This film is part of Free

Trip to Hilsea Lido

You can almost smell the chlorine in this delightful film about Hilsea's Lido in the late 1940s - which today is one of the last of its kind in the UK that is still open to the public.

Amateur film 1949 18 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Wessex Film and Sound Archive


This remarkable film from 1949 shows the popularity of public lidos before the era of cheap foreign travel. Large numbers of children and adults can be seen enjoying themselves, splashing about in the water or diving from the high-boards. We see swimming races as well as a water-polo match, followed by some exhibition diving. These are followed by scenes of children playing on a sandy beach while a Constellation aircraft can be seen flying overhead.

Hilsea Lido was opened by Portsmouth City Council in 1935. It was part of a leisure complex which included gardens, a tennis court and an area for roller-skating and dancing. Designed by Joseph Parkin, the City Engineer, in a Modernist style, Hilsea Lido obtained its water from the sea at Portscreek. Before the water entered the pool it was filtered and aerated by the fountains, which can be seen in the film. Nowadays, the water comes directly from the mains. Sadly, the original site was reduced in size by a nearby road improvement scheme though the Lido remains open to this day, having been rescued by the specially formed Hilsea Lido Pool for the People Trust in 2008.