Reopening of Hilsea Lido a step closer after £50,000 cash boost

A MESS The Hilsea Lido in its current condition. Picture: Steve Reid (122230-370)
A MESS The Hilsea Lido in its current condition. Picture: Steve Reid (122230-370)
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PLANS to reopen Hilsea Lido to the public have taken a major step forward – thanks to a £50,000 funding boost.

Sport England has awarded the grant to volunteers at the Hilsea Lido Pool for the People Trust.

The cash will pay for the renovation of the changing rooms, provision of hot shower facilities, and getting the pool operational.

Hilsea Lido Pool for the People took over the running of the lido from Portsmouth City Council in 2008 via a licence and by June 2010 it signed a 99-year lease and began redevelopment.

Since then, through sheer community spirit and hard work, the volunteers have started to transform the 77-year-old site.

The £50,000 is the first big funding injection.

Vice-chairwoman of the trust Helen Downing-Emms said: ‘We got the phone call out of the blue – we were just in total shock.

‘It was great because Sport England told us they think it’s a fantastic project.

‘For us, it’s a huge amount of money.

‘We have never had any funding. All the money has been through fundraising with the odd £100 from small bodies.

‘This is major for us and has come at just the right time.’

Mrs Downing-Emms said the aim was to get the pool full of clean water this year.

She said: ‘We have started to check all the cracks and they are being filled.

‘Then we can paint the pool.

‘Once we have painted the pool, we can fill it with clean water.

‘Then we can start in the plant room. It’s a long process.’

The volunteers are still unsure of the logistics once the plant room is switched on and how much work will need to be done.

When asked if the pool would reopen this year for public swimming, Mrs Downing-Emms said they were making ‘no promises’.

But she said it could be open for watersport activities.

She added: ‘If we have clean water, it can be operational in as much as we can have watersports there.

‘We can have kayaking, scuba diving training, and sea survival skills.

‘We don’t need the level of water quality that public swimming needs.’

The lido opened on July 24, 1935 at a total cost of £36,000.

Getting it reopened this time is not all about hard cash, though.

Mrs Downing-Emms said: ‘Money is a huge factor, but it’s also about community involvement.

‘Whereas the council would spend thousands on getting contractors in to do various pieces of work, we get volunteers in.

‘We get local businesses to provide the materials and equipment.’

The next stage of the project will be to attract funding to reinstate the diving boards, renovate the grounds and bring the fountains back to life.