Our Lido History

Just a few minutes walk from the City center, the Peterborough Lido is one of the few survivors of  the early 20th centuries outdoor swimming pools. Opened in 1936  the Lido or the Corporation Swimming Pool as it was then known, was a striking Art Deco building. Surrounded by gardens and adjacent to the embankment of the River Nene, it replaced the centuries old public swimming area created in the River.The land, two and a half acres, was purchased by the City Corporation from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1927. In 1933 the City Council launched a competition to find a Designer to work on the project. The response came  from a  group of the leading  City’s Architects. They worked together and charged the City no fee.

Late 1940’s photo of the paddling/teaching pool. Note the third pool hadn’t been constructed by this date.

The Lido was officially opened on May 28th 1936 by the Mayor, Councillor AH Mellows, and was followed by a Gala. It was unlike any other open air facility of the time and was of a Mediterranean design. Some said it resembled a Spanish Hacienda or a Roman army camp. Although it was unheated the designers had included all the pipe work needed for a heating system.

Peterborough from above.. Lido 1947
An image of the Lido taken from the air in 1947. From the ‘Britain From Above web pages. https://britainfromabove.org.uk/en/legalities

On June 8th 1940 a German bomb damaged the North-west corner pavilion. The building was restored after the war. Over the subsequence years it faced further vandalism and deterioration. In 1989 the Council’s aim was to demolish it and sell the land to reduce the Councils Poll tax bill. Public opinion kept this from happening. Then in 1991, a fire, left a huge repair bill. The Lido survived again when Councillor Neville Saunders dipped into his own pocket and paid the bill. Its future still threatened after a massive fall in attendance following the opening of the Cities new Indoor facility.  ‘A Save Our Swimming Pool’ campaign was run by the Cities Newspaper, The Evening Telegraph and in 2002 it was refurbished and granted Grade 11 Listed buildings status.

Further refurbishment followed when Vivacity took over the running of  all the City’s pools. A new pool Liner, a new filter unit to filter the water, better showers, refurbished changing cubicles, new lockers and reopening of the cafe.