Summer vacations were marred by miserable weather and crowds of staycationers clogging the highways to the coast.
Yet all this has fueled a spike in popularity for public facilities that many believed had passed their sell-by date: the lidos.
“They’re part of the organic, healthy, wild swimming lifestyle that’s so fashionable,” says James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search.
Restored: The art deco Tinside Lido on Plymouth Hoe reopened this year. Lidos can be found all over the country, even in small towns and villages
‘Lidos is a great alternative to the coast and a meeting place for like-minded people. If there’s one around, a buyer would definitely make an offer.”
Lidos can be found all over the country, even in small towns and villages such as Hathersage in Derbyshire and Chagford in Devon.
London has several and some, such as Tooting Bec Lido, one of the longest in England at 91 m, are well known.
“Access to lidos is now one of the key drivers in the decision-making process,” said Plum Fenton, a London market specialist at Haringtons. “That’s why Highgate, Hampstead, Royal Docks and Bayswater are particularly attractive.”
Unsurprisingly, the spa town of Cheltenham boasts one of the most elegant lidos in the country. It is located in Sandford Park, next to the River Chelt, and is surrounded by lawns.
I like meeting up with the other regulars at the picnic areas after swimming
Cheltenham resident, Lindsay Gray
Seven years ago, it was a deciding factor for Lindsay Gray in choosing Cheltenham as a hometown.
“I like meeting up with the other regulars at the picnic areas after swimming,” says Lindsay, 67. “An indoor pool seems boring by comparison.”
Cheltenham is popular with buyers Down From London (DFLs). “They’re drawn to the schools, the festivals and the arts scene and the lido is part of the package,” says Chris Jarrett of Savills. “The housing market is the hottest I’ve seen in 25 years.”
The heyday of the lidos was the 1930s, when 169 were built. Unfortunately, many people closed in the second half of the last century because people had become accustomed to holidays abroad and warm indoor pools.
But lidos are making a comeback that is underway. London Fields Lido reopened in Hackney in 2006 and Clifton Lido in Bristol was back in use in 2008.
London has several lidos, including this one in Tooting, one of the longest in the country
Now one of the most ambitious restorations is underway at Cleveland Pools, close to the river in Bath.
An echo of the Georgian crescents of Bath, this semi-circular lido was built in 1815 and closed in 1984. When it reopens in 2022, the Georgian changing rooms will have been renovated and the river jetty will be re-located to allow people to arrive by boat.
Like Cheltenham, Bath is a favorite with DFLs; 40 percent of the homes there were sold to buyers in London in 2018.
All that Georgian splendor doesn’t come cheap. To live within reach of the renovated Cleveland Pools, a townhouse will cost around £1 million. A two bedroom apartment costs a minimum of £300,000
Lidos are not only found in expensive provincial towns. Pontypridd in the valleys of South Wales – a town more famous for rugby than for its architecture – has a beauty. Lido Ponty has retained its original outdoor changing rooms dating from 1927.
Pontypridd, the birthplace of Tom Jones, begins to attract more buyers. Prices are tempting with the average £250,000 detached house, according to Rightmove.
Tinside Lido overlooks the sea at Plymouth Hoe and reopened in May. It has been voted one of the ten best outdoor pools in Europe. “It’s the centerpiece of the new and improved waterfront,” says Roger Punch of Marchand Petit. “It’s great for families and definitely a big selling point.”
What makes a lido so special? ‘(It) produces a new swimmer,’ Christopher Beanland writes in his book Lido, ‘A fresher, healthier, stronger, mentally cleansed version of the person who arrived with a head full of thoughts but will leave with only one: ‘It’s time to eat cake.’ ‘
That explains why a house near a lido is such an enticing prospect.
On the market… take the plunge