About Saltdean Lido


Saltdean Lido is owned by Brighton and Hove Council.

It is leased from Brighton and Hove Council by Dennis Audley, the current leaseholder who took over the lease 10 years ago.

The lease of the Lido, a grade II listed building requires opening the pool from set dates from May to September and requires upkeep and maintenance of the pool and gym facilities.

The Lido building also houses Saltdean Community Association who manage the rent of rooms by many clubs and associations in Saltdean serving around 650 local residents and our local Saltdean Library managed by Brighton and Hove Council.

Lido History

Mr R.W.H. Jones - the same architect who designed Teynham House and Curzon House, drew up plans for the Lido and the Ocean Hotel. Charles Nevill designed the Lido as a 14ft by 66ft pool containing over 300,000 gallons of water and accommodating 500 bathers to be open daily during the summer season with the admission at 6d. Lunch or tea was served on the terraces or sun lounge around the pool with reclining chairs and sun umbrellas. There was much in the mainstream of Lido design in the 1930's but the Lido seems to have been very highly regarded. In October 1938 in the 'Building' journal a writer pronounced 'it is certainly one of the really first-class designs of it's type in the country' Jones was undoubtedly influenced by the work of architect Eric Mendelsohn who was the architect of the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill-on-Sea, built in 1935 - where Charles Neville had married his wife Dorothy.

Children had a separate paddling pool and there was also a boating lake with paddle boats. It was floodlit at night. The reinforced concrete steps of the three tier diving board have now disappeared along with the boating pool to the rear - where the community centre and library is situated today. There was also an elaborate rock garden on the west embankment. Charles Neville looked ahead with a car park planned for 1000 cars with regular buses and shops close by. It was soon a popular venue.


From wikipedia:

The pool measures 140ft by 66ft and can accommodate 500 bathers.

The lido was built in 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, café, 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.

In 1958, Butlins attempted to buy the derelict lido for development, the application was opposed by residents and eventually rejected by the Ministry of Housing.

In 1998 the lido was reopened by Sports Minister Tony Banks. The restoration was achieved through a public and private sector partnership costing £2 million. 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.

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!)

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



Beautiful pictures of the Lido in it's heyday here

The Lido is required by the lease terms to be open from May bank holiday to September every year.

During the summer season the Lido can be open from 10am to 6pm and entry has been £4 per adults with reduced prices for children.

Saltdean Lido, Brighton

Description: Saltdean Lido

Grade: II
Date Listed: 13 July 1987

OS Grid Reference: TQ3806402057
OS Grid Coordinates: 538064, 102057
Latitude/Longitude: 50.8016, -0.0421

Location: Saltdean Park Road, Saltdean, Brighton, Brighton and Hove BN2 8SH

Locality: Brighton
Local Authority: City of Brighton and Hove
County: East Sussex
Country: England
Postcode: BN2 8SH

Listing Text


577-1/14/1098 (West side)
13/07/87 Saltdean Lido


Lido. 1938. By RWH Jones. Reinforced concrete with sprayed cement finish painted white. Flat roofs overlaid with concrete tiles or bituminous felt. Symmetrical plan on a north/south axis.

EXTERIOR: one and 2 storeys facing south across the pool and surrounding paved terraces to the coastal road and the sea. The lido comprises an open-air swimming pool, changing rooms,cafe service rooms, tea and sunbathing terraces. There is a central 2-storey block, semicircular in plan, curving forwards towards the pool; this is surmounted by 2 pavilions and a partly-roofed terrace, and is flanked by single-storey wings curving forward in plan to reflect the segmental curve of the north side of the pool. The front of the central block is surrounded by a broad canopy at first-floor level which links with the terraces over the wings. The canopy is supported on slender concrete columns (6 bays) which are carried up as vertical supports or structural mullions in the glazed first-floor wall. The ground-floor foyer in the centre gives access to changing rooms in the wings and to a reinforced concrete circular stair at its south end which rises into the cafe on the first floor and to covered tea terrace and solarium on the roof. The central block projects to the north of the wings with vehicle access, boiler and staff rooms at rear, and cafe kitchen on the first floor. In each bay of the facade at first-floor level are large folding/sliding glazed panel doors, with horizontal glazing bars, opening onto the canopied terrace. Above, in the centre of the curved fascia,'SALTDEAN LIDO' in large letters painted blue. At the back of the terraces above the wings, tall screen walls with upper cantilevered canopies for shade. At either end the wings terminate with convex return walls which conceal access stairs to terraces and chair stores at upper level. At pool terrace level, a central double-glazed door in each wing to the changing rooms, each flanked to either side by a pair of long,high-level windows. An entry to the foyer flanked by a 6-lightcasement in either side of central block. The bottom and sides of the pool are lined with concrete slabs colour ed blue. There is a 3-stage, semicircular inlet cascade in the centre of the north side of the pool, but the former diving tower in the centre of the south side is missing. Pipe balustrades to the pool and the upper terraces. Concrete and glass screens on east, south and west side of pool are mid-C20 additions. Addition at rear of centre block of similar but less accomplished design with entry to library foyer on east side.

(Architect and Building News: 19 August l938).

Listing NGR: TQ3806402057

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence: PSI Click-use licence number C2008002006.