Save Saltdean Lido Website Online at www.saltdeanlidocampaign.org
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IMPORTANT - SALTDEAN LIDO - Please note that the community centre is open as usual - contact Saltdean Community Association for details. The swimming pool at the Lido is currently closed awaiting news of tendering and redevelopment. There is no contact number for queries - visit the Saltdean Lido campaign website for updates.
Let it lido - the UK's best outdoor pools
Saltdean Lido, Sussex
If you’re on the South Coast and fancy a swim, you could join the throng on pebbly Brighton Beach.
But if you want to avoid the candy floss kids and hen parties, go a mile up the coast to the wonderful art deco lido at Saltdean. It’s not big, but it is sexy.
What’s there? Pool with cascade and diving board, café and sun terraces.
How much? £4 adults, £3 children, £2 under-5s and concessions.
Opening times: 7am to 9pm weekdays, 10am to 6pm weekends, until mid-September.
Get there: Drive east along the South Coast Road from Brighton or take buses 12, 12A, 14, 14A, 14B or 14C. Find driving directions to Saltdean, and look for holiday accommodation in the area.
Find out more: Call 01273 888308
The term Lido is from the name of a bathing place in Venice.
They are usually designed for activities around water with
areas for sunbathing and eating.
The Golden Age of new Lidos was in the 1930s when swimming
became very popular. Many Lidos and pools have closed but
saltdean is unusual in being open again.
Several factors came together in the inter-war years to spark
off a huge popularity for outdoor swimming pools. Swimming
itself was a highly fashionable sport throughout the period.
It had been popular as early as 1875, when Captain Webb swam
across the Channel, but was to take on a new significance
from the 'twenties onwards.1926 saw the first woman, Miss
Gertrude Ederle, swim across the Channel, beating the then
male record by two hours, followed by six other women in 1928.
Magazines of the time were full of references to improving
health and general fitness through swimming.
Bathing wear evolved through the 'twenties to give women
more freedom, and "Jantzen" launched their new
costumes in 1929 with the slogan "the suit that changed
bathing into swimming". Added to this, sunbathing swept
our shores in the early 'thirties with a general fashion
for healthy outdoor pursuits including hiking and rambling.
Swimming's popularity encouraged many local councils of
seaside resorts to invest heavily in new pools as part of
the general improvement needed to cater for the dramatic
increase in the numbers of holiday makers. At the start
of the 'thirties, it became as essential to have a lido
as it had been to have a pier forty years before. By the
end of the 'thirties, lidos were to be found at Prestatyn
(opened 1922), Blackpool (1923), Plymouth (1928), Exmouth
(1929), Skegness (1932), Hastings and St Leonards (1933),
New Brighton and Wallasey (1934), Brighton (1935), Penzance
(opened 1935), Morecambe (1936), Weston-super-Mare (1938),
to name a selection. Bournemouth actually had an indoor
pool with one wall opening to give the advantages of an
outdoor pool in hot weather.
By the mid 'thirties a standard lido design had emerged.
Most pools were rectangular, although oval shapes were also
common with decks for sunbathing and cafés for bathers
and spectators. 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 and 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 features with
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.
One particularly pleasing example of the modern style is
the Saltdean Lido, which happily still stands today. Saltdean
was developed extensively in the 'thirties and promoted
to potential investors as "The Coming Resort".
Saltdean itself has many 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 Ocean Hotel.
The pool itself is situated near the beach. 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.
One thing that may appear strange to the modern reader
is not the popularity of the lido itself, but why they were
so popular at seaside towns? Certainly, people had come
to expect the same public facilities on holiday as they
enjoyed at home. Surely, though, if they wanted to go swimming,
what was wrong with the sea? What may seem even stranger
is that most seaside lidos were built only a few hundred
yards away from, if not actually on, the beach itself and
they were filled with salt water from the sea. The answer
lies in the prevailing attitude towards bathing. This was
sadly still the era of bathing restrictions and added charges.
The bathing machine had ceased to be used by most people
before the First World War, but the attitudes that first
brought it into use died hard. It was still common for councils
to insist bathers made use of and paid for the regulation
council bathing huts or cubicles and some still charged
bathers for the privilege of erecting their own bathing
tents on the beach. At Bournemouth, the charges were 6d
per half-hour to hire a bathing tent or 9d daily to use
your own. At Eastbourne, you were required to pay 6d to
use a corporation tent. 'Free bathing', as it was known,
was only available from certain places or at certain times
of the day. At Bournemouth, for example, you could only
bathe without charge before 8 am. The practice of so called
"Macintosh bathing" was usually frowned upon and
technically could result in a fine. In the 'thirties this
involved changing into bathing wear in the hotel and walking
to the beach, often only across the road, wearing a Macintosh
which was then discarded on the beach. At Eastbourne, in
1937, "Macintosh bathing" was permitted, but a
charge of 3d was levied which included the use of a cloakroom.
Actually changing under the Macintosh or in the car parked
just opposite the beach was considered even worse.
Things were worse still. It was quite common for council
officials to decide that the weather was too "rough"
for sea bathing and forbid it altogether on certain days
of the year. If you had to pay anyway, why not pay and swim
in the lido, which was probably cheaper and offered better
swimming than the sea? Also, you would not lose out on the
days when the sea was considered too rough. The swimming
pool at Hastings and St Leonards even offered (sea) bathing
from the pool. (You changed in the lido and swam in the
sea!) Back to top
The lido reached its zenith of popularity in the 'thirties.
There were few new lidos built after the War. Gradually
tastes changed and poor attendance made the pools uneconomic
to run. Many fell into disrepair and decay and were finally
demolished. As a symbol of the 'thirties, the lido stands
supreme, symbolising as it did, unashamed modernity, fashionable
chic, youthful healthy activity and the cult of sun worship.
If sun worship was the cult of the 'thirties, then the lido
surely was its temple.
"Taken and adapted with thanks from 'Sun, Fun and
Crowds - Seaside Holidays Between the Wars' by Steven Braggs
and Diane Harris, published by Tempus Publishing Ltd"
Please consult http://www.seasidehistory.co.uk/
Other articles on the Internet
Student Saves Saltdean Lido' - The University of Sussex
1997 Click here
Another article regarding Lido's and outdoor pools in the
UK Click here
For more on the History of the Lido please consult Saltdean