Brightlingsea Lido is a classic 1930s open air swimming pool right on the coast at Brightlingsea, Essex. Run by the community for the community, it is the place for a few hours of family fun or a regular fitness session.
Many pools from the golden age of Lidos (the 1920s and 30s) are no longer in existence and so Brightlingsea Lido is not just a leisure facility but a living part of Britain’s history.
The Lido was opened in 1932, one of the many open air pools built across Britain in the 1930s as healthy outdoor pursuits became popular. Some notable examples include Brockwell Lido in south London and Saltdean Lido near Brighton. In 1930 the local council decided to build the pool as part of a wider scheme of improving the town’s recreation facilities.
A grant for completing the work was obtained from the Unemployment Grant Committee in February 1931 and provided much welcome work for the large number of local unemployed men. Then on 23 June 1932 the official opening of the Open Air Swimming Bath and Boating Lake took place. In October of that year it was decided to fence the swimming pool and build 24 changing cubicles, 12 for ladies and 12 for gents as well as erecting a spring board and small chute.
A fresh start
In the 1970s the Lido was changed from a tidal salt water pool to a chlorinated freshwater pool with upgraded changing facilities.
By 2017 the Lido had fallen into disrepair and was earmarked for closure by Tendring District Council. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated local people, a volunteer group was formed to take over the facility and the relaunched Lido was opened in 2018 with record attendance numbers thanks to a blistering hot summer.
Heart of the Lido
In 2018/19 the Lido celebrated the completion of two projects, made possible by grant funding, which will help to secure the long-term future of the lido. The first project ‘The Heart of the Lido’ merges old and new technology to provide an effective and efficient plant room function. The work included replacing antiquated pipework, refurbishing two enormous filters and introducing state of the art automatic dosing and ultra-violet water cleaning systems to cut down on chemicals and to save time for the technical volunteers operating the plant room.
The latest addition to the Lido’s facilities is a hoist to allow disabled users access to the main pool, along with improved facilities in the disabled changing room.
The second project ‘Café Lido-Community Cafe’ extended the existing small shed-like structure, doubling the size of the kitchen and adding indoor seating and decking areas. The café uses volunteers and hospitality students to provide quality food and beverages to people using the lido, locals and visitors. Income generated by the café is expected to support the lido as a whole.
The works were part-funded by generous grants from the Government’s Coastal Revival Fund and the Essex County Council Community Initiative Fund with additional investment from Brightlingsea Town Council and Brightlingsea Lido Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). The Brightlingsea community has provided significant support for the project through voluntary labour, subsidised goods and professional services.
(Information taken from Brightlingsea Lido website)