Otley Lido: Campaign to reopen the outdoor pool for the first time since 1993 includes a retractable roof, gym and restaurant with terrace on the river

Ian Lawton, Sarah Langli and John Hamilton, members of the Otley Lido Friends Committee at the old pool site

The site of the former 30-meter swimming pool on Farnley Lane is, except for a short time when it functioned as a children’s amusement park, has remained derelict and derelict since, with Leeds City Council still standing owner of the land.

Ironically, it took a deluge for a campaign to reopen the Lido to begin when in 2015 Boxing Day flooding destroyed a wall at the site and the Friends of Otley Lido – many of whom were owners who had themselves been inundated – formed. They were successful in stopping a potential sale of the pool, but efforts to raise funds for preliminary studies on the renovations needed to bring it back to life have so far failed.

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The entrance to the Lido, closed in 1993

Now a Crowdfunder has been launched with a ‘now or never’ tag attached and a target of £ 53,000. As Friends president Leonie Sharp points out, the Lido’s plans are achievable, backed by the council – which has offered a lease with free rent for 125 years – and only needs a seed investment for studies. on ecology, traffic and flood risk before becoming eligible for Funding.

The new Lido would be more than just a swimming pool, the income of which alone would be insufficient to operate it without profit. Instead, the Vision includes an upscale gym and terrace restaurant overlooking the River Wharfe. There will also be a cafe on the ground floor, a new green for the bowling club and a public restroom for visitors to Wharfemeadows Park.

“I live three doors down from the Lido, and it has always been a neglected horror in the 20 years since I moved here. In 1993, many outdoor pools were closing, fixing the pump fault was prohibitively expensive and the boards were shifting their resources to newer indoor pools. It was abandoned after Rainbow Park’s lease ended – but it has never been razed and the outline of the pool is still visible. really get a feel for what it used to be like, ”said Leonie.

Other friends who swam there as children remember the long lines to buy season tickets when they first went on sale and a facility that was always busy.

The Lido once had a cafe and basic changing rooms

“It was incredibly popular. People remember it was bitterly cold, but there was a cafe and basic changing rooms. When we put up a fence to replace the wall after the flooding, we included some people’s memories. who loved it, even couples who met there and have been married for 50 years.

“The momentum of crowdfunding has slowed since 2016, so this is the last push to get the money for the next phase; after that we can apply for grants. Our architects and the board told us it was doable, and it’s a deadline that we “We really set ourselves – we’re not under any pressure from the board. We just have to take it to the next step. Planning.

“A swimming pool alone could not survive, which is why we want the gym and restaurant to be the big generators of income. With the renewed interest in outdoor swimming and the resurgence of lido restorations, if not now, when is the perfect time. “

Plans include a carbon neutral site with sustainable heat sources – under study, a hydroelectric project using the river, solar panels, geothermal energy and even gym equipment to generate electricity. The restored swimming pool would be another 30 meters and would be fully heated, with a retractable roof and downstairs changing rooms that can be easily cleaned in the event of future flooding.

The site has never been redeveloped and the outline of the swimming pool is still visible

The Friends are keenly aware of the needs of different user groups and plan to use the Lido to meet the long waiting lists for children’s swimming lessons in the area. The pool would be used by schools, seniors, triathlon clubs, divers, adult lane swimmers and people with disabilities in designated sessions.

“We’re only a few miles from Ilkley Lido, but we think having two pools will generate more interest. They will have different offers and will complement each other.

“We already have a third of our target figure in the bank, and there are other promises that will take effect when we hit certain thresholds. Otley City Council has pledged £ 5,000 and a local GP has pledged the same amount.

“We’re now £ 4,500 on the new appeal, which has a six-week deadline – it’s just a matter of bringing together that middle part of the funding. We’re also in discussions with local businesses giving away prizes in exchange for pledges. .

Otley Lido in 1960

“It’s really now or never.”

Children play at the Lido in the 1960s
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