Nantwich has got one. So has Ilkley. London’s got loads of them. Manchester hasn’t. Not one. We’ve got plenty of water but not one outdoor swimming pool or lido. Why not?
We used to. Back in the 1960s, there was an open air swimming pool in Norden called the Riviera. The Galleon Hotel & Leisure Club in Didsbury is built on the site of an open air pool which closed in the 80’s.
Both pools were privately owned but there were publicly owned pools, too, in Philips Park and Alexandra Park.
You can swim at Salford Quays, of course, and many people do, but opening times are limited and it’s geared more to the serious swimmer rather than someone who fancies a dip in the summer or a refreshing early morning swim before work.
If you’re looking for an outdoor swim where you don’t need a wetsuit, you’ve got to travel to places like Ilkley, Hathersage and Nantwich.
Lots of publicly-owned pools closed in the 1960s but there are still hundreds up and down the country. Just none in Manchester.
Why not? It can’t be because of the weather. Granted, we don’t have a Mediterranean climate in Manchester, but if they’ve got one in Stonehaven in Scotland, where they probably get two sunny days a year, why haven’t we?
And it can’t be because there would be no demand outside the summer months because we reckon there are enough keen swimmers around to ensure it could be open all year round as many lidos up and down the country already are.
If there’s no room for a lido in the city centre, why not put it in one of our parks? There’s plenty of room in Heaton Park.
There are few things more invigorating than an early morning outdoor swim and few things more romantic than a midnight swim under the stars. Unfortunately, neither is available to most Mancunians.
So come on, Manchester City Council. Manchester’s got everything but a beach is a great slogan, but it’s not true. Because Manchester hasn’t got a lido.
By the way, it wouldn’t have to be publicly funded. Thames Baths, a community interest company, is trying to crowdfund the construction of a £10m floating lido on the Thames. Why can’t the same thing be done here? If they can swim in the Thames, why can’t we swim in the Irwell?