577-1/14/1098 SALTDEAN PARK ROAD
Lido with ancillary building. 1938, designed by RWH Jones in Moderne style, refurbished c1964 and c1997. The 1964 north library and community centre extension is of lesser interest.
MATERIALS: Reinforced concrete with sprayed cement finish painted white. The flat roofs are overlaid with concrete tiles or bituminous felt. Metal Crittall windows with horizontal glazing bars throughout.
PLAN: Symmetrical ancillary building of two storeys with projecting centre and curvilinear wings originally comprising changing rooms to the ground floor sides with central cafe, sun terraces and solarium above. The pool is rectangular except for the north-east side which has an elliptical shape following the curve of the ancillary building.
EXTERIOR: The central block of the ancillary building is semi-circular in plan and the first floor has a projecting concrete canopy with metal pipe railings linking across almost the full width of the wings. The canopy is supported on five slender concrete piers which are carried up as vertical supports or mullions in the glazed first floor walls. The recessed ground floor has tall casement windows and side entrances into the centre of the building. The first floor has 14 full-height French windows. In the centre of the curved fascia are projecting large letters 'SALTDEAN LIDO' and metal railings. Above is a solarium with rounded ends and projecting flat canopy. The curved wings each have four shallow casement windows and central entrances with half-glazed wooden doors to the ground floor. The upper floor of the wings comprises sunbathing terraces with screen walls with cantilevered canopies for shade and have a stepped cornice and curved blank walls to the ends, originally containing chair stores. The north-west elevation wings retain narrow casement windows. The side elevations of the central part have four windows and a recessed doorcase. Its north-west side is now obscured by the 1964 extension.
INTERIOR: The ground floor has lost the central staircase up to the first floor but the sides retain curved concrete staircases. The ground floor retains the original pipework to the boiler room and a door with porthole window, but no original fittings remain to the changing rooms. The upper floor has a large hall with stage at one end, the ceiling beams supported on two rows of plain columns with a parquet floor and the staircase from the first floor onto the roof survives.
POOL: The original three tier curved fountain survives in the centre of the north-east side. The division into two pools, the western a shallower children's pool, with a central snake-shaped path and mast took place in the 1990s.
HISTORY: Saltdean Lido was designed by RWH Jones in Moderne style and completed in July 1938. It was built on the Saltdean estate, developed by Charles Neville between the 1920s and mid-1930s, which offered houses and bungalows in Tudor, Spanish and Italian style and even three Cubist houses of c.1934 by Connell, Ward and Lucas. Saltdean Lido replaced a bowling green and tennis grounds. RWH Jones also designed the 1938 Ocean Hotel at Saltdean (Grade II).
The inspiration for Saltdean Lido appears to have come from contemporary ocean liner and aircraft design and may also have been influenced by the De La Warr Pavilion of 1933-6, by Eric Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff at Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex (Grade I). Saltdean Lido was designed to face south-east towards the sea, featuring a sea water pool with a central fountain on the curved north-east side and a central diving stage on the straight south-west side. There was a separate children's paddling pool, rectangular but with one curved side to the south-west of the main pool. The Moderne style building, set as a backdrop to the pools, featured a solarium, curved central and end staircases and male and female changing rooms in the side wings, each with separate divisions for towels, hangers, 'dressing boxes' and toilets. To the ground floor rear was a large room containing the water heating and pumping system, a fuel store, a staff room and staff stair, the central part of the upper floor comprised a cafe and kitchen and the curved side wings had open sun terraces with chair stores at the ends.
Vehicular access was to the rear of the building and originally there was a boating lake here and an elaborate rock garden was laid out on the western embankment.
After just two summer seasons Saltdean Lido was closed in September 1940 by the outbreak of World War II and the auxiliary fire service moved in, using the pool as a water tank. The male dressing rooms were converted into a temporary church and the female section into a Sunday School. Although the fire service left in 1945 Saltdean Lido remained closed to the public for nineteen years. In 1962 Brighton Town Council issued a compulsory purchase order on the owners and bought it for £20,000. Refurbishment plans were drawn up for £86,000, which included a two storey library and community centre extension which was added to the north-west, covering the site of the boating lake. At the same time the tall chimneystack serving the boiler room was removed. Saltdean Lido re-opened on 4 July 1964. Further external alterations to the rear extension were carried out in the late 1970s.
In 1995 the lido closed again after falling attendances and the need for repairs. In 1997 it was leased from the council for 125 years at a peppercorn rent with repairs to the pool financed by the sale of land behind the lido, on which a public house was built. Saltdean Lido was re-opened on 23 May 1998 with the ground floor of the original building converted into a health club and the upper cafe area rented out to a community association. As part of the refurbishment the main pool was divided into two with a snaking path in between, with a shallower children's pool to the west. A tall mast was erected on the central path.
Architect and Building News, (18 August 1938), Plans published
Brodie, A and Winter, G, England's Seaside Resorts, (2007) 88, 119-21
Building, (October 1938)
Powers, A (Ed.), Farewell My Lido, (August 1991) 13
Smith, J, Liquid Assets. The Lidos and Open Air Swimming Pools of Britain, (2005) 146-51
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
Saltdean Lido, Saltdean Park Road, a Moderne style lido of 1938 designed by RWH Jones is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural merit: architecturally probably the finest lido in England
* Intactness: the original fabric survives substantially intact despite a later rear addition
* Technological interest: constructed of reinforced concrete rather than the more prevalent brick
* Rarity of type: one of only eleven surviving lidos still in use and only three surviving seaside lidos still in use