by Old Plymouth Society
Published March 2012
Predominantly concrete and steel, the Lido is built in Art Deco style. It stands on the site of the 19 century Ladies Bathing Place, which had been provided with a new shelter in 1871, when permission for the Crystal Palace Company to open an aquarium on this site had been refused.
The rocky foreshore of the Hoe made swimming quite dangerous in the late 1800s. 1892 a series of works was approved to address this problem. Steps were cut from the public bathing houses to the sea, more bathing sheds were erected, rocks were cut to form platforms and boulders were broken up to allow bathing at low tide.
1896 demands for more work to be carried out were made by the Plymouth Mercantile Association as they felt that it would bring increased tourism to the town.
1897. The borough surveyor was asked to prepare a plan and a model of a new foreshore bathing area taking in the remaining parts of the foreshore which had been acquired by the Corporation. The plans were not all implemented at once, but by December 1910 some improvements had been made.
1911 A safe area for learner swimmers was created by enclosing a creek.
1912 Sand dredged from the Sound by the Government was off loaded on part of the Hoe foreshore to create a beach.
1913.16 August. New bathing facilities at Tinside beach consisting of concrete terraces, changing rooms and refreshment areas in the cliff face were opened. A pool, buildings and a sunbathing promenade were built at a cost of £2800.
1928 Limestone fronted bathing houses and terraces were built on the western end of the bay. 1930. 27 June Higher terraces and a bridge were built and the first section of the rocky foreshore was levelled and concreted to form a beach.
1933. 14 June Extension of Tinside Bathing Place, including a wide range of facilities including cliff paths and promenade, sun bathing terraces and steps from Madeira Road , as well as rafts and a diving chute. Electric lighting was installed after a successful trial of floodlit bathing in 1932. The work was carried out by the local company Messrs A N Coles (Contractors) Ltd. Alderman R Oke, Mayor of Plymouth used the public address system installed by Mr W Stribley of Radio Stores at Crownhill, to perform the opening ceremony, which included swimming displays and a demonstration by flying boats from RAF Mount Batten. Even this development did not meet the requirements of the people though.
1935 City Engineer and local architect, S Wibberley was called upon to design a new pool. It covers an area of 1.9 acres and is owned freehold by the City Council. The construction works were carried out by Edmund Nuttall Sons & Co, and John Mowlem & Co Ltd. It is a 180 feet diameter, semi – circular pool, complete with 3 fountains which aerate the water. The pool can hold up to 500,000 gallons of water, with a maximum depth of 9feet. It is constructed of mass concrete outer walls – strengthened by counter fort walls, reinforced concrete inner walls, duct walls and floors. Fresh sea water is pumped into the bath through 3 cascades, giving complete renewal of fresh seawater every 4 hours at all states of the tide.
The pumping machinery used for this consisted of duplicate sets of electrically driven pulsometer pumps. The pool incorporated the most modern features, including submarine floodlighting. The lights were controlled from a switch room erected in the north east corner of the bath promenade, the cables being housed under the bathers promenade. Light was projected through armour plated glass panels placed in the semi circular side of the bath and also in the walls of the central cascade. The 2 cascades adjoining the promenade had 3 lights which changed colours.
Outside the south bastion of the pool was a paddling pool for use at low tide. The changing rooms, mens on one floor and ladies on another, were built to compliment the overall art deco design 1935 2 October. Tinside was opened by Lord Mayor Councillor E W Rogers, to coincide with George V silver jubilee celebrations.
Additional bathing and sun bathing features were provided adjoining, and it was thought that great use would be made of the rocks for sunbathing at low tide. It was claimed that the City possessed one of the finest open sea bathing sea centres in the country.
A season ticket for adults cost 10shillings and 6d, (52p) for a child under 16, it was 4shillings. (20p). 1991 It attracted only 12000 visitors and cost £120,000 to operate.
1992 It was closed for health, safety and cost reasons, but sunbathers were allowed to use the terraces until 1995. Swimmers were forbidden because of fears about the electrics and the filtration system. Stalactites were growing in the changing rooms and the E-coli levels were above statutory EU levels. The sea wall was fractured.
1993 Plymouth developer David Walton applied to turn the pool into a dolphinarium, but backed down after protests from animal rights campaigners.
1995 City architects Burke Rickhards unveiled plans to construct a glass front for Tinside turning it into a theatre and sports area with cafes but no pool. This was withdrawn.
1998 November. It became Grade 2 listed.
2003 15 August. Refurbished pool was opened by Lord Mayor Councillor Claude Miller, whose father had been involved with the original pool. It opened to the public the next day, when a season ticket cost £12 for adults and £9 for children. Messrs John Allen & Avanti had won the contract to redevelop the pool at a cost of £3.4 million. The pool was expected to cost the Council £300,000 a year to run. They hoped that 40,000 people would use the pool each year.