The chequered history of the Saltdean Lido Saltdean Lido has had a sweet and sour past. Luke Irelan-Hill looks pack at the lido’s history.

The Saltdean Lido designed by architect Richard Jones was opened in 1937 and was hailed as the most innovative design of its type in Britain.

However in 1994, 57 years after it was first opened, the lido was closed by Brighton council. It did not reopen again for four years, until May 23 1998.

The reopening also saw the newly installed heat pump at work with temperatures measuring a warm 71 degrees. It was the ideal place to spend the bank holiday weekend.

The mastermind behind the radical £300,000 facelift of the Grade II listed building was Cliff Collins. He said: “There was some opposition from local residents in the early days.

“But people now seem to have come around and are delighted that the complex has been given a new lease of life.”

In 2000 the ownership of the lido changed with Brighton-based Marlborough Leisure taking over from Brighton and Hove Council. They pledged to set up a community benefit fund.

The company invested £300,000 in the project to refurbish and reopen the facility. A total of £15,000 was awarded to local groups which included a £10,000 donation to the Saltdean Community Association to provide a lift to ensure full disabled access to the centre.

Flats plan

But despite the highs and the lows, the future of the lido never seemed certain.

In 2010 it looked like it would close again, this time for the final time. In 40 years Sussex had gone from having three open air swimming pools to facing having none.

Dennis Audley was behind the plan to demolish the lido by building more than 100 flats on the site.

He believed the weather did not make an open swimming pool viable. He added: “In the early years we would take £60,000 in the open season for three months. Over the past three years it has been more like £4,000 a time.

But 2011 brought fresh hope for the lido as John Penrose, the Minister for Tourism and heritage, approved the upgrade of the building’s listed status from Grade II to the second highest grade, Grade II*.

This meant that it was now seen as a particularly important building of more than general interest.

Community campaign

The decision to protect the landmark building came almost exactly a year after Dennis Audley, tabled the flats plans and a campaign group being set-up to stop the plans and support the existence and protection of the lido.

Rebecca Crook, chairman of the Save the Saltdean Lido Campaign, said: “It’s a wonderful building that we feel represents an important part of our British seaside heritage and we hope that with the new listing in place it can be preserved and safeguarded for many more generations to enjoy.

After months of protests, petitions and speculation, Brighton and Hove City Council agreed a deal to secure the lease back. The council paid £160,000 to secure the lease and a repair bill came in at an extra £200,000.

So, 76 years after the lido was built, it appears that for now its future remains assured, but concerns are currently raised due to its present closure.