Clifton Lido, designed by Richard Shackleton-Pope, was built in 1854 and modified several times, most substantially in the 1930’s. But in 1989 the City Council closed it as uneconomic and the open air pool, with its timber galleries and changing cubicles and the Egyptian styled entrance building then stood neglected and decaying. Meanwhile redevelopment threatened, and despite a vociferous campaign, demolition had already begun when listing at Grade II* was achieved and the buildings were reprieved.
However, the problem of the viability of the open air pool remained until Arne Ringner, owner of the Glass Boat restaurant, proposed to use a restaurant to support restoration and re-use of the buildings and the pool. In spite of widespread support, it then took nearly a year to obtain Planning Permission before work could begin in late 2006.
Almost all the historic fabric has been retained and restored, while the new work is distinctly and deliberately modern in material and detail. Inside is a bar made of hardwood salvaged from the old Bristol & West HQ and on the roof are 720 solar collectors to keep the pool’s gas bill down. The restaurant is naturally cross-ventilated using the thermal mass of the masonry wall and cool air off the pool stirred by punkah fans and large retractable sun shades to keep cool in summer.
The main façade in Oakfield Place has been laboriously picked clean and restored and the road closed to form a new paved public space.
To quote Mike Jenner in his book ‘100 best buildings in Bristol’ 2011: “The Lido is included here for three reasons: first for its quality as an 1850 building, for which it would perhaps merit 2 stars; secondly as an outstanding example of how the enthusiasm of a few active and intelligent people can overcome bureaucratic obstruction and lack of imagination, and thirdly for the sheer quality of the conversion, for which it merits four stars.”
Since opening, the Clifton Lido has proven to be a huge success, and Marshall and Kendon Architects were subsequently commissioned to work on the Thames Lido in Reading.