the twentieth century society

70 Cowcross Street
London EC1M 6EJ
telephone 020 7250 3857
fax 020 7251 8985
English Heritage
Heritage Protection Dept
South East Region
138-142 Holborn
11th September 2010
Founded in 1979
as the Thirties Society
to protect British
Architecture and Design
after 1914
Dear Sir Madam,
Re: Upgrade request for Saltdean Lido from Grade II to II*
EH Case No: 170882
The Twentieth Century Society wishes to support the recent upgrade request for the above
building, currently under threat from a scheme that seeks to develop the site. The Society
understands that English Heritage is involved in the consultation about the future of the site
through the regional team. The Society, having been involved with the case for the past year,
now considers the Lido to be under considerable threat.
Despite many surviving lidos having been granted listed status, none of them has yet to be listed
above Grade II. An indication, perhaps of the relative age of buildings of this type compared to
the wider listed building stock. The Twentieth Century Society have long regarded all surviving
Lido’s as significant pieces of twentieth century architecture and design, many of the larger
examples were lost before they could be preserved through listing, making those that do survive
all the more special to the nation.
Significance of Saltdean as a Twentieth Century development
The lido, as recorded by the GV in the current list description, should be considered part of a
wider complex of modern buildings in Saltdean1. The other key structure was also by Jones and
is also listed, The Ocean Hotel was completed in 1938 and listed in 1992 at Grade II. The
acclaimed architectural firm Connell, Ward and Lucas, noted specifically for their modern
domestic architecture, built three houses on Wicklands Ave, two of which have now gone.
Saltdean as a place is largely a c20 creation, with the building of most of the areas houses taking
place in the 1920’s and 30’s. Saltdean followed on from Peacehaven as a residential seaside
development by the real estate businessman Charles W Neville. Between 1931 and 1938,
Saltdean increased its number of houses from 103 to 802. Of all the structures that are
indicative of these developments in the 1930’s, none is more significant or less-altered than the
For a complete history of Saltdean see D’Enno, D, The Saltdean Story, Philimore (1985)
lido building. If the Lido had a heyday in the UK, it was the 1930’s and no building better
represents that notion in the country than Saltdean.
Saltdean Lido is therefore part of and indicative of, the wider story of the British seaside resort
in the modern period, forming the centrepiece of the ambitious estate plan for Saltdean.
Saltdean Lido – listing history
Saltdean Lido was the first lido to achieve listed status in 1987, significantly ahead of other key
structures like the Jubilee Pool in Penzance, Tinside Lido in Plymouth and Parliament Hill Lido in
London listed in 1993, 1998 and 1999 respectively. At the time of the influential Thirties Society
report, ‘Farewell My Lido’ in August 1991, Saltdean was the only listed public lido anywhere in
the country.
Uniqueness of plan form
Saltdean is unique in UK lido design. The plan-form of the main structure is particularly
noteworthy with the two symmetrical wings of the main building wrapping round the curved
end of the pool. Building magazine noted this as unique in the typology of lidos in 1938, the year
the building was completed.
“It has a well-shaped curvilinear plan form and in the treatment of the elevations there is a sensitive
appreciation of line and massing which is unusual in buildings of this character”
Comparative analysis
In terms of its elevational appearance, Saltdean indeed has more in common with other building
types of the interwar years. Oliver Hill’s LMS Midland Hotel in Morecambe, Lancashire, 1932-34,
Grade II* listed has similar sweeping arms coming off a central structure and was indeed the
main influence behind Jones Ocean Hotel in Saltdean. More direct inspiration for the Lido came
from another key modernist building, the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, listed
Grade I by German émigré architect Erich Mendelson and his British partner Serge Chermayeff.
The Society believe strongly that although Saltdean cannot lay claim to being one of the earliest
Modernist buildings in the UK, is clearly one of the most accomplished, incorporating the key
architectural elements of both the above buildings and perhaps also those of The Labworth,
Canvey Island, Ove Arup, 1931-2, Grade II listed.
English Heritage’s Principles of Selection guide for Sport and Recreation Buildings, drawn up by
the EH Heritage Protection Department in March 2007 make it clear that the architectural
significance of many lidos lies in the buildings themselves, rather than the pool itself. On page 5
the document states “It is the ancillary buildings that often make for architectural interest rather than the pool itself,
which is generally square, shielded by walls with changing facilities on four sides. More architectural
effects can be found with seaside lidos. [...] They are most common in Devon and Cornwall; those at
Plymouth and Penzance combine modernist design in a dramatic setting, and are among the most
representative building types of their day in their combination of design flair, outdoor leisure and
devotion to the cult of sea, sun and fresh air.”
Saltdean’s uniqueness in terms of comparison to other listed lidos and its architectural standing
when compared, to other buildings of a similar style, but not of type, show that it is unique in
the UK and clearly of more than special interest architecturally. The seaside Lidos of Plymouth
and Penzance, as noted above, are indeed representative of their type, but as pools that sit in
the ocean itself, differ greatly from the purely architectural nature of Saltdean. At Saltdean the
drama comes from the architectural design flair of the building and the natural setting is
somewhat less significant than at the other two listed sites.
For the reasons given above, the Twentieth Century Society fully supports the upgrading of
Saltdean Lido to Grade II*. Architecturally innovative, well-received in the architectural press of
the time and with most of its original features intact and now under significant threat, the lido is
currently the focus of a huge campaign. The Society believe that Saltdean is of more than
national special interest and should be the first lido in the country to obtain the high grade of II*.
The Society underlined the importance of protecting Lido’s in ‘Farewell My Lido’. The report’s
social history and historical background remain relevant, even if information on individual sites
has altered. I have included a complete copy of this document for your records.
Yours sincerely,
Jon Wright
Senior Caseworker
Cc Rebecca Crook, Save Saltdean Lido