In August 1935 Matlock's Council were considering whether to build
a new swimming pool in the town centre as part of its expanding
They had opened the boating lake and paddling pool in the Hall
Leys Park a few months before and perhaps there was also an element
of competition as an outdoor pool had been opened at the New
Bath Hotel the previous year. There were other pools, but all
were connected with hydros and were not readily available to
the general public. The Chamber of Trade opposed to the scheme,
seemingly arguing that the rates would increase, and declined
an invitation to meet with the Council and discuss the matter.
It was planned to build the Lido on Imperial Road Gardens behind
the Crown Hotel and
opposite the Bank Road Post Office on "one of the fairest
open spaces in the town" according to Mr. Eldridge, who was
a member of the Chamber of Trade.
Ministry of Health approval of an £11,000 loan would be given
on condition that an application for the removal of the restrictive
covenant attached to the land was successful. This was eventually
confirmed and on 18 June 1936 Matlock Urban Council announced agreement "in
principle"' to the swimming pool scheme as the loan had been
"The luxurious lido at Matlock" was heralded as a "welcome
addition to the many amenities of one of Derbyshire's most beautiful
spas"; it was opened by Brigadier G. M. Jackson of Clay Cross
Hall on 26 May 1938 when he turned the water on. The pre-opening
publicity said the Lido had been built at a final cost of £12,000
(later amended to £15,000 by the Ministry of Health) and
offered "a delightful rendezvous for residents and visitors".
The water in both the open air and covered swimming pools was to
be heated to 72 degrees and continuously purified. Other amenities
included ample sun-bathing facilities, evening flood lighting,
a modern cafe, and adequate car parking.
Parking seems to perhaps have been an unnecessary priority in the
early years as vehicles were non-existent in the top image (which
appears to have been taken around the time the Lido opened), although
they were perhaps referring to the weekend visitors.
The Art Deco Lido building, with the pool entrance behind the woman
who is standing at the road junction
facing the camera. The cafe entrance was behind the three people with
a pram on the left of this enlargement.
A special parade of bathing beauties and diving exhibitions
was included in the programme for the Lido's opening ceremony
The Sheffield paper listed several of those who had provided their
services, with some rather blatant plugs for the local gas company.
Gas, for example, was described as "a reliable and economic
fuel fully recognised at the Matlock Lido, where [it] will play
important part in utility and comfort". The Sheffield Gas
Co. had fitted their latest appliances, with the tea room having
gas radiation, gas heaters were installed in the lavatories and
washrooms and the oil plant for heating the pool was ignited by
gas. The roof was constructed of Westmorland Green Slates provided
by Messrs. William Proctor and Sons, Hall & Co. had worked
on the electrical installations, William Twigg on the steel work
and the stone was provided by Boden (Stone) Ltd. of Stanton-in-the-Peak.
The open air pool was 125 feet in length and 50 feet in breadth
and the Lido could hold 500 bathers. The cafe had roof gardens
(see image 4 below) and there was ample changing accommodation.
It was painted cream and pale green, with splashes of vermillion
on the diving stages, hand rails etc. Michael
Fay points out that the colour scheme was the same thirty years
The outdoor pool in the late 1940s, looking towards the deep
The diving boards and water cascades were removed in the 1970s
when the outdoor pool was
given a roof. The indoor pool can be seen behind the boards.
Further celebrations were to continue on the Saturday after the pool
opened but heavy rain rather somewhat marred the occasion. The
Town's Attraction Committee had arranged a bathing beauty parade,
exhibitions of swimming and diving by members and a polo match.
The bathing parade, with locals modelling some of the latest costumes,
was transferred to the Town Hall and the swimming demonstration
and races were held in the covered pool. Swimming demonstrations
were performed by R. O. Trippett, an ex-Empire 150 yards backstroke
champion, Police-constable Buckley who was an ex-Wester 440 and
100 yards freestyle champion and Mr. J. H. Watson of the Derby
Swimming Club. The water polo match between the Sheffield Police
Club and Derby Swimming Club was a highlight of the day and held
in the large pool as were diving exhibitions by members of the
The Lido's receipts for the first month ago amounted to £334,
of which was £152 for season tickets.
In 1939 the swimming club 's membership was 201, and four galas were
planned for the summer. In the early years a monthly season ticket
cost 1s 6d and admission was 3d, with someone in the town selling
tickets for only 2d.
The club's captain was W. Warren, the vice-captain was K. D. J. Ward
and its trainer was J. Soppitt who
taught many Matlock youngsters to swim over the years. The pool closed
in the autumn of 1939 but re-opened the following Easter.
The pool's shallow end, probably late 1940s.
Greaves' furniture store can be seen on the far side of Bank
There were, unfortunately, two drowning incidents at the pool during
the Second World War and a few years afterwards. In 1943 Clarence
Williams (20) of Lincoln, who was said to be unable to swim, drowned
when there were hundreds bathing
and large crowds watching.
The second fatality was in 1950 when Percival Charles Downes (20)
of Cleobury Mortimer, Kidderminster was found at the bottom
of the pool by Kornel Kibarski of the County and Station Hotel
whilst he was executing a high dive. Kibarski took the young man
to the surface and both he and the Lido's superintendent, J. Littlewood,
attempted First Aid but their efforts were to no avail. At the
coroner's inquest it was said he might have bumped his head, unseen
by hundreds of bathers, and a verdict of accidental drowning was
Post war, the Lido was first used for the Derbyshire Schools'
Sports Association annual swimming gala in 1955.
The same year there was a proposal by Matlock U.D.C. for winter
swimming sessions for schoolchildren.
A few years before this there had been several cases of polio in
the town and some shunned the Lido.
As for the cafe, it seems to have had several tenants during
its lifetime. It was to let in 1950 and in 1955 the then tenant
informed the Council that did not wish to continue with the lease
so a committee was appointed to see if the cafe could become part
of the Lido. At some stage, thought to be in the early 1950s,
a gentleman called Herbert Siddons performed Carmen Miranda impersonations
on the premises, presumably as a cabaret act
The management was subsequently taken on by Mr. J and Mrs. A Simm
who were there until its closure as a cafe. It catered for parties
such as school reunions - Charles White's ex-pupils are known to
have met up there and the scouts held an annual dinner at the Lido
Cafe about 1975. A new roof was installed over the outdoor pool
in the early 1970s. The cafe continued for some years but later
became a nightclub. The cafe was eventually demolished and Wilkinson's,
now Wilko, replaced it.
Advertisement for the pool,
Advertisement for the cafe, November 1976
Shortly before Matlock's Lido closed and the new swimming pool
was built on Bakewell Road, Michael Fay wrote an extremely informative
article about the pool, its history and lidos in general.
Lido: Liquidating a Former Tourist Asset