles Lido in Lowestoft, Shaun Crowley, reported that 4,000 slots had been sold in the very first week. Londons Parliament Hill Lido, meanwhile, cautioned swimmers about having too much of a good thing amid increasing cases of hypothermia.

In other places, the future is looking brighter for our lidos thanks to the vigorous work of grassroots campaign groups, which have sought to restore them according to their original progressive concepts.

Phil Bradby, founder of Save Grange Lido, has been working to bring Grange-over-Sands Lido– a striking art deco pool on the edge of the Lake District– back to life for a decade. “When we started, individuals believed we were crazy attempting to conserve a long-forgotten lido in the north. Its remarkable how things have actually changed in 10 years– now were part of a transformation.”.

This wasnt always so. At peak lido in the 1930s, hundreds of pools were built expressly for working-class communities as a provision for public health. Specifically, hygiene (many houses still did not have sanitation) and the German-inspired fashion for exercise. Staying up to date with das Joneses caused London alone to build some 60 pools, as its socialist mayor Herbert Morrison pledged to make “a city of lidos”.

In 2018, Cleveland Pools in Bath– the UKs earliest public outside swimming pool– was granted ₤ 4.7 m by the National Lottery Heritage Fund following a 17-year project. Ina Harris, head of fundraising and a trustee, told Positive News: “Its not in the posh end of Bath; were trying to keep it as budget-friendly as possible.” Work starts this week and its set to open in July 2022.

Lidos feel like the ideal post-pandemic job.

Cleveland Pools in Bath, the UKs earliest public outdoor pool. Image: Cleveland Pools Trust.

Positive News publication is the important review of whats going right on the planet. Subscribe now to get the lively brand-new April-June concern.

However can lidos, as Hull city board claims, assistance to “build a better society”? Deborah Aydon, who is leading the project to open a heated outside swimming pool in Liverpool, thinks so. “In regards to economic healing and public health, lidos seem like the ideal post-pandemic job,” she stated. “Theyre quite centers for their neighborhood and are extremely inclusive.”.

With Covid, staying healthy and working out has actually handled a more pressing appeal. This, combined with restrictions on travel, has encouraged people to take the plunge. “In some methods, the pandemic has been the lidos good friend,” stated Pusill. “We found our regional environment and the simpler things in life.”.

Twitter was awash with blue rectangles and smiley, red-eyed swimmers last week as a clutch of lidos reopened across England.

These primarily jubilant reopenings came as Hull city board dedicated ₤ 4.6 m to the restoration of its derelict Albert Avenue swimming pool, situated in one of the UKs the majority of deprived neighbourhoods. Prepare for public and personal lidos have actually likewise been given the consent from Brighton to Manchester, while a host of grassroots neighborhood projects to conserve existing ones are showing green shoots.

A swimmer pauses to get rid of a leaf from Londons Parliament Hill Lido. Image: Paul Meyler.

See the world from a fresh angle.

5 lidos conserved by people power.

1. Saltdean Lido, East Sussex.

Named by English Heritage as one of the 7 wonders of the beach, this Brighton swimming pool left the wrecking ball thanks to the determination of regional advocates who raised ₤ 3m over seven years. It reopened in June 2017.

2. Droitwich Spa Lido, Worcestershire.

Among only 2 salt-water lidos in the nation, the 1930s-built swimming pool was saved from demolition by the tireless efforts of the SALT (Save A Lido Today) project and reopened in 2007.

3. Portishead Open Air Pool, Somerset.

A United States TV transformation show actioned in to help save Portishead Open Air Pool.

The campaign to save Portishead lido received an increase from a not likely source when an US TELEVISION transformation program assisted to “flood the sight with resources”. That was in 2009; the volunteer-run swimming pool has actually because been going strong considering that.

4. Buckfastleigh Open Air Pool, Devon.

This heated lido has been running under community stewardship for five years, having been conserved following a campaign to raise ₤ 300,000. Members of the group have actually gone on to work for the towns indie council, which prides itself on doing democracy in a different way.

5. Brightlingsea Lido, Essex.

A member of the Historic Pools of Britain, this 50m-long seaside pool was allocated for closure in 2017 before a regional volunteer group circled their wagons. It reopened in 2018 following a refurb and is now neighborhood run.

“Lidos have become stylish over the previous couple of years,” stated Emma Pusill, author of The Lido Guide. At peak lido in the 1930s, hundreds of pools were constructed expressly for working-class communities as an arrangement for public health. Keeping up with das Joneses caused London alone to build some 60 pools, as its socialist mayor Herbert Morrison vowed to make “a city of lidos”.

Phil Bradby, creator of Save Grange Lido, has actually been working to bring Grange-over-Sands Lido– a striking art deco swimming pool on the edge of the Lake District– back to life for a years. “When we started out, individuals thought we were crazy attempting to conserve a long-forgotten lido in the north.

Main image: Paul Meyler.

About the author