The Early Years
Like so many UK seaside towns, the arrival of the railway in 1857, transformed Grange over Sands from a small fishing village to a popular seaside resort lying on the north side of Morecambe Bay, with the promenade developed just after the turn of the 1900s.
Between 1930 and 1939, 180 open-air pools were constructed in Britain and most towns and cities had at least one. Grange over Sands Lido, accessed off the promenade, was constructed in 1932 to designs by the Council Surveyor Bernard Smith. A seaside salt-water lido, it is a fine example of its type, designed complete with ancillary buildings including an entrance block with upper viewing gallery and attached sun decks, detached changing wings, terraces, pump house, paddling pool and stepped diving stage.
Inter-war lidos perfectly characterise the period in their combination of design flair, outdoor leisure and devotion to the cult of sea, sun and fresh air. The original pool was unheated and filled with filtered water taken from the sea at high tide.
During World War 2, most lidos closed, but following the war years, were re-opened and were more popular than ever.
Photographs taken of the lido in the 1930s and 1960s demonstrate its popularity for both swimmers and spectators alike, and depict the original slide and diving boards.
In the mid 1970s a programme of maintenance and repairs was carried out on the Lido, including additional reinforcement being added to the sea tanks, repairs to the concrete beams in the room below the main entrance building, and alterations to the pipework in the subway.
In 1977, the Lido suffered damage by flooding, when high tides and storms led to the sea breaching the outer wall.
Grange Lido pool remained in continuous use throughout almost all of the 20th century, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1982 with a celebration gala. At this time, the pool was evidently still enormously popular.
The Lido closes
From the 1960 onwards, a shift in culture, changes in local government spending and changes to health and safety legislation led to more indoor pools being constructed and outdoor bathing pools declining in use, meaning many were closed, and were demolished, with less than a third of the original number remaining in use by 2005.
In 1993 a report was produced, in which it was made clear that the improvements carried out in 1975 were past their reasonable lifetime and the cost of maintaining the outdoor bathing pool, when compared with the cost of constructing a new one, was considered unfeasible.
Sadly, Grange lido closed in 1993. Since the lido was built, natural shifting tidal currents have moved the sea a distance to the east and it is now separated from the lido by an area of marshland, which covers the former beach.
Following closure, the slide and diving boards were removed.
While various plans were proposed, the Lido remained closed and gradually decaying, although calls were repeatedly made to restore it over the ensuing years.
The Lido is granted listed status
In 2011, The Lido was granted Grade 2 listed status under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
According to Historic England, the lido was granted listed status based on the following criteria:
* Completeness: as a complete example of a 1930s lido with the survival of all key ancillary buildings and structures
* Pool: for the unusually shaped pool, designed for multiple uses and which retains its original stepped diving stage.
* Historic: as an evocative reminder of the former popularity of sea-side towns such as Grange over Sands and the inter-war cult of fresh air, fitness and mass leisure
Support grows for restoration
In recent years, outdoor pools have seen a huge resurgence in popularity. Those that have been nurtured, maintained and developed have seen great return. With imagination and enthusiasm, these art deco gems are returning to grace and serving local communities and visitors alike.
The Save Grange Lido action group would like to see this happen here in Grange. We are developing a realistic business plan for restoration, ongoing upkeep, attracting new businesses and mixed use, all with the pool at the centre of this exciting development.
We strongly believe that, working with the local council and people who believe in this project and availability of funding, Grange Lido, with it’s unique coastal setting, art deco heritage, social and community importance can be returned to it’s former glory, making it an attractive and viable focal point and tourism destination for the town.
FOR A FULL DETAILED HISTORY OF GRANGE LIDO, CLICK HERE