Lidos 'should be listed buildings'

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In their heyday, they brought a taste of continental sophistication to seaside towns such as Scarborough, Morecambe and Plymouth, and now a campaign has been launched to preserve the lidos of Britain.

In their heyday, they brought a taste of continental sophistication to seaside towns such as Scarborough, Morecambe and Plymouth, and now a campaign has been launched to preserve the lidos of Britain.

The Twentieth Century Society wants to save the outdoor swimming pools built in the 1920s and 1930s when the "rush to the sun" meant a week in Blackpool or Whitley Bay. Its campaign, aiming to persuade the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to grant lidos listed status, comes too late to spare those at Blackpool, Morecambe and St Anne's, in Lancashire; New Brighton on the Wirral peninsula and Portobello in London, to name a few.

But the society has enlisted support from unexpected quarters – the writer Julie Burchill has accused councils of "lidocide", while Evian water has provided sponsorship for London's Brockwell Park lido.

Of particular concern to the society are the lidos at Scarborough, on the east Yorkshire coast, and Droitwich, the Worcestershire spa town. A Grade II listing is being sought for the Scarborough pool, which was the largest in Europe when it was built. The seawater pool closed in 1989 and has been under threat since.

Emmanuelle Morgan, a spokeswoman for the society, said the aim was to use lottery funding. Outdoor pools had failed to win sports lottery fund money, so salvation lay in getting them listed, the only route to heritage lottery cash.

"Despite the indifference of generations of councillors, the lido provided the equivalent of today's gym: combining fitness and social interaction," Ms Morgan said. "Health and leisure, key words in the 1930s social commentary, equally informed the architectural language of the period."

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