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Accessible lidos in the UK

23rd April 2018

With warmer weather on the horizon, Britain’s beautiful lidos are starting to wake from their winter slumber. Outdoor swimming pools (or lidos) can be found all over the UK, from the heart of the capital to rural Devon. Many are fed by rivers, some are tidal pools, taking in salt water from the ocean, and some are mineral pools, heated to perfection. Regardless of whether you use a home stairlift, if you’re looking for a new experience, we’ve created a list of accessible lidos in the UK.

Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall



Image: Jubilee Pool

In the most westerly major town in Cornwall, this art deco open air lido was recently given a new lease of life. The pool opened in May 1935, the year of King George V’s Silver Jubilee. Built on a traditional bathing spot at the Battery Rocks near the harbour at Penzance, the sturdy pool is designed to withstand the wild seas on the Cornish coast. For decades, the pool was a popular local amenity, but by 1992, the pool had fallen to disrepair, and despite efforts to keep it open in the years since, in February 2014, severe storms hit Cornwall and the Jubilee Pool suffered extensive structural damage.

Fast forward two years, with support from The Coastal Communities Fund, Cornwall Council, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership’s Regional Growth Fund, Tempus Leisure, Penzance Town Council and The Friends of Jubilee Pool, the lido was fixed and opened its doors to the public again in 2016. As part of the pool’s restoration, disabled access was greatly improved.

Tinside Lido, Plymouth, Devon



Overlooking the sea in Plymouth Harbour, Tinside Lido is one of the most spectacular outdoor lidos in the UK. Built in 1935, the lido is built in art-deco style, not dissimilar to the Jubilee Pool in neighbouring Cornwall, and is grade II listed.

Visitors can bathe in Tinside Lido throughout the summer months and the pool is fully accessible to people of all needs. Relax on the surrounding sun deck, cool off in the beautiful pool and take in the picturesque surroundings. For guests with limited mobility, there is a road-side lift to take you to the reception area, an internal lift to take you to the pool level, a pool hoist into the main pool and dedicated changing rooms and toilets. 

We spoke to the team at Tinside Lido to find out more about the pool: "Opened in 1935 and located at the tip of Plymouth Hoe, Tinside Lido is an iconic landmark in the city. It is owned by Plymouth City Council and managed by the UK's longest-established leisure operator, Everyone Active. Tinside is usually open annually from May through to September, and every year it welcomes in excess of 30,000 people through its doors. It offers visitors the chance to swim in an outdoor, natural-water pool.

"A lift and hoist were added in 2009 to ensure that people of all abilities are able to enjoy the lido. Due to these facilities, all swim sessions that are run at Tinside Lido are accessible, including public swimming and any organised events. 

"Having been voted one of the top 10 outdoor pools in Europe, swimmers and sunbathers travel from all over the country to enjoy its salt water pools and beautiful views out across the Channel."

Hampton Pool, South West London


Image: Hampton Pool

If you’re a keen swimmer and don’t want to give up the enjoyment of an outdoor swim during the winter, Hampton Pool might be your best bet. This heated outdoor pool in South West London is open all year round. It has been well-adapted for those with limited mobility and offers a chair hoist to give access to all. To find out more about Hampton Pool, we caught up with general manager Simon Bailey: “Hampton Pool was built in 1922 with a swimming pool just 25 yards in length along with wooden changing cubicles. By 1939, it was a 40-yard pool with pump filtration and by the beginning of 1960 the pool widened and the current building constructed. The learner pool was built in 1990.”

In the years since, Hampton Pool has been adapted to include an accessible changing room and step-free pool access. The current proposed development plans will add a lift to the roof terrace and café, and improve accessibility in the gym, studio and changing rooms.

“This hidden gem of a pool is situated in a south-facing woodland area on the outskirts of Royal Bushy Park,” said Simon. “There is a grassed area for people to just laze in the sun, picnic and relax between swims, along with a rooftop café. The pool also offers a fully-equipped poolside gym and dry-side classes. The main pool is 36 metres long, plus there’s a learner pool dedicated to toddlers and their parents. The water in the pools is heated throughout the year (people even swim on Christmas Day!)

“Hampton Pool offers a variety of swimming classes for people with additional needs and limited mobility. The pool also has a new mechanical chair hoist, thanks to the money raised from Emily Morris’ sponsored swim of the Cook Strait in New Zealand. This allows access to the pool for customers with walking difficulties.”

Emily Morris commented: “I am so glad that Hampton Pool now has its chair. Hampton is a very special place that should be enjoyed and accessible to all. With the kind donations of my supporters for my swim, this has made the chair hoist possible and now we can all celebrate that Hampton is accessible to the whole community!”

The Pells Pool, East Sussex


Image: The Pells Pool

The Pells Pool is the oldest documented freshwater outdoor public swimming pool in the UK. Set in the picturesque town of Lewes in East Sussex, the pool celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011. This special pool is spring-fed and surrounded by a tree-lined lawn, perfect for relaxing on in-between swims. If you’re brave enough to take a dip during the spring, the pool is open from the beginning of May, but it isn’t heated, so be prepared! There is ramp access to the pool for those with mobility problems, and a wheelchair available to use, as well as a disabled toilet.

Chagford Swimming Pool, Dartmoor, Devon


Image: Chagford Swimming Pool

On the edge of Dartmoor National Park, Chagford Swimming Pool is a pretty, community-run open-air pool, on the banks of the River Teign. The soft river water is UV treated and filtered with minimal amounts of chlorine to make it perfect for bathing on a spring or summer’s day. For those of you who are worried about the water temperature, fear not. Chagford Swimming Pool is now heated with air source heat pumps using solar panels. Families are invited to spend the afternoon at the pool, with a grassy area for sunbathing and tables for picnics. There are disabled toilets available and the area is wheelchair accessible.

Ilkley Lido, Yorkshire


Image: Friends of Ilkley Lido

Situated on the outskirts of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Ilkley Lido is a relaxed and accessible open-air pool. Since being built in 1935, the pool has remained open from May to September each year, and welcomes some 150,000 visitors annually. With a large shallow area for children, and ramped access to the pool, Ilkley Lido is perfect for visitors of all ages and abilities.

Bristol Lido, Clifton



Image: Andre Pattenden

In the heart of Bristol’s colourful suburb of Clifton, Bristol Lido offers one of the most picturesque swims in the South West. Dating back to 1849, the Victorian lido is grade two listed, but that hasn’t stopped the team from adapting it to make it as accessible as possible. There are accessible toilets and changing rooms and the pool (heated to between 20-24 degrees), sauna and steam room are all accessible. The only areas with limited accessibility are the restaurant (although the full menu is served in the downstairs bar), the spa treatment area and the hot tub.

Thermae Bath Spa


Image: Thermae Bath Spa

Although it’s not technically a lido, Thermae Bath Spa cannot be left off the list. This spectacular open-air pool overlooks the UNESCO-listed city of Bath, and offers swimmers a truly memorable experience. Thermae Bath Spa’s warm, mineral-rich waters are considered to work wonders for your stress levels, and your joints. With temperatures sitting at around 35 degrees, you won’t be chilly in this outdoor pool. There are accessible changing cubicles, showers and toilets, as well as lifts throughout the building and hoists for the pools, so your mobility problems needn’t get in the way of this amazing swimming experience.

Thames Lido, Reading


Image: Andre Pattenden

After a four-year restoration project, Thames Lido opened to the public in 2017. A former Edwardian women’s baths, the pool has been brought back to life after 43 years in disrepair. The restoration was undertaken by the same team behind Bristol Lido, as such the décor is somewhat similar, with the pool also heated to between 20-24 degrees. However the Thames Lido’s unique position means that swimmers can catch a glimpse of boaters on the lock and cyclists on the towpath while they take a dip. All areas are wheelchair accessible except the massage rooms. There is lift access to the function room, and there are two wheelchair accessible changing rooms. The saunas, hot tub and pool are all on ground level.

We hope you’re feeling inspired to get out there and take a dip. While it’s important to take care of yourself at home with the help of a home stairlift or other mobility aids, this shouldn’t put you off trying new activities. As you now know, there are plenty of beautiful accessible lidos out there waiting for you.

Image credits: Robert Pittman, Tinside Lido

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.