The Lido – its history and role in our community
The Winchester Lido and Sports Club were built in 1934. The beautiful outdoor pool was the hub of the city until its demolition in the late 1970s, while the clubhouse was rescued from the same fate by a group of local volunteers. It has served the community for many years – as a badminton hall (originally with two squash courts as well), a dance hall, bingo hall and music venue ... yes, it even hosted the Rolling Stones in 1963!
The pool itself may have long gone, but this historic venue remains an important and valued community sports facility today. The Winchester Lido Sports Association (WLSA) – registered charity no 1085447 – owns and manages the building, which caters for all ages and abilities, offering badminton (clubs, coaching groups and casual hire), fitness group workouts, gentle movement classes and a ‘sporting memories group’. The building’s dojo (a matted martial arts facility) hosts Judo, Aikido, Katori, jiu jitsu and dance.
However, the clubhouse building is now in need of significant repair and refurbishment. The charity is undertaking a series of works that is essential if the building is to remain structurally sound and usable for the coming decades.
What we've done so far
We reclad parts of the building so it is watertight, the cost of which was met by our charity, the WLSA. We also funded several repairs to the roof and replacement of the boiler. The sports hall flooring has been replaced, due to it becoming significantly worn and increasingly slippery, and the walls and ceiling have been repaired and repainted. The old broken seating in the sports hall was also replaced. Sport England and Winchester City Council provided grant support towards this internal refurbishment – and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue was thriving with a rapidly growing junior club and new groups for older people.
The impact of COVID-19
Sadly, the Lido building had to close in March 2020 due to COVID-19. This resulted in significant loss of income and we were unable to progress any major works. However, we did not furlough our centre manager (the charity's only employee), and this allowed her to support FirstBite in using the building during lockdown, to pack and distribute meals to vulnerable people across the city. Even in the midst of the pandemic, the Lido was there for its community.
To prepare our sports facilities for use in a COVID-19 scenario, we have added a new door entry system, remote monitoring via CCTV, sanitiser stations and signage. These were all funded from WLSA reserves. The building reopened on 10 August 2020, and our users were gradually returning prior to the new lockdown on 5 November. We reopened once again during December, but were then plunged into Tier 4 restrictions followed by the national lockdown – so our worst fears have been realised and we are now closed AGAIN. Sadly, it seems there is much uncertainty ahead.
Why we need your help
We must now progress urgent repairs to the Palladian-style heritage façade of the building. Parts of the wooden soffits and fascia are rotten and several pieces have fallen off – this can be seen from the main photograph above and the images below. Pigeons are now roosting in the exposed space beneath the roof. There is a risk of water ingress here, and also from masonry cracks, particularly at ground level. The cost of the required work is estimated at around £35,000.
In short, the Lido needs some love – and we can't afford to rely entirely on our charity's critical reserves to repair and restore it at this time. Were we to do so, this would leave the Lido very vulnerable given we are now in yet another COVID-19 lockdown, which may last for several months.
PLEASE HELP US SAVE THIS FANTASTIC COMMUNITY BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE! We need your help to restore the Lido building to its former glory. **Any contribution, no matter how small, is welcome and very much appreciated.** THANK YOU! #lovethelido