The campaign to reopen the iconic Grange Lido

PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 January 2019

Aerial drone shot of Grange Lido (Courtesy I-Am-Sean - see www.i-am-sean.com)

Aerial drone shot of Grange Lido (Courtesy I-Am-Sean - see www.i-am-sean.com)

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This old Lancashire seaside town is hoping to restore an attraction that could put it back in the swim

Campaign co-chair Darren Milby on Grange promenade outside the derelict LidoCampaign co-chair Darren Milby on Grange promenade outside the derelict Lido

For 25 years Grange-over- Sands has agonised over what to do with its lido. The derelict Grade II listed building has blighted the otherwise attractive promenade that abuts the border between old Lancashire and Westmorland running by the charming seaside town.

But now a campaign to reopen Grange Lido, simmering for seven years, has reached fever pitch and there is real hope of restoring its glory days. ‘It is such an iconic Art Deco pool; there are very few lidos of such quality left,’ said Phil Bradby.

The chairman of Save Grange Lido added: ‘That is why our group is so determined it will be restored rather than being filled in.’ Phil knows a thing or two about saving old buildings. Although brought up in Kendal, he is now based in Manchester where his company Mango Homes specialises in restoring historic buildings.

Grange Lido was built in the 1930s during the boom in seaside holiday resorts in the UK. It closed in the 1993, killed off by foreign package tours and changing attitudes.

The ornate canopy at Grange railway stationThe ornate canopy at Grange railway station

But the pendulum has now swung the other way, with the popularity of the Lake District for “staycations” and with visitors from overseas in the wake of the World Heritage Site status.

The campaign has gained the support of Hairy Bikers star Dave Myers, who grew up in Barrow and was a regular visitor to the open-air swimming pool.

‘The pool was amazing and when it closed 25 years it was a huge loss to the community. I have so many wonderful memories which is why I’m supporting this campaign.

‘I’d love to see it open again, thriving, serving the local community and bringing people to our wonderful part of the world. Let’s get this place back to its former glory.’

The disused lidoThe disused lido

Phil, who also used it as a child, added: ‘There has been a massive national resurgence in outdoor swimming and lidos are more popular than ever.

‘A huge proportion of our supporters have memories of swimming in the lido which is remarkable considering it closed 25 years ago.’

South Lakeland District Council which owns the Lido has long said it wasn’t viable for such a small town but Phil argues it would attract many from further afield. Petitions on paper and on-line clocked up almost 18,000 signatures as we went to print.

Current council proposals involve £2 million to restore the buildings around the site but fill in the pool. These plans includes a cafe, restaurant and a spa.

‘We are hoping to convince them that they should go ahead with restoring the buildings and we will raise the estimated £1.2 million to restore the pool at no cost to the council,’ said Phil.

The Lido has one more huge factor in its favour. It is 165 foot long, which is just over 50 metres. With the proposed new stainless steel lining, it could be exactly 50 metres, an Olympic size that would be of huge benefit for swimming clubs and others.

A crowd funding campaign has been launched to complete the next stage of the project – the production of detailed architect designs from swimming pool experts Studio Octopi.

Darren Milby, co-chair of Save Grange Lido, said: ‘The game changer has been the petition. We’ve been overwhelmed by the huge local support to restore it.’

He points out that the plant room, sea water storage tanks and a rare diving frame survive and could be re-purposed for modern use.

Committee member Pamela Parker, who set up the petition, said: ‘We knew there was a huge amount of support locally to see the pool restored to its former glory, but this petition exceeded our wildest expectations.

‘We really hope the council will listen to the people of Grange.’ TV crews have been shooting a crime drama called The Bay at the Lido and Phil said: ‘It’s great that viewers across the UK will be able to see the historic Lido and the lovely views across Morecambe Bay.

‘Other operating Lidos across the country are very popular as film locations and we expect to bring in some extra revenue once the pool is fully restored.’

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