Hastings Bathing Pool was an open air lido situated behind Sea Road and Seaside Road. Opening in March 1933, it had huge popularity initially, but fell into decline post WW2 and eventually closed, being demolished in 1993. The site now holds underground storage tanks associated with the Southern Water Storm Drain project.
From the air, the design resembled a Greek or Roman amphitheatre, with curved, stepped terracing for spectators on one side and a curved deck for sunbathing on the other. Overall though, the style was functional rather than classical. There were no Doric pillars or classical references. It represented a transitional phase in lido design. At the centre of the pool was an impressive array of diving boards up to 10 metres high, constructed from blocks of concrete. 
On the 27 May 1933[a], the Bathing Pool was opened by Sir Humphry Rolleston G.C.V.O in front of 5,000 spectators, with the mayors of Hastings, Brighton, Worthing, Tunbridge Wells, and, somewhat incongruously, Wolverhampton. It was constructed by Sidney Little for the 1933 Empire Games. At the time of completion, it was one of the largest swimming pools in Europe, measuring 330 feet by 90 feet with a capacity of 800,000 gallons of water and seating for 2500 people. The pool graduated in depth from 2 ft to 15 ft. under the fine International diving stage.
The Bathing Pool staged many National Swimming and Diving Championships, and thus hosted many an International star.Adding weight behind this, Mr T Mather, Empire Highboard Champion 1934 was the manager of the pool. New ways of diving training were introduced, including belts and trampolining. Winifred Gibson of ASA Author fame held her excercise classes on the decks of the pool. In addition, many fashion and beauty shows were held in the pool arena. During 1952, the British Olympic Swimming team utilised the pool for training
It was known to have been used as a storage area for gas masks and other decontamination supplies during WW2. Once peace was declared, it returned to its original usage as a bathing pool and entertainments venue under the name of Parkin's Bathing Pool, admittance being 1 shilling for adults and six pence for children (£2.23 and £1.11 as at 2022 respectively allowing for inflation).
Decline and Closure
Despite the diversity of attractions, the pool was not financially viable in the long term, and it closed in 1959.There were a number of attempts to lease the facility out to third-parties during 1954, but to no avail.The following year, 1960 it passed into the hands of Alderman Sid Withers, who converted it into a down-market holiday camp. It finally closed in 1986 and was demolished in May 1993, some 60 years after it first opened.
1998 Storm Drain
In addition to being utilised as a landing spot for the Tunnel Boring Machine for the Southern Water Storm Drain in 1998, storage tanks were constructed below ground on the site and the site re-instated with turf.
In 2021, the Hastings & St. Leonards Observer announced plans to develop the site to include homes, tourist accommodation, art studios and a slipway:-
“County Gate Properties supported by Generator Group, will work closely with the council and local community to bring forward an exciting regeneration scheme on the former bathing pool and holiday camp site at West Marina. “The redevelopment will seek to deliver on the key objectives identified in the Local Plan to provide a mix of housing, leisure and commercial uses and to attract residents and visitors alike.”
References & Notes
- ↑ http://www.seasidehistory.co.uk/hastings_lido.html
- ↑ British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 27 May 1933 Pg. 0013
- ↑ a b https://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/rise-and-fall-of-st-leonards-bathing-pool-1-7961800
- ↑ a b c 'Lost Lidos'
- ↑ Hastings & St Leonards Observer 23 August 1952 pg. 4
- ↑ An explanation of old currency and coinage may be found at the following website Pre-decimal currency, accessdate: 16 June 2022
- ↑ per Toby Alexander - Historical Hastings Facebook Group
- ↑ UK Inflation Calculator: £0.05 in 1946 → 2022 | UK Inflation Calculator, accessdate: 16 June 2022
- ↑ Hastings and St. Leonards Observer - Saturday 30 October 1954
- ↑ Hastings and St. Leonards Observer: Major redevelopment plans revealed for St. Leonards bathing pool site | Hastings and St. Leonards Observer, accessdate: 13 November 2021
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