"Probably the most architecturally significant open-air pool in the country".
The 20th Century Society
ARCHITECT: RICHARD WILLIAM HERBERT JONES (1900-1965)
London architect, Richard W. H. Jones, designed Saltdean Lido in the ‘International Style’ – an architectural movement that developed in Europe following the First World War. Importantly, it’s Streamlined Moderne’ design encapsulates Britain’s own modernist and social aspirations for creating seaside architecture for the enjoyment of the masses.
Embracing modernity, it’s architecture is considered to be the apogee of lido design; epitomising some of the best elements of the modernist movement and is regarded by many critics as one of the best surviving examples of lido design in the UK. In 2018 it was named by English Heritage as one of the Seven Wonders of The English Seaside.
Along with its sister modernist building, the Ocean Hotel, the Lido was designed to be the centrepiece of Saltdean’s seafront.
It was created to elevate Saltdean’s status as a fashionable resort in the competitive 1930s British holiday industry.
Just as the Victorians, 60 years previously, had considered a pier to be an essential element of a seaside resort, by the 1930s, lidos had become an important status symbol for successful resorts.
"One of the Seven Wonders of the English Seaside".
This unique Lido was commissioned by the internationalist entrepreneur Charles Neville (1881-1960) to elevate Saltdean’s status in the Golden Age of the seaside holiday.
On Brighton’s eastern border – where the South Downs meets the sea at Saltdean Gap (once the haunt of smugglers) – Neville developed his modern holiday resort in the Garden City model.
The resort was endowed with green spaces, riding stables, tennis courts, access to the sea and plenty of ‘invigorating sea air’. However, in the Golden Age of the seaside holiday, the modernist Saltdean Lido and the Ocean Hotel quickly became the resort’s star attractions and attracted international acclaim.
With modern facilities to rival any pool in Southern England, Saltdean Lido embraced modernity and captured the progressive spirit of leisure time pursuits in 1930s Britain. Meanwhile, it’s sister building, The Ocean Hotel, became the most modern hotel in the UK; setting the template for the resort hotels of the future.
GROUNDS: The exterior grounds include a unique crescent shaped pool tank (measuring 140ft by 66ft) and paddling pool. In 1997, the tank was divided into two halves and infilled with concrete to create an artificial beach. As part of our first phase of restoration works, the CIC re-instated the integrity of the single tank and have recreated the cascade fountain to its original design. The pool is surrounded by sunbathing lawns and can accommodate up to 500 bathers.
THE BUILDING: To the pool’s north stands the main two storey building which houses the lido’s facilities. The external fabric of the building retains most of its original features. These details include distinctive curvilinear wings and sunbathing decks which flank either side of the central rotunda. The façade is reminiscent of the bow of a ship (typical of the streamlined modern style), and uses load-bearing techniques developed in this period to give the design a lightness of appearance. The nautical theme is completed with tubular railings and an exhaust chimney echoing the front profile of a ship’s funnel. The overall scheme by Richard W. H. Jones gave bathers the impression of being on board a ship ready to set sail.
CONSTRUCTION: The construction was fairly radical for its time, using in situ reinforced concrete in the construction of walls measuring only 5 to 6 inches in thickness, and only using columns across wide spans. Brighton & Hove City Council extended the building in 1963 as part of a major refurbishment to incorporate the library and community areas.
THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE