Portsmouth historian Jane Smith was intrigued by a recent Remember When picture entitled The New Bathing Beach at Southsea. And it sent her into research mode.
Off she went to the Central Library and discovered that the area, in the 1930s, was known as East Southsea Lido or Southsea Lido. We are talking about a stretch of beach which today is known as Eastney West Beach and Eastney Beach.
Her digging unearthed three cuttings from The News showing the lido from the sea on August 24, 1934; from East Southsea Esplanade on September 5, 1934 and a close-up on August 19, 1936.
Jane says the captions make clear that this was considered to be Southsea’s Lido. ‘In 1934. of course, Hilsea Lido was still in the planning stage,’ says Jane, whose specialist subject is Hilsea Lido.
The original photograph showed striped tents on the beach and Jane adds: ‘In the 1930s these rectangular stripey tents were the last word in beach fashion.’
And she has sent a poster advertising a beach resort in Northern Italy dated 1937, which shows exactly what they would have looked like.
Jane took a picture last month of the beach as it was exactly 80 years on.
She adds: ‘Lidos did not have to be grandiose structures and even the Lido in Venice where it all started was originally just a beach with tents.
‘I can quite see why this area at Eastney was thought of as a lido too. It is sheltered with its own toilets, and the nearest beach to the built-up part of Eastney. Also, Eastney Swimming Pool was used only by the Royal Marines and Hilsea Lido was not opened until 1935.
‘In fact, it could be said that in developmental terms, East Southsea Lido with its rows of tents is the missing link between the beach or pool with minimal facilities, such as the Stamshaw Swimming Pond and the fully developed purpose-built lido such as Hilsea catering for hundreds of swimmers and spectators.’
She adds that in the early 1930s Southsea could boast its own fashionable Lido features ‘but these must have disappeared when war broke out.’