Sandford Parks Lido


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Keynsham Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 7PU


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Statutory Address:
Keynsham Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 7PU

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheltenham (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A lido constructed in 1934-1938 to the designs of G Gould Marsland for Cheltenham Borough Council in consultation with Edward White. It is complete with all key ancillary buildings including an entrance block, detached changing wings and shower blocks, sun decks, cafe with terraces and plant house. The children’s pool and changing rooms have been altered and refurbished in the late-C20 and C21, and the pool refurbished and strengthened in 2006.

Reasons for Designation

Sandford Parks Lido constructed in 1934-1938 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a remarkably intact example of a 1930s lido built as a confidently designed architectural ensemble in the style of the period with crisp rendered elevations and curved oversailing steeply pitched roofs, and brick detailing; * the lido survives with its key functional ancillary buildings and structures including, highly unusually, its plant room with working boilers and compressors from the original installation, as well as fittings such as the ornate turnstiles to the main entrance, also unusual survivals; * for the design of the café with winged covered terraces representative of the 1930s enthusiasm for outdoor leisure and an important amenity component of the lido.

Historic interest:

* as an evocative reminder of the popularity of outdoor leisure pursuits, particularly in spa resorts such as Cheltenham, popularised during the inter-war period when fresh air, fitness and mass leisure become widely embraced by the general public.


Sandford Park in Cheltenham was created in 1928 on a former meadow to the designs of Edward White, President of the Landscape Architects Association. It was commissioned by Cheltenham Borough Council which, by this time, was actively promoting the town as a leisure resort and making improvements to its public amenities, in response to its perceived decline as an historic spa town. Subsequently, in 1933, a scheme for an open air swimming pool, or lido, was brought forward on land adjoining the park, previously used for allotments and as a refuse area. The plans were drawn up in 1934 by Borough Engineer G. Gould Marsland in consultation with Edward White. The ground was broken by the Mayor Cllr E L Ward on 8 October and the lido structures were built by contractors A Jackaman and Son of Slough, specialists in reinforced concrete work, over the winter of 1934/5.

The lido was opened at a ceremony by Mayor Ward on 25 May 1935 and the café was built the following year. The children’s pool, part of the original scheme, was built in 1938, with a nearby filter room added in the late 1940s. Concrete slabs were laid over the shingle surfaces to the poolside sundecks in 1937. While the pool is visually enhanced by the fountain set at a prominent site by the main entrance, the feature had an important function in the aeration of the water as part of a complex engineered filtration system, which recycles, heats and cleanses dirty water for the health and enjoyment of users. The area to the south of the main entrance was allocated for car parking on plans of 1935 and a tarmacadam surface was made up for the purpose sometime after 1947.

Late-C20 alterations to Sandford Parks Lido include the reordering of some building interiors and the replacement of some fixture and fittings in line with safety requirements and users’ needs. The main pool was refurbished and strengthened in 2006-2007.


A lido of 1934-1938 constructed to the designs of G. Gould Marsland for Cheltenham Borough Council; constructed by A Jackaman and Son of Slough and by S C Morris and Co.

MATERIALS: principal buildings constructed of red brick with roughcast render and brick dressings. The café is on a concrete floor with brick piers. The windows are metal-framed (some replaced with uPVC) and the roofs are covered in Brosely tiles. The pool is constructed of reinforced concrete with later (C21) piling and refurbishment; the fountain of reconstructed Portland stone. The low walling around the pool and to the raised sundecks is of drystone construction using Forest of Dean stone with composite concrete coping. Boundary walls are of brick with late-C20 steel railings. Most hard surfaces are covered in concrete paving although there are areas with stone slabs. There are cast-iron rainwater goods to the buildings. 1930s fittings include turnstiles, panelled doors with furniture and other joinery.

PLAN: constructed to a geometric framework, quatrefoil on plan, based on Beaux Arts principles with Arts and Crafts garden design. It is laid out on a north-west/ south-east orientation with the main axis passing through the centre of the pool between the main entrance and the café. The curved walls of Ladies (east) and Gents (west) changing areas follow semicircular arcs from each side of the main entrance building to shower blocks and former clothes stores set in line with the south end of the pool. To the east is the children’s pool and at the north end is the Café Pavilion with curved roofed terraces or loggias to each side. Lawns and informal planting provide an important part of the original plan.

DESCRIPTION: the principal buildings are in the Arts and Crafts style, of single-storey, and relatively plain in terms of detailing with brick dressings and plinths to roughcast rendered elevations and oversailing eaves to deep clay tile roofs.

MAIN ENTRANCE and TICKET OFFICES: constructed on an H-plan, the central block is the ticket hall and vestibule with two Bailey turnstiles and one intact 1930s ticket booth with timber casements and architraves. The main elevations are of three bays with double round-arched entrance to the centre, set back from the bays to each side. The left and right bays to the front (south east) are set forward and have uPVC four-light casements. To the rear, facing the pool, are uPVC doors and to the left wall is a bronze plaque from the pool opening in 1935. The cross-wings at each end are offices with entrances to the changing areas.

CHANGING AREAS and PAVILIONS: the curved wall enclosures lead east and west from the main vestibule to the pavilion blocks with showers and toilets at either end. The outer walls were rebuilt in the late-C20 when the current plywood cubicles and corrugated roof structures were built. There are rows of fitted C21 lockers to the changing areas and passageways continue around the pavilions to where there are sealed openings for clothing basket deposits, as part of former operational procedures.

The pavilions are on an L-plan with tall hipped roofs and metal casements including a large window with margin glazing facing the pool. The timber panelled doors are part-glazed. The interiors are reordered with late-C20 fittings and partitions. To the frontage each pavilion has an enclosed forecourt shower area with brick walling, railings and stepped entrances with brick coped walls. There is stone paving in the areas around the pavilions.

POOL and FOUNTAIN: 50.3m in length (constructed at 165ft) the pool has been strengthened and refurbished in the early-C21. There are low walls to each side, originally delineating areas for swimmers and non-swimmers. To the south is a circular pool with two-tiered Portland stone fountain. Sundecks to the south of the fountain and east of the pool have low stone walling.

CHILDREN’S POOL and FILTER HOUSE: to the east of the main pool, the children’s pool and its surrounding surfaces were refurbished in 2001. The 1940s filter house to its south is square on plan with a pyramidal tiled roof, timber doors and a metal centrally-hinged casement. The filter equipment is modern.

CAFÉ PAVILION and TERRACES: the pavilion with open-fronted loggias to each side is the eye-catcher from the main entrance and constructed in-line with the centre of the pool, visually enclosing the north end of the lido site. Of double-depth, the building has one block facing south to the pool and a wider block facing north, addressing the park. The central block facing south has three round-arched doors with fanlights and brick keystones in a rendered elevation with parapet and flanking bays that are set forward, all under a deep hipped roof. There are four concrete steps with later-C20 steel handrails, and above the central door reads: CAFE. The loggias extend to each side under lower-height flat roofs and with steel balustrades and round concrete steps to the ends. The north walls of the loggias have replacement uPVC window units. The block facing the park has three central bays with broad flanks set forward to each side, all with margin glazing and brick cills to the rendered upper floor and a semi-sunken brick basement below, accessed by steps to the centre. There are steps to the upper level with brick walling to the right of centre. The left flank (east) has steps to a café entrance from the park with CAFE sign above. The interior has been reordered but retains 1930s joinery and cornices.

PLANT HOUSE: a detached brick building to the south east of the lido complex, it is rectangular on plan under a hipped roof with oversailing eaves and metal windows with hinged central panes. The main entrance is at the south-west end. Original functioning plant of 1935 date includes two cast-iron filter tanks, compressors and pumps to the filter room (south west). There is also redundant machinery including electrical switchgear. The north-east end the boiler room has a lower floor level and further plant and machinery, with later C20 adaptations. The exposed hipped roof structure has weatherboarding between the principals. The early-C21 fitness centre to the north of the plant house is not of special interest.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the varied boundary treatment to the lido comprises 1930s brick walling, C20 railings to the north and east and walling and fencing to the south and west.


Books and journals
Smith, J, Liquid Assets: the Lidos and Open Air Swimming Pools of Britain, (2005), 90-1
Verey, D, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire 2 The Vale and the Forest of Dean, (2002), 243
Lake J, Sandford Parks Lido: Conservation Management Plan (2009) , accessed 13/02/2019 from
Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 13 October 1934
Lake, J, ‘The Aquatic Ape and the Rectangular Pit: Perceiving the Archaeology and Value of a Recreational Landscape’, in May, S, Orange H and Penrose S, The Good, The Bad and the Unbuilt: Handling the Heritage of the Recent Past (Studies in Contemporary and Historical Archaeology 7, BAR International Series 2362 (2012)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.

End of official listing

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