Bristol Lido

Bristol, United Kingdom | C.1849

Photo Credit: Meghana Gandhi

Through its namesake, the beaches of Italy brought the Bristol Lido to England.  The Italian word “lido” translating to “beach” in English, is believed to have become an adopted term for pool in Victorian England after the English visited Lido di Venezia, a popular spot in Venice for sea-bathing. Opened in the 19th century, the Bristol Lido has served as a pool and spa in Bristol for over 100 years.

Built in 1849, the Bristol Lido opened the following year under the name Clifton Victoria Baths. Measuring 885-sq-meters, the entire site included a main building, which housed medicinal baths, offices, and a boiler room, with its 250-sq-meter pool situated in the back. Eventually followed the addition of a public house around 1867.

The Bristol Lido continued to serve the surrounding city for decades. Amidst the 1930s, the pool became the first electronically heated pool in the United Kingdom – and remains the oldest surviving heated pool in the country today. However, despite its innovations, the Bristol Lido would eventually fall into disrepair. In 1990 – after nearly 150 years in operation – the pool closed after allegedly springing a leak.

The pool faced threat of demolition for 13 years as the Sovereign Housing Association sought to transform the site into apartments – but its history was far from over. Local residents petitioned to save the Lido and by 1998, it was classified as a Grade II listed building. Eight years later it was purchased by the Glass Boat Company, an established restaurant group in the city.

The Glass Boat Company turned to restoration rather than demolition completely revitalized the pool and its surrounding buildings. In 2008, the Bristol Lido reopened as a pool and spa with a 75-seat restaurant and poolside bar.

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