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Brighton Journal | 21st February 2020

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Saltdean Lido Needs Brighton Help!

Saltdean Lido Needs Brighton Help!
Hannah Midgley

The much-loved and newly renovated Saltdean Lido has started a crowdfunding campaign to ‘pool resources’ in a hope to start the next phase of the restoration project. Restoring the main building is the next step and is considered to be a near-perfect representation of lido design ‘epitomising some of the best elements of the modernist movement’. The website of Saltdean Lido is a treasure-trove of historical information on the once ‘centre-piece of Saltdean’s seafront’. It describes the lido as being ‘created to elevate Saltdean’s status as a fashionable resort in the competitive 1930’s British holiday industry. Just as the Victorians…had considered a pier to be an essential element of a seaside resort, by the 1930’s, lidos had become an important status symbol for successful resorts’. This is the exact reason why the Saltdean Lido CIC are so keen to get the restorative works into their next stage, so as to keep the lido as a symbol of Saltdean’s heritage and provide an additional attraction to Brighton’s ever-expanding seafront.

The CIC and local residents are working with the Heritage Lottery Fund to secure funding but there are many factors before being granted the money needed. Applications to the fund are competitive, so for the Grade II listed art-deco structure to gain anything they must be able to raise a significant sum of money from the community. The Heritage Lottery Fund are in support of the plans and in addition to the £480,000 already granted they have pledged an additional £4.19 million towards Phase 2. The funding will only be released if the crowdfund goal amount of £104,089 is achieved. Which will hopefully come from local people, which will  prove the support of the reparation and restoration from the community who will benefiting from it. The council have promised £700,000 if the crowdfunded amount is raised and this together with other donations is enough to unlock the rest of the money. The volunteer-led charity behind all of the works managed to raise, against the odds, £3.6 million for the re-opening of the pool and outer area last summer. The renovation of the pool was a complete success with over 40,000 people visiting the historic pool and with a 60-year lease, the CIC want the summertime fun to continue for as long as possible.

This next phase promises a fully-restored poolside cafe which would be open daily for food and refreshments, a 120-capacity space, a ‘spectacular’ new spiral staircase connecting the event space with the first floor tea room and an interactive ‘Heritage Learning Zone’ to support the greater understanding and appreciation of Saltdean and the lido. David Dimbleby said of the project that it is “beautiful and fascinating” and a “particularly fine building that deserves to be preserved for future generations to enjoy”. Dimbleby further elaborated that “swimming pools rarely generate a profit so the cafe (along with the Lido’s ballroom and meeting/function rooms) must be restored to a high standard in order for them to generate sufficient income to cover the cost of operating the whole lido site”. Phase 2 is primarily the restoration of the iconic main building, which according to the official website of the lido the “features of note are the distinctive curvilinear changing rooms and sunbathing decks, which flack either side of the central rotunda. The building facade is reminiscent of the bow of a ship…” The Chair of Saltdean Lido Sally Horrox said “this is a toe in the water really – to see whether the community will help us release phase two of the funding. It’s just a drop in the ocean in monetary terms but is crucial to the future of the lido. Rule changes could mean that the entire project could be sunk if we don’t show that a sustainable flow of funding has been established”.

It will be a real shame if the lido does not secure funding. Brighton has a lot of beautiful heritage sites and this is truly one of them, the lido has been hailed by many as one of the ‘seven wonders of the English seaside’. To have a fully restored lido just 20 minutes from the city centre will be an absolute privilege for every resident in the city. There’s 289,000 of us in Brighton and the surrounding area so if everyone donated just one pound the target will be raised in no time. We have until June so spread the word and donate!

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