In the swim

Do you know the swimmers in this photo of Grange Lido, asks Wilson Boow

The search is on for a poster girl with a difference to become the face of a campaign to restore one of the last lidos built in the UK.

Grange-Over-Sands Lido, in Cumbria, was built in the 1930s. Its art deco style was loved by many and brought it grade II listed status but the lido closed in the early 1990s and, though structurally sound, it has been graffitied and fallen into a sorry state.

The Morecambe Bay Partnership has launched a search for bathing belles who may have been pictured in this photograph to help launch the campaign to restore the lido to its former glory and transform it from an empty-shelled curiosity into a thriving tourist attraction and help push Grange-Over-Sands away from merely being a retirement destination.

Next year a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to restore the pool to its former glory will be submitted and the Morecambe Bay Partnership is hoping to track down a bathing belle who used the pool in its heyday in a bid to help launch the funding drive to preserve the north’s only art deco lido.

“There’s a bid to rescue the lido and bring it back into use.”

Susannah Bleakley, chief executive of the Morecambe Bay Partnership, says: “We want to hear from anyone if they or a relative are in this picture.

“There’s a bid to rescue the lido and bring it back into use and we’re looking for a poster girl.

“Without doubt this is the most important unloved coastal building in the North West.”

The bid, Bleakley says, is not just looking to make the lido into a museum piece but a living pool that will appeal to everyone from young families to serious swimmers.

“This is an opportunity to restore the lido but also to look at making this as interesting for as many people as possible.”

The application includes proposals to provide a heated pool, which would hopefully extend its appeal beyond the summer months.

Grange Lido in its current unloved state
Grange Lido in its current unloved state

“A lot of people will remember swimming there – it was brutal,” says Bleakley. “We’re looking at making the most of the structure of the pool. As well as things like night-time swimming we’d be looking at concerts and even the possibility of an ice-rink in the winter.”

Lidos have something of a cult following with swimmers braving the British weather to take the plunge. As well as drawing in locals, Bleakley believes there is a strong chance of attracting swimmers and visitors from across the country.

“There’s a real opportunity for Grange to have a huge boost from the lido and it’s a tremendous opportunity to have a big impact on the bay area.

“There’s a lot of high-spending moneyed visitors to Cartmel and this could be a chance for Grange to think about raising its aspirations.

“It’s going to take a while, even if it’s successful. It would be three years before work would get started and there’s a lot more work to be done but it is a tremendous opportunity and we would love to find ourselves a poster girl, one of the bathing belles, for the campaign.”

If you know someone who may be in the picture contact the Morecambe Bay Partnership on 01539 734888 or Photo: Cumbria Archive Centre

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