The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Droitwich Lido, Worcs

The Twentieth Century Society proposed the above lido for statutory listing as an exceptionally interesting and well-preserved example of inter-war leisure architecture. The Lido is claimed as the only inland saltwater swimming facility in Britain – and possibly in Europe.

The matter of listing is now urgent, since the local authority is conducting a fast-track consultation on plans to clear the site for a new health spa development. The Lido was closed in early 2001 in preparation for this scheme. In the Society’s view, it would be possible to incorporate the existing buildings into a development of this kind.

The Droitwich Sea Bathing Lido was opened on June 10th, 1935, offering ‘the exhilaration of open-air bathing with bathroom comfort’. An extension of the existing spa facilities in the town, the Lido was seen as part of an investment programme intended to offset the effects of the depression. The Lido capitalised on Droitwich’s reserves of natural rock salt – the other principal industry of the town. Its ‘Mediterranean’ character was remarked on in press reports of the period.

The design of the Lido was a late – perhaps the last? – work of the landscape architect Thomas H. Mawson (1861-1933), a figure rooted in the Arts and Crafts tradition. In this instance, Mawson adopted the fashionable modernistic manner for the Lido buildings – the main block is a sharply detailed pavilion featuring original metal windows. The original diving board, sadly demolished in later years to meet Health and Safety standards, was a dynamic design executed in reinforced concrete. The whole ensemble is of unusual quality and completeness and, in our view, should certainly be preserved.

Related links:
04/2002 Lido update
09/2001 Bathing belles in peril: Lasting Lidos

Emmanuelle Morgan