Britain’s Most Picturesque Lidos For An Al Fresco Swim


by Anna Brech |
Published on

In the 1930s, there were countless lidos in use across the UK. These beautiful outdoor pools brought a dash of Hollywood glamour to British summer days.

With slick architecture, carefully curated cafes and the birth of the risqué bathing suit, they were a place for Bright Young Things to see and be seen.

The rise in foreign holidays and squeezed council budgets means a lot of these places have long since fallen into disrepair.

But the past 10 years has sparked a revival for some, with community projects restoring beloved bathing spots of years gone by to their former Art Deco glory.

Here are 12 gorgeous al fresco pools to throw some shapes in this summer. After a hot day slaving in the office, there's no better place to be...

Brockwell Lido, London


Tucked into the corner of Brockwell Park, this 50 metre outdoor pool dates back to 1937 and is Grade II listed.


Bristol Lido


Bristol is home to one of the oldest surviving lidos in Britain, which was first used in 1849. The lively Clifton hot spot features an on-site spa and restaurant.


Hilsea Lido Pool For The People, Portsmouth


Once upon a time, Hilsea Lido Pool was a majestic destination, with manicured gardens, night illuminations and a lido that accommodated up to 900 people.

A huge effort on behalf of the local community has aimed to re-capture this sense of joie de vivre, and the pool is once again a focal point for hot Portsmouth days.


Gourock Outdoor Pool, Inverclyde


Boasting spectacular views of the Clyde Estuary, Gourock lido is a salt water pool heated to a balmy 29ºC. For extra wow factor, book into one of their magical midnight swims.


Sandford Parks Cheltenham Lido


Once a Mecca for bathers in the 1930s, this sumptuous 50-metre heated pool on the cusp of the Cotswolds continues to draw plenty of crowds.


Chagford Swimming Pool, Devon


This delightful pool sits on the banks of the River Teign, and is fed by its soft, natural water. There's a tea shed, parasols and a grassy area for sunbathing.


Ilkley Lido, West Yorkshire


This lovely lido was first open to visitors in May 1935, as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations for King George V. Its iconic exterior remains unchanged and there is still an on-site cafe, which was once catered for by Taylors of Harrogate.


Jubilee Pool, Cornwall


A unique and splendid seawater pool on Penzance's Promenade, this Art Deco structure features Cubist-style changing rooms and sweeping sea views.


Lido Jersey


The Lido at Havre Des Pas sits out on its own man-made island, connected to the shore by a wooden board wall. Its striking white and blue architecture has been enjoyed by visitors for over one hundred years.


Lymington Sea Water Baths, Hampshire


This ancient bath site in the Georgian town of Lymington was once famed for its health-giving waters. In the 1930s, thousands of bathers flocked to its banks over long, lazy bank holidays. The Grade II listed attraction now features kayaks, paddle boards, and water rollers.


Stonehaven Open Air Pool, Aberdeen

Stonehaven Open Air Pool ©Facebook

A fabulous 50-metre pool that is fed by clean sea water heated to a warming 29ºC. There are sessions available for quiet swims, along with midnight events where you can swim beneath the stars to disco music.


Saltdean Lido, East Sussex


With a main building that is curved like the gleaming head of a cruise liner, Saltdean Lido drew crowds of swimmers to its shores in its 1930s heyday. A long-fought local campaign saw the gleaming 40-metre pool re-open earlier this year, after activists warded off a threat to turn the site into apartments.


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