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A guide to Britain's best lidos

Andy Stevens / 23 March 2015 ( 15 May 2018 )

Lidos conjure up nostalgic images of carefree summer family days, splashing around and larking about at packed outdoor swimming pools in the 1950s and 1960s. Here's our guide to Britain's loveliest lidos.

The Jubilee Lido in Penzance
The Jubilee Lido in Penzance © Chris Leather / iStock

Many lidos, among them some real architectural gems built in the 1930s art deco boom, have sadly long since gone. But you'll be pleased to hear that some of the survivors are once again beginning to thrive, as the trend for staycation holidays in the UK has helped lidos experience something of a revival. Here is a guide to some of Britain's best lidos.

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1. Lymington Open Air Sea Water Baths, Lymington, Hampshire

This lido in the swanky Hampshire seaside town of Lymington boasts the oldest sea water baths in the UK, dating back to 1833.

The baths achieved Grade 2 listed status in 2012. And their beautiful location looking across to the Isle of Wight makes them a huge draw for swimmers of all ages.

2. Pells Pool, Lewes, East Sussex

With its tree-lined lawn perfect for summer family picnics, Pells Pool in the historic Sussex town of Lewes is believed to be the oldest freshwater swimming pool in Britain, going back 154 years. You can try it out for yourself from the middle of May to mid-September.

3. Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill, London

This large pre-war lido in south east London has had a chequered but ultimately happy history, having closed in 1990 only to be reopened four years later due after a public campaign to save it.

And now this all-year-round facility, which includes a gym and hydrotherapy pool, is once again at the heart of the local community.

4. Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Refurbished in 2006 and 2007, this outdoor pool in the heart of the Cotswolds spa town is a perfect place to keep younger grandchildren entertained; they will have a ball using the slides and paddling pool.

Its pools are heated to a distinctly agreeable 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) or above. And the landscaped gardens setting provides a delightful backdrop for an enjoyable day out.

5. Tinside Lido, Plymouth Hoe, Plymouth, Devon

A Grade 2-listed treasure which has been lovingly restored - and the stunning location of this semi-circular outdoor swimming venue alongside Plymouth Sound packs a huge art deco wow factor, befitting a lido built in 1935. It has been voted one of the top ten outdoor pools in Europe.

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6. Ilkley Pool and Lido, Ilkley, West Yorkshire

The famous moor supplies the picturesque backdrop to this cold water pool, which is one of the last outdoor swimming pools in Yorkshire. But there's no need to shiver at the thought of taking a cold plunge: there's also a heated indoor pool open all year should the Yorkshire weather do its worst.

7. Wycombe Rye Lido, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

A 1950s lido venue which has benefited from a thorough modern leisure style upgrade. It now includes exercise studios with views of the heated outdoor pool, an indoor cycle studio and a range of fitness classes. 

8. Arundel Lido, West Sussex

Enjoy a gentle outdoor swim or a laze around the pool, with Arundel's handsome castle providing the scenic views. A restored lido, built in 1960, and still keeping that decade's summery vibe when the weather's right. Open from May to September.

9. Stonehaven Open Air Pool, Aberdeen, Scotland

Stonehaven pool has been giving pleasure to generations of Aberdonians for 80 years. No fear of a chilly dip in this Olympic-sized seawater pool either, which boasts that it's often 'warmer than the Med' at a regular 29 degrees C (84 degrees F).

You can also swim beneath the stars in late-night summer swimming sessions. Quiet daytime swims are available too, as are sheltered sun terraces.

10. Chagford Swimming Pool, Dartmoor, Devon

Set in the stunning environs of Dartmoor National Park, this open-air public pool is fed by the nearby River Teign, with the pool’s temperature regulated by solar covers. Chagford pool dates back to 1934 and was originally dug out by hand by residents of the village. Open through the summer.

11. Jubilee, Penzance, Cornwall

After suffering storm damage in February 2014, restoration work began on Penzance’s iconic Jubilee Pool in June 2015 and the pool is now open again. The stunning triangular seawater pool was opened in the 1935 to mark the Silver Jubilee of George V.  It sits on the seafront of Penzance and offers views of St Michael’s Mount from its art deco terraces.

12. Saltdean Lido, East Sussex

The Grade II-listed art deco lido is planned to re-open in spring 2017, according to the website of the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company. Built towards the end of the 1930s – the golden age of British lidos - Saltdean Lido is a stunning art deco seaside lido.

Do you know of any more lovely lidos that we should include in our guide? Email with your suggestions.

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