As the temperature rises, it’s the perfect time to take a swim in one of Britain’s last remaining historic outdoor pools and lidos, like Brockwell Park Lido in London, pictured here.
Fido has been working to promote and help to protect Britain’s historic pools, supporting Victoria Baths campaigner, Gill Wright to achieve her mission of creating a national heritage pools organisation.
Historic Pools of Britain aims to become the leading authority on the nation’s historic swimming pools, recognising the contribution to our nation’s culture that they make, from Govanhill Baths in Glasgow to Lido Ponty in Wales to Saltdean Lido in Brighton. Some are campaigning to be saved, some are thriving, and some are in the process of restoration, but each is special in its own indvidual way. Formally launched by Loyd Grossman in late 2015, the organisation will establish a national database of historic pools, share learnings, give historic pools a collective voice for the first time and explore the concept of destination swimming.
We’re certainly making waves, with recent national coverage including a wonderful overview from Vanessa Thorpe for The Observer and Guardian online and an appearance on the Today Programme.
But, for the simple pleasure of swimming in one of Britain’s fabulous outdoor pools, here’s our 2016 guide:
Ilkley Lido, credit: BMDC Uxbridge Lido
The South West
Tinside Lido and Mount Wise Swimming Pools, Plymouth
Plymouth has two popular outdoor pools, the Tinside Lido and Mount Wise Swimming Pools are open now for summer until 13th September.
Tinside Lido will celebrate its 80th Birthday this year, after it first opened in October 1935 with its impressive Art Deco style. It has been voted one of the top 10 best outdoor pools in Europe.
Mount Wise Swimming Pools is one of Plymouth’s hidden treasures and completely free. The complex of three outdoor pools includes a 25metre main pool, a small paddling pool for younger children and a fun-packed activity pool with a whirlpool and bubble pool.
Dating back to 1849, the Lido in Bristol is one of the oldest surviving in the UK and you can swim all year round here in the 24 metre heated pool. Afterwards have a drink at the poolside bar or dine in the stylish poolside restaurant. Spa facilities are also available.
Brockwell Lido, London
One of the most famous Lidos in London and endearingly known as Brixton’s Beach, this historic Lambeth venue is famed for its strong community spirit and relaxed atmosphere.
The Olympic size 50-metre pool is surrounded by a superb Grade II listed art deco building, housing a state-of-the-art gym and studios. Outside there is a modern cafe for refreshments.
Hillingdon Outdoor Pool, Uxbridge
Formerly known as Uxbridge Lido, the Grade II-listed, 50m, open-air swimming pool reopened in 2010, having been restored to its 1930s glory, complete with its original cascades and a new, heated shallow splash pool for children. The outdoor pool is now part of a new leisure centre that includes an indoor pool of the same size. Out in the open, there’s space to chill by the pool and café for post-swimming snacks.
Lido Ponty, Pontypridd, South Wales
The Grade II listed National Lido of Wales opened to a great fanfare last year and its three heated pools are free to use this summer for outdoor swimming. There’s also a waterside café and a children’s adventure park.
Jubilee Park, Lincolnshire
The outdoor pool and paddling pool at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire is heated to 29°. Surrounding by beautiful gardens, this pool has been run by the local community since 2010.
Droitwich Spa Lido, Worcestershire
An Art Deco outdoor saltwater pool built in the 1930s, this 40 metre pool is open for the summer season and also boasts sun terraces, a wet play area and Lido café.
Hinksey Outdoor Pool, Oxford
Created from the disused filter beds of the Oxford water works originally built in 1854, this freeform heated pool is just ten minutes’ walk from the city centre of Oxford. The pool is situated in Hinksey Park, a wonderful green and watery haven for people and wildlife.
Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham
Situated in 4 acres of landscaped gardens in Cheltenham on the edge of the Cotswolds, Sandford Parks has a 50m pool heated to 24°C and is open April to October. It is a big hit with children for its slides, children’s pool and paddling pool.
The North West
This large 30ft swimming pool was gifted to this small village by local businessman and philanthropist, Mr George Lawrence, along with a number of other recreational facilities and a war memorial. Open year-round to a hardcore fan base of outdoor swimmers and also schools and families, the water is heated to 28°c and there are hot poolside showers, lawns and views of Stanage Edge, Hathersage Church and the surrounding hills.
Nantwich Brine Pool, Cheshire
Nantwich Brine Pool is one of the few remaining inland brine pools left in the UK. Open from May through to around October, the 30 x 15m pool is heated to 22°C and through solar gain is usually much warmer.
The pool facilities such as the changing rooms, were updated in 2012 thanks to a £1.5 million renovation. When the pool is reopened each year, it is filled with fresh water and brine pumped in from a pump a quarter of a mile down the road. It’s very popular in the summer, a cap of 155 people at anyone time for sunbathing or swimming keeps it from being overcrowded and two hours free parking means the one in one out policy gets the queues moving.
Ingleton Pool, West Yorkshire
Located in a riverside setting just down the hill from Ingleton Youth Hostel, Ingleton’s open-air 20m heated swimming pool is an idyllic place to visit for a swim in the North West Yorkshire moors. Managed by the local community, the pool was dug out and built by local volunteers in 1933 and the workers included miners from the New Ingleton Colliery, which closed in 1936.
Ilkley Lido, Ilkley
Designed by Archibald (Archie) Skinner, the town’s Surveyor & Water Engineer, Ilkley Lido opened in May 1935 as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations for King George V and was considered to be one of the largest heated pools in the country. Still standing proudly as its centrepiece, is the original fountain that formed part of the original filtration system through which the water is filtered, sterilized and returned to the pool every six hours.
The outdoor is open from May to September and attracts in the region of 150,000 visits per year. A hot cuppa can be found in the lido café run by Taylors of Harrogate, tennis and bowls and a heated 25m-11m indoor pool also makes this a much-loved local attraction.
Askham Outdoor Swimming Pool and Shap Swimming Pool, Penrith, Cumbria
One of a handful of small outdoor pools in Cumbria, Askham is a 20 metre heated pool in a spacious green area that is perfect for picnicking. There’s also a paddling pool, shower facilities, a pool kiosk for snacks and there’s even a barbecue for hire.
Nearby Shap Swimming Pool is 900ft above sea level and England’s highest open air heated pool. Run entirely by volunteers, this 16 metre community pool is open daily from May to September.
New Cumnock Community Open-Air Swimming Pool, Ayrshire
New Cumnock Community Open-Air Swimming Pool is the only heated Clean Water open-air swimming facility in Scotland.
Built in the 1960′s, it was recently earmarked for closure by East Ayrshire Council. New Cumnock Community Open-Air Swimming Pool Group was formed in January 2012 to take on the running of the Pool so it continues to operate and provide locals and those from further afield with the chance to swim outdoors.
Stonehaven Heated Outdoor Pool, Stonehaven
One of Scotland’s 4 star attractions, this Olympic sized (50m) outdoor pool sits on the coast, just south of Aberdeen. Filled with clean seawater and heated to a minimum temperature of 29°C, it is a popular attraction that was saved from closure by the Friends of Stonehaven Outdoor Pool in the mid-nineties. Free parking, kids swims and midnight swimming to the sound of dance music all contribute to its enduring appeal.
Gourock Outdoor Pool, Near Glasgow
Open year round, Gourock was recently refurbished as part of a £1.8m renovation project to give it modern changing facilities, a new gym and improved disabled access. Now swimmers can dive into this 29 ºC saltwater pool from new diving boards and take part in midnight swims. During the summer there’s the chance to sunbathe on a terraced area or the traditional patio, which both have spectacular views of the Clyde Estuary.