Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: November 12, 2019
Webpage updated: April 12, 2020




Bathing in the sea off the foreshore of the Hoe has probably gone on since man first discovered he could swim.  In 1913 a scheme was put forward for 'a bathing pool on the Reform Beach and the improvement of bathing facilities at Tinside Beach'.  The bathing pool cost 800 to construct and the improvements to Tinside Beach cost a further 2,000.  The new bathing houses, as they were called, were formally opened by the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr J W S Godding, JP, on August 16th 1913.  The Mayor expressed the hope 'that Tinside might not always or at all times be monopolised by bathers, but that somehow room might be found for those who loved to watch the many twinkling smiles of Father Ocean or to spend a quiet hour in peaceful communion with Nature.'  Although this development was warmly welcomed by the bathers it was not so well received by the members of the Ratepayer's Association.  

In 1928 the limestone-fronted bathing houses and terraces on the western ends of the bay were erected.  The third stage of the development involved the building of the higher terraces, the bridge and new dressing rooms, which were opened on June 27th 1930.

Plymouth's Tinside bathing area before the final phase of improvements

The Tinside bathing area before the final phase
of the improvements.
From a postcard.

The fourth and final phase involved a wide range of facilities, such as the cliff paths and promenade, the sun-bathing terraces, the steps from Madeira Road, a concreted foreshore to enable young children to go paddling, a diving chute, the rafts, a protection groyne on the western end of the bay, a new approach to the eastern foreshore, modern public conveniences, and a circular extension to an existing groyne to enable bathers to enter the water at low tides.  Electric lighting was also installed at this time, following the successful trial of floodlit bathing in 1932.  The construction work was carried out by Messrs A N Coles (Contractors) Ltd, of Plymouth.

Alderman R R Oke, the Mayor of Plymouth, opened these new facilities at 7.30pm on Wednesday June 14th 1933 using the public address system installed by Mr W D Stribley, of the Radio Stores, Crownhill.

After the opening ceremony there was a mannequin parade, and a swimming display put on by all the local swimming clubs.  The latter started at 8.30pm with a massed entry of 500 swimmers and then displays by the Plymouth Ladies Swimming Club, the Tinside Swimming Club, and the 7'o Clock Regulars Swimming Club.  After that came a display by the Geraldine Lamb's School of Dancing and a demonstration by flying-boats from RAF Mount Batten.  Naturally, the Royal Marine Band, under Lieutenant F J Ricketts, RM, was in attendance as well.

The Tinside area after the final phase of improvements

The Tinside area after the final phase of the improvements.
From a postcard.

However, this did not meet with general approval so the City Council immediately got its Engineer, Mr S Wibberley, to design a new Lido, complete with three fountains or cascades, all floodlit at night and originally going through three colour changes.  The pool was to be a 180 foot semi-circle.   The construction was carried out by Edmund Nuttall Sons & Company and John Mowlem & Co. Ltd.  Mr H Midgeley, the Council's Electrical Engineer was in charge of the electrical work. 

Tinside Pool as it looked in 1934

The Tinside bathing facilities in 1934.

The Lord Mayor, Lieutenant-Commander E W Rogers, officially opened the Tinside Lido at 7pm on October 2nd 1935.    Mr Stanley Leatherby switched on the lighting and water pumps.

Tinside Lido and Drake's Island from the Hoe c1958

Tinside Lido and Drake's Island from the Hoe c1958.
From a postcard.

Tinside Lido changing rooms, males on the first floor

The segregated changing rooms at Tinside Lido,
the first floor being the male preserve c1958.
From a postcard.

Tinside Lido showing the main cascade, c1955.

Inside Tinside Lido, showing the main cascade, c1958.
From a postcard.

The Lido fell into disuse in the 1980s although it became a Grade II Listed Building in November 1998.  Following a feasibility study, Messrs John Allen and Avanti were awarded a contract worth some 3.4 million to redevelop it.  It was re-opened on Friday August 15th 2003 by Councillor Claude Miller, whose father had been involved with the opening of the original Lido in 1935.  He was assisted by 5-years-old Cody Luxton, the son of the Council's Architectural Technician.   The public were admitted the following day.