Good Causes

Ruth feels the pull of the pool at Saltdean Lido

Ruth de Mello swims at Saltdean Lido three times a week regardless of the weather. As a paediatric nurse at a hospital in Brighton, she finds the regular dips are the perfect antidote to a busy day on the wards.

Ruth, 47, said, “I even swim in the rain sometimes. ’ll be the only one in the pool, but it’s still amazing.”

Built in the 1930s in the art deco style, Saltdean is the only Grade II* listed lido in the UK. The pool itself continues to be a haven for locals like Ruth, but the buildings surrounding it have fallen into disrepair.

Fortunately, a £7.5Million restoration project backed by £4.2Million of National Lottery funding, is returning the site to its former glory. When completed, the lido will boast a poolside cafe, a library, an art deco ballroom, an exercise studio and shared workspace facilities.

Ruth, who began swimming at Saltdean as a child, can’t wait for the restoration to be completed. She has many happy memories of the place and believes the lido will once again become the centre of the community.

She said, “It’s such a beautiful building and it’s being restored exactly the way I remember it.”

Ruth took her first dip in the lido in 1987 after her family moved to the area. She said, “There was a water slide near the front entrance and my grandma – an avid swimmer, but a bigger lady – got stuck coming down the slide. I’ve never forgotten that.

“The year we left school me and my friends spent the whole 6 weeks of the summer here. It was a couple of pounds to get in and you could get a bag of chips and an ice cream at the cafe. We’d go down after school as well and because we knew all the lifeguards they’d let us back in for a quick swim after the pool shut at 7pm.”

Her affection for Saltdean Lido is now shared by her family. Her teenage children and her niece and nephew are all regular visitors to the pool.

Ruth says the pool was a haven during the pandemic during the periods when it was allowed by the rules to open. She added, “When I got back in the pool for the first time after the lockdowns, I immediately felt relaxed.”

If Saltdean Lido had been redeveloped as housing – an idea floated in 2010 – Ruth believes the community would have lost a magical place. She said, “It would have been awful if they’d turned it into flats. I know people who come from all over the country to use Saltdean Lido. It’s a place you can spend the whole day with your family.”

18th July 2023

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