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.


  1. This would be great to see the site restored.

    Perhaps the poor administration, management, and current debt, might partly explain the extortionate and corrupt car park system.

  2. I remember swimming in the Lido on a hot day when there seemd to be thousands of people thereand remember being suprised it was seawater.

  3. No matter what is said it will eventually become a pay and display public car park , any historical parts will disappear any objections will be overlooked or ignored , it’s prime building land for either seaside flats or car parking or both whilst it’s a car park it’s earning money when we are nothing but dust and all memories gone it will be built on , the money will be squandered on useless short team projects to fill corrupt pockets . Our lovely pier was neglected then suddenly caught fire I would imagine it was insured but gone forever , that’s the way of things now attract people to the seaside fleece their backsides of and squirrel away the money ,

    • What a happy soul you are, Roy.
      Are you a glass half full person or my glass is empty one?
      I for one am most pleased with this progress and hope to see the baths restored in a manner for us all to see and enjoy. Thank heaven not everybody is as cynical as yourself.

    • Blimey Roy you are a happy ray of sunshine, just the kind of person Thanet needs.
      Maybe try being optimistic just once you may like it.

  4. We spent many hours in the Lido pool and loved it have always said it should be reopened and perhap make it weather friedly so can be used all year, loved the centre platform jumping on and off and the entertainment was good

  5. Great news and let’s hope the site can be restored to being a fun attraction – however, it is the way of TDC that it neglects it’s public assets until they go beyond repair. Public toilets, large stretches of the seafront and ciff tops, for example – seems this site is privately owned but TDC has done nothing to protect it and I bet someone in Cecil Square is thinking about how many houses and how much council tax the site could produce.

  6. This sounds good, another piece of Thanets History may be removed from those who would destroy it. I would love to see the site returned to former glory. Many happy memories when it thronged with life and laughter.

  7. But who’s going to put the money up to restore it and for what purpose? If the magic money tree drops more cash on thanet surely the wintergardens would be a more deserving and productive project. By all means restore the lido pool and have some cafe / retail space, but the indoor areas have no real future, beyond some sort of museum. They’ve been neglected and closed for over 30 years and were in a dreadful uninviting state before that. Cliftonvile has a long hill to climb before its ever going to attract large numbers of visitors let alone support a restored public bathes.
    Give it planning permission for flats on the proviso that some elements are retained / restored. But you’ve only to look at pleasurama to guess that you’d be foolhardy to trust tdc to get it right.

  8. Come on Margate. We need something up this end. The Lido will be a fantastic attraction. Margate beach is award winning, Dreamland has got it’s act together, the harbour area is attracting thousands of people. I really hope that this will happen within the next few years.

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