EXTREME watersports will be available at Hilsea Lido as the much-loved facility takes its first steps into a new lease of life.
Portsmouth-based scuba diving and kayaking company Adventure College is gearing up to move into the leisure complex on June 27.
It will run its theory lessons from a new classroom – in what used to be the men’s changing rooms – and practical tutorials will take place on the moat, and the pool once it reopens.
Kevan Chippindall-Higgin, director of the Adventure College, said: ‘We’re really thrilled to be moving into the lido, it’s a brilliant facility and it’s heartwarming be part of the reconstruction of something so important.
‘We will now be able to run our practical and theory lessons from the same site and the depth of the pool is perfect for our needs.’
The college will also open a shop next to its classroom inside the refurbished building, which will sell watersports equipment.
Hilsea Lido Pool for the People – the charity that runs Hilsea Lido Leisure Complex – will rent out the space to generate revenue to help with the cost of refurbishing the public pool. The sport is popular in the sea off Hayling Island.
Sabrina Richards, chairwoman of HLPP, said: ‘Our main goal is to offer public swimming but we need money for that – once the Adventure College moves in we will have an income and can focus on getting the pool open.
‘We want to offer much more than just swimming. This place used to be a community hub and we want to recreate that so have been looking at lots of different ways to use it to its potential.’
The organisation hopes to install new diving boards and reopen the shallow lagoons next to the pool and it also wants to rent out space to other watersports firms.
One such company, Southcoast Wakeboarding, already has plans to construct a cable wakeboarding course on the moat and hopes to have it up and running by the end of the month.
Once set up, the facility will allow people to glide across the top of the water on a surfboard while attached to a 200m metre zipwire – making it the longest cable wakeboard in Britain.
Having been given the go-ahead from Portsmouth City Council, Southcoast Wakeboarding is still waiting to hear back from English Heritage before the plans can be put into action.
The firm also hopes to operate five stand-up paddle boards – surfboards that are steered with a paddle while standing – from the site and guide tours along Portsmouth’s coastline.
Scott Sullivan, founder of Southcoast Wakeboarding, said: ‘Cable wakeboarding and stand-up paddle boarding are two of the newest and fastest-growing watersports – to bring them to Portsmouth for the first time would be exciting. And the lido is in a fantastic location for this, it’s a shame it has not been kept up to date but this is the perfect opportunity to bring it back to life.’