The Bathing Pool at Hastings and St Leonards

Pool life in full swing at Hastings & St Leonards

As the 'twenties changed to the 'thirties, swimming pool design changed from the classical to the modern. Some of the largest of the new pools were built at the medium sized resorts. As early as 1927, a campaign started in Hastings and St Leonards for a new outdoor pool, spearheaded by the Hastings' Observer. A scheme was finally approved in 1931 and Sidney Little, the Borough Engineer, was commissioned to do the building. He was well versed in modern building techniques and chose to build the pool in reinforced concrete. The pool was built on a massive scale - 330 ft by 90 ft: nearly as big as Blackpool's. From the air, the design resembled a Greek or Roman amphitheatre, with curved, stepped terracing for spectators on one side and a curved deck for sunbathing on the other. Overall though, the style was functional rather than classical. There were no Doric pillars or classical references. It represented a transitional phase in lido design. At the centre of the pool was an impressive array of diving boards up to 10 metres high, constructed from blocks of concrete. The pool was opened to the public in June 1933.

In spite of the pool's many contemporary features, commercially it was not a success. Hastings was desperate to attract visitors. The pool was really much too big for the town. The Black Rock Pool at Brighton, built around the same time, was only half the size. Hastings' pool only made a profit in its first year of opening. As early as 1946, the town council tried to find someone to take over a lease on the pool. Eventually it was turned into a holiday camp and was finally demolished only a few years ago.

Taken and adapted from the book Sun, Sea and Sand.