Historic Pools of Britain Conference and Launch of The Lido Guide

By Janet Martin.

Along with members of Vivacity Management and our own Lido Duty Manager, Josh, I was lucky enough to attend this event at Woodhall Spa on Wednesday 29th May, which was organised by the Historic Pools of Britain.  The Society is an organisation dedicated to celebrating and supporting the many indoor and outdoor historic pools across the Country, including those fighting for survival or campaigning for the rescue of facilities currently in a derelict state.  Their annual Summer and Winter conferences enable member organisations to network with like-minded organisations, sharing experiences and good practice of pool management and survival – a mission that should be applauded by us all.

As some of you may have seen on social media or the local media, this year’s Summer conference featured the long-awaited launch of The Lido Guide.  Emma Pusilla and Janet Wilkinson have spent twenty years visiting and researching all 126 lidos currently open across Britain, and the book is an absolute must for swimmers who like to swim in different outdoor lidos whenever they visit other parts of the Country.  It provides practical information – for example, disabled facilities, opening hours, etc. – for each destination lido, and really does celebrate the regeneration of outdoor swimming across the UK and Channel Islands.  Peterborough Lido features on page 32 of the Guide and – at least in my opinion – easily competes for a place amongst the best!  

It is becoming increasingly clear that many of Britain’s historic pools survive only through volunteer and/or community effort – indeed the power of community collaboration was very much a theme of the day’s agenda.  In many cases it has been the voice of the community that has made the difference between survival and oblivion.

Other speakers on the day included Joe Stanhope and Phil Bradby, from Woodhall Spa Jubilee Park and ‘Save Grange Lido’ respectively. As well as their 25 metre outdoor pool, the Jubilee Park leisure complex includes a bowling green, croquet and tennis courts, a thriving camp site and children’s play area –all set within beautiful gardens and landscaped areas which are largely maintained through volunteer effort.  A potted social history of the village of Woodhall Spa itself told of the late Victorian/ Edwardian growth of this colonial inland resort, all of which helps to explain the success of the inspiring community-led leisure campus – which adds something near to £1.3m to the area’s economy each year.  Woodhall Spa isn’t a place that you stumble across – sited in the middle of countryside and with no major trunk road access – but it is definitely worth the journey.

Jubilee Pool Woodall Spa. Copyright -Jubilee Pool Website.

Phil gave an inspiring account of the fight to save Grange Lido (which started with a personal New Year resolution that may or may not have been made while under the influence!)  The facility is currently derelict, and the tortuous journey to overcome local authority red tape reminds us – yet again – how lucky we are that Peterborough’s Lido survived the wave of closures that enveloped the country’s lidos during the 80s and 90s. Phil’s determination in the face of many obstacles – many of which still lie ahead – is inspirational, and we look forward to hearing that positive progress is being made.

Our thanks and congratulations go, once again, to the Historic Pools of Britain – another successful conference, and another opportunity to share our love of lidos with like-minded folk.

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