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28 October 2014

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You are in: Hampshire > History > Local History > Take a dip in Lymington

Lymington sea water pool

Lymington sea water pool

Take a dip in Lymington

We take a look at the Georgian market town's unique oasis, the historic open air sea water swimming baths.

Walk through the gate into Lymington's sea water baths and with their simple, classic styling you feel like you've entered a 1950's time-warp.

The open air swimming pool which is an acre in size, is filled with filtered sea water sucked in straight from an inlet - and relies simply on the sun for heating.

The baths in the 1930s St. Barbe Museum, Lymington

In the 1930s © St. Barbe Museum, Lymington

The historic outdoor sea water pool is the oldest lido still open in the UK. Dating back to the late 18th century, it was built when sea bathing was hugely popular for its health benefits.

Taking a dip back then was very different to today as Steve Marshall, Curator at Lymington's St Barbe Museum explains:

"Mrs Beeston who pops up in a few guide books for Lymington from the early 1800's.  She was a former owner of the site. She was a fairly significant person in the area and her baths were very well known.

Lymington Lido

It's the oldest lido still open in the UK

"Although Mrs Beeston's baths were on the same site, the pool she ran would have been quite different. Part of it was covered over for people to bath in, and sections of the pool were indoor."

You could have a warm or cold sea water bath with a guide who held bather up with a rope - health and safety Georgian style!

Between the wars there was a big growth in leisure in Britain, people had paid holidays for the first time and started getting out and about much more.

"When you look at photographs from that period, lidos were absolutely packed with people on bank holiday weekends with good weather.

We can assume Lymington saw the same story.  Swimming was a very fashionable thing to be seen to be doing in the 30's" says Steve Marshall, Curator at Lymington's St Barbe Museum.

Lymington Lido

Cooling off on a hot day

If you look closely into the water you'll see that you have many tiny fellow swimmers. The pool is has become home to a of a pod of small crabs and shrimps - so you can do a bit of wildlife observation as well as some exercise.

With its winding river and beautiful waterfront, Lymington has been awarded the title of best seaside resort town.

The town is also historically well known for its salt production in the Middle Ages and then as a port town and trade centre, which brought with it the shady industry of smuggling.

With its waterfront location, it's home to several sailing celebrities including Olympic Medalists, Ben Ainslie and Nick Rogers.

The sea water pool is open daily to swimmers from May to September from 10am to 6pm.  You can find out more about the history of the pool and Lymington at the town's St. Barbe Museum.

last updated: 06/08/2008 at 11:40
created: 06/08/2008

You are in: Hampshire > History > Local History > Take a dip in Lymington

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