Campaigners’ delight as Lido gets extra protection from developers

The historical inner harbour of the Clifton Baths Photo Thanet Hidden History

By Jodie Nesling

The iconic Clifton Baths will be further protected from potential developers following a revised listing by Historic England, according to campaign group Save the Lido.

The decision comes following laser mapping of the area which was completed by Thanet council over the summer after they secured £44,000 from the Coastal Revival Fund for a feasibility study.

Save the Lido leader Lynton Owen says it’s what they wanted to achieve when they first set out to save the historic complex from further disrepair and potential development.

Adrian Handley (left) with project leader Lynton Owen of Save Margate Lido

He said: “The original listing in 2008 was really vague and the laser mapping was undertaken to clearly define the parts that were of historical importance.

“It now means the Lido will be protected against future development – we’re really pleased.”

The Grade II listed baths were constructed between 1824 and 1828, making them one of the earliest surviving seawater bathing establishments in the country.

The circular chamber and tunnel are the only known examples of purpose-built structures intended to store bathing machines and convey them to the beach.

Cliftonville Lido

The baths are also unique in being dug out of the cliffs. From 1926 onwards the site was re-modelled under Dreamland owner John Henry Iles, who helped its transformation into a modern seaside complex with bars, cafes and restaurants on multiple levels and an open air swimming pool projecting into the sea.

It was finally closed to the public in the 1980s and has since suffered years of neglect.

The Ethelbert Terrace complex also includes The Lido bar and snooker hall, which remains open and is owned and managed by Neville Borck.

Stour Side Developments and Stour Side Investments bought the Clifton Baths site, including the car park, for £699,000 in 2014.

Stour Side Developments failed to auction the site in 2016 and the company fell into administration owing debts of £1,337,623.

It is also subject to investigation due to concerns over its business affairs.

The administration period ends in July next year, and Save the Lido cannot apply for funding until the outcome is known. Mr Owen explained: “There’s not really a lot going on at the moment, which is annoying, but this is due to an ongoing dispute with the current owners.

“We were planning to do a display with what we plan, much like what happened with the Margate Caves, but due to Covid this will happen next year now.”

A First Gazette notice for compulsory strike off was lodged with Companies House by Stour Side Investments on November 17. Stour Side Developments continues to be dealt with by Duff and Phelps.

So far the Save the Lido group has managed to clear debris from the site and they hope to one day reopen the council owned outdoor swimming pool and see the area once again thrive as a multi-use site with restaurants, galleries and independent shops.