Saltdean Lido

Saltdean owes its existence to an ambitious property speculator called Charles Neville who dreamt of developing all of the coastal land between Rottingdean and Newhaven. Several extremely fine Modernist structures built by Neville’s Saltdean Estate Company can be attributed to one particular architect – Richard Jones.

R. W. H. Jones was responsible for Saltdean Lido and the nearby Ocean Hotel, which opened in 1938 and 1939 respectively. In Rottingdean, he designed the St Margaret’s block of flats which was completed in 1938. Each has the unmistakable ship-inspired features which define the style.

The Ocean Hotel is now gleaming following a huge conversion project. St Margaret’s has been restored over the past few years during repair works to its steel frame. Now the Grade II listed lido needs attention. Brighton & Hove City Council in fact owns the lido and it is held on a long lease by Dennis Audley who hopes to build over 100 flats on the historic site. This is not the sort of attention that I envisaged!

Fortunately, an exceptionally well organised campaign has been put together by local residents under the banner of the Friends of Saltdean Lido. They hope, and it is an idea that I support wholeheartedly, to fight off Audley’s plans for residential development and, instead, transform the lido into an attraction of which we can all be proud. An entirely appropriate architect, Paul Zara of Conran & Partners, has put together an altogether more suitable set of plans for the Friends.

Sporadic opening hours, poor maintenance, unimaginative use of available space and appalling access currently plague the lido. No wonder it has been underused in recent years. Much greater obstacles have been overcome in the past though. The lido was in fact closed during the Second World War and did not open again until 1964. The northern section of the building was added during the 1960s and includes a distinctive terrazzo lobby and staircase.

I recently bumped into the Friends of Saltdean Lido at the recent Art Deco Fair at Hove Town Hall. Some suitably iconic merchandise has been created including bags, calendars and badges (I’m actually wearing one as I write so they must be cool). Their next outing takes place on Sunday 21st November at the Art Deco Fair at Lewes Town Hall.

There are many ways to help – please see www.saltdeanlidocampaign.org or contact Rebecca Crook on saltdeanlidocampaign@googlemail.com to get involved.