The Elixir Series: Love at First Lido
Swimming has been around since the beginning of time, with folklore and cave drawings recording how the earliest humans found pleasure, food and survival from the water. As the human race evolved, our love of swimming transcended with it. The UK’s first outdoor pool was built in 1815, just outside of Bath, known as the Cleveland Pools, while the 19th century found more people enjoying a float in public parks; including the infamous Hampstead Heath ponds. Fast forward to the 1930’s, the outdoor swimming movement was well and truly alive, as grand
openings of lidos up and down the country were held, welcoming people from all over to behold, bathe and be. For 30 years these bustling, vibrant lidos provided dippers with a serene space between the wild sea and metropolis cityscapes to swim. But sadly, many pools faced closure, as the 1960’s saw a boom in accessible international travel, as well as an influx of reports suggesting a general rule ‘that pools should be indoors’, councils poured funds into other ventures deemed more necessary. But some of these beloved structures held on tight, being refurbished and still frequently visited by local communities, written about in
literacy, with charities and trusts keeping them - excuse the pun - afloat.
During the unprecedented times of lockdown, the lido craze resurfaced as outdoor wild swimming grew in popularity. This year, the 208 year-old Cleveland Pools will reopen after 40 years of closure, a pinnacle of hope for the future of Britains historic lidos.
Without further ado, welcome to the third article in the Elixir Series, a deep dive into some of the country’s most prominent and historic sites, where you’re guaranteed to find love at first lido.
Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall(Photo by: @molza_photography via @jubileepool)
Built in 1935, the Jubilee Pool has been described as ‘one of the most unusual and pleasingly designed lidos of the era’, and was designed in a triangular shape to withhold the rugged Cornish seas. There are two swim areas, a main pool and a geothermal pool, both of which are very popular year-round. Prices can be found here: Jubilee Pool
Thames Lido, Reading(Photo by: @thameslido)
The iconic Thames Lido, formerly known as King’s Meadow, was originally used in 1902 as a Ladies Swimming Bath; it’s windowless design providing privacy for female bathers until it’s closure in 1974. In 2013, the team from Bristol Lido were given chance to restore this historic landmark and reopened to the public 4 years later. Now, you’ll find a vibrant, elegant, bustling lido with eateries, spa treatments and a beautifully restored pool. Prices and more info can be found here: Thames Lido
Tinside Lido, Plymouth(Photo by: @tinsidelido)
Open during the summer months, this salt-water haven has been a British icon (and Art Deco style-icon) since it’s opening in 1935. There is no better place to bathe, soaking up the sun and views of Plymouth’s breathtaking seafront. For tickets, prices and more information click here: Tinside Lido
Bristol Lido, Bristol(Photo by: @lidobristol)
This elegant, bustling urban retreat gives visitors more than just a serene swim; but a place to dine, drink, and indulge is some well-deserved R&R. Built in 1850, Bristol Lido had a turbulent history before it’s closure in 1990. In 2008, Arne Ringner and his team redeveloped and restored this lido into what it once was; a swimmer’s paradise. Bookings are essential: Bristol Lido
Cleveland Pools, Bath(Photo by: @clevelandpoolsbath)
Built in 1817, steeped in over 200 years of history, the Cleveland Pools are the heart of Britains lido epoch. These pools have seen Jane Austin’s lifetime, hosted spectacular gala parties with Baboon’s in attendance, been a trout farm and now, after 40 years of closure, will once again open to the public. So much love, patience, effort and time has gone into these pools, we can’t wait to see memories both relived and remade here. Visit here: Cleveland Pools
Saltdean Lido, Brighton(Photo by: @saltdeanlido)
Named one of the Seven Wonders of the English Seaside, this ‘International Style’ lido has welcomed the masses since it’s opening in 1937. The site is open to the public while still undergoing restoration, it’s home to a number of eateries, co-working spaces, gym and soon-to be event space. Rich in history and happiness, Saltdean is a must visit. More info here: Saltdean Lido
Serpentine Lido, London(Photo by: https://www.royalparks.org.uk)
Arguably one of London’s most iconic open-water lido, the Serpentine Lido is also home to one of Britains oldest swimming clubs, whose Christmas Day race brings in crowds of onlookers. The lido itself is open to the public on weekends from mid-may until mid-September, with the popular Cafe Bar offering waterside seating; an ideal place to wine and dine. You can find information on pricing and opening times here: Serpentine Lido
Parliament Hill Lido, London(Photo by: http://parliamenthilllido.org)
Opened in August 1938, Parliament Hill Lido was an expensive and ambitious build (at a cost of £34,000) between the wars. It’s design was carefully crafted to reduce shade, trap the heat and provide space for sunbathers and spectators. The lido is rich in history, from it’s diving events to it’s mixed bathing, and is a fascinating visit for any history or swim lovers. Learn more here:
Parliament Hill Lido
Sandford Park Lido, Cheltenham(Photo by: https://www.sandfordparkslido.org.uk/)
First opened in 1935, Sandford Park Lido has been a beloved local attraction for generations. This iconic swimming pool offers a unique experience that combines history, nature, and leisure. The lido is set within a picturesque park, providing a tranquil and scenic environment for visitors to enjoy. Furthermore, with its children's pool and play area, it's a place where you can make memories, have fun, and embrace the joy of swimming: Sandford Parks Lido
Over the centuries these lidos have brought endless joy, laughter, iconic memories and moments to life… Why stop now? Grab your cossie, a swim awaits!