Open Air Lidos
Opening Day in 1938 - "England’s only Grade II* listed lido (today), just four miles along the coast from Brighton, was designed as the centre piece of Saltdean’s new seaside resort and first opened in 1938 drawing in crowds from far and wide" - image courtesy of the Heritage Lottery Fund via the Daily Mail
Designed by RW Jones (who also designed the Ocean Hotel) this 1938 Open Air Lido was built of reinforced concrete, with sprayed cement finish painted white. During the Second World War the National Fire Service used the pool as a water tank and the grounds for training.
Standing proud above the Lido is the rear of the Ocean Hotel
As promoted in 1937 (the Ocean Hotel can be seen on the hill in the background)
Still a popular venue as seen on this contemporary postcard from 1979
From here the deterioration becomes self-evident
The start of the neglect .......
A sight which is all too familiar - the destruction of the original pool area in preparation for the renovation
Working from the original architects plans the feature fountain begins to take shape
One particularly pleasing example of the modern style is the Saltdean Lido, which happily still stands today. Saltdean is a suburb of Brighton which was developed extensively in the 'thirties and promoted to potential investors as "The Coming Resort". Saltdean itself has many fine buildings, built in the Hollywood Modern style - white walls and green roofs - popular in many seaside developments of the era. Saltdean's lido was designed by the architect, R W H Jones, who also designed the stylish Ocean Hotel in the same suburb.
The pool itself is situated near the coastline. It is relatively small, offering provision for only five hundred bathers. The main building behind is a two storey block, featuring a café with curved metal windows in its centre. Forming curved wings on either side of the café are the changing rooms on the ground floor and the sun terraces above these. The café resembles the bridge of an ocean liner. The effect is heightened by the presence of white curved metal railings on top of the café and in front of the terraces. Inspiration for the design appears to have been contemporary liner and aircraft design. No doubt, the nearby De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill-on-Sea also had its influence. The pool itself has the popular features of a cascade in the centre and a diving board with curved railings styled to match the design of the main building. The design was well received by the contemporary architectural press. - Source : Seaside History
Promotional poster for Morecambe and Heysham showing the Super Swimming Stadium and Pier
Queuing to get into the Super Swimming Stadium in the summer of 1945 for a Beauty Pageant (the Midland Hotel is in the background) - image courtesy of The Visitor
The Super Swimming Stadium as well as the bay used to promote visiting Morecambe and Heysham via LMS trains!
The 'New Baths Scheme' looking vey much like an 'artists impression' of how the new Super Stadium would look from above
Vintage postcards showing the entrance to the Super Swimming Pool, the pier and formal gardens and in the distance the pier and Don Café
Various images of the Super Swimming Stadium as recorded on postcards - in some cases it looks as if an event is going to take place and the Stadium is full of spectators, in other views the general public are enjoying the actual Stadium for swimming and diving in. Many Miss Great Britain contests took place in Morecambe.
Morecambe Council also decided it needed a large outdoor pool to compete with nearby Blackpool. A new pool was built in 1936 on the site of the former ship breaking business of T W Ward Ltd. The ship breakers had long been considered an eyesore to the town, but paradoxically were something of an attraction. Many visitors paid to go on board the doomed ocean liners and warships. This time Morecambe's councillors made sure that they outdid Blackpool. The pool was truly massive, 396ft by 110ft. It was called the Super Swimming Stadium. The pool was designed by architects Cross and Sutton and built by Sir Lindsey Parkinson. The style was uncompromisingly modern. Ostensibly, it was built from reinforced concrete, like the pool at Hastings. However, 500,000 old fashioned bricks were used in the construction. The statistics of the materials used make awesome reading. As well as the bricks, there were 15,000 cubic yards of concrete, 450 tons of steel reinforcement, 2,000 square yards of granolithic flooring, 5.5 miles of pipes, 12 miles of electrical wiring and 400 lights.
Morecambe's new pool had problems right from the start. The Council was sued, unsuccessfully as it turned out, when a boy slipped on the new pool's non-slip steps and broke his front teeth. More seriously, a leak had appeared in the sea wall that formed the basin, in which the pool was set, even before construction of the pool itself began. The cause of the leak was never established and repair work never really cured the problem. This meant that sea-water could leak into the pool at high tide and the water from the pool could escape at low tide.
In spite of its problems the pool did go on to play host to the Miss Great Britain contests after the War, but was eventually demolished in the 'seventies. - Source : Seaside History
This is another of my regular places of entertainment whilst I was growing up on Church Drive, Carrington, Nottingham. The front of the house looked out onto a cemetery (hence, presumably my lack of shock/horror where cemeteries were concerned). Directly beyond the cemetery we could see, from the first floor front room (which used to be a joint bedroom for my sister and I and then became the upstairs 'salon') bay window the highest level of the diving board at the Lido. To get to the Lido I had to turn right out of the front door, walk the length of our half of Church Drive, which took me passed the entrance to St. John's Church, turn left at the end and walk a few yards passed the church and the bus-stop and then on my left I saw this :
From The Nottingham Evening Post dated 29th June 1937 just prior to the opening of the Lido
Or more to the point it's likely it would have looked more like this:
I remember this view well - it was always nice to see the flower arrangements and the Church visible in the distance behind the separating wall. This walkway ran the length of the building which housed the Canteen and Changing Room areas
Opposite the Changing Rooms and Canteen area, visible in the background, were the diving platforms for the daredevils. There was one further platform above the one visible in this picture, which is the one we could see from the house. There was a lower diving board to the left of the main structure for more timid divers/jumpers. Images © of Picture the Past
There was a lovely little fountain feature which I loved at the shallow end but am unable to source an image and a free-standing fountain directly at the opposite end of the pool - I loved this place (sigh!)
There isn't much still available about the history of the Lido even though it was such a big part of my life when I was growing up and when I was still 'whole'. But what there is I can reproduce here :
From 'The History of Carrington' by Terry Fry - Carrington Lido opened on July 29th 1937, the same day as the one at Bulwell. It cost £20,000 and was built on the site of the old horse-drawn tram stables. Obviously, an open-air pool was very popular in hot weather, but in a poor summer takings were low and for the rest of the year it stood idle. It closed for the last time in 1988. It was intended to build a library next to the lido but the Public Libraries Committee said, in 1934, that it did not require the land for that purpose.'
There is an interesting article in the Nottingham Evening Post about the funding of the Open Air Swimming Pools in Nottingham dated 2nd April, 1936 : '£39,000 for Nottingham Swimming Pools - Veritable Lidos - Loan Approval by Health Ministry - Council Scheme - Carrington and Bulwell sites.
From the Nottingham Evening Post April 19th 1940 - no details given as to why the Auxiliary Fire Service had to spring clean the pool 'in record time'
Inevitably, of course as this picture shows, the neglected lido became derelict prior to demolition - Image © of Picture the Past
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. In spite of this, straight edges have been avoided and gentle curves make it a most pleasant environment. A contemporary guide book tells us that:
"In many respects the design is unique architecturally, partly from a point of view of necessity in conforming with existing conditions of wave elements and rocks which controlled the outline. Streamlines have been used to the greatest advantage in meeting the direction of the storm waves, while a Cubist style has been adopted in the interior in providing diving platforms and steps. The whole pool is surrounded by high streamlined sea walls terraced up within the interior so as to give aspect and effect. They also serve to strengthen the structure."
The "high streamlined sea walls" also protect swimmers from strong, offshore winds and form terraces for spectators. Unlike most of the seaside lidos built in this period, the pool still stands today and is in excellent condition.
By the mid 'thirties a standard formula for lido design had emerged. Most pools were rectangular, although oval shapes were also common. Decks for sunbathing and separate cafés for bathers and spectators were also provided. The most important of the lido's buildings was the engine room that kept the pool fed with clean water. Much was made of the purity of water in new pools by guidebooks and contemporary advertising, suggesting that this was not always the case. Most pools of the era had a cascade or fountain. On hot days bathers could climb on to it and watch other swimmers. The fountain also served to aerate the water. Slides were also featured, a double slide or water chute was provided at the Skegness Pool. The diving boards though, were perhaps the most stylish of the features. Some pools had very elaborate diving platforms. The one at Western-super-Mare had a semicircular platform to which boards at varying heights were mounted. This pool also had the unusual feature of a gently sloping beach area. It was though, in other respects conservative for a pool built in 1938, for the classical style was used in preference to the modern. - Source : Seaside History
Page updated : 6th October 2016