Beacon of a broken past: Part of Margate’s historic seafront Lido – where artist Tracey Emin learned to swim – has COLLAPSED sparking fears about the entire structure… despite faded Kent resort enjoying a Hipster renaissance
- Dramatic photos taken after the drama unfolded on Monday show how part of rooftop carpark has fallen in
- Lido was built by John Henry Iles, the creator of Margate’s celebrated Dreamland pleasure park, in the 1920s
- It was a vibrant part of the Kent town right up until the 1970s, when it was last used as a disco
- The swimming pool – where artist Tracey Emin apparently learnt to swim – was finally shut in the 1980s
In its heyday, it was a bustling centre of seaside fun where families would spend hours splashing about.
But now, more than 30 years after it closed, part of Margate’s famous the lido complex has collapsed following heavy rain in the Kent town.
Dramatic photos taken after the drama unfolded on Monday show how part of the rooftop carpark has fallen in on itself, sparking safety fears for the whole building.
The lido was built by John Henry Iles, the creator of Margate’s celebrated Dreamland pleasure park, in the 1920s – when the town was a haven for Britons who went on seaside holidays in their droves.
It was a vibrant part of the town right up until the 1970s, when it was last used as a disco.
The swimming pool – where artist Tracey Emin apparently learnt to swim – was finally shut in the 1980s.
For decades, Margate has been one of the most deprived parts of the country, thanks in part to the decline of the traditional seaside holiday.
However, a recent revival has seen the town become a hub for trendy cafés, antique shops, art galleries and bistros, following an onslaught of young Londoners keen to escape sky-high mortgage rates in the capital.
In its heyday, it was a bustling centre of seaside fun where families would spend hours splashing about. But now, more than 30 years after it closed, part of Margate’s famous the lido complex has collapsed following heavy rain in the Kent town
Dramatic photos taken after the drama unfolded on Monday show how part of the rooftop carpark has fallen in on itself, sparking safety fears for the whole building
The lido (pictured in 1936) was built by John Henry Iles, the creator of Margate’s celebrated Dreamland pleasure park, in the 1920s – when the town was a haven for Britons who went on seaside holidays in their droves
The abandoned Lido site has a long history stretching back 200 years. Initially the site was home to the Clifton Baths, built in 1824.
They were listed in 2008 due to their importance in British seaside history as one of the earliest surviving sea bathing establishments in the country.
The remains of the baths are all subterranean but provide a fascinating reminder of the beginning of seaside tourism.
The Art Deco lido was established in 1926 and was turned into a large modern seaside complex with bars, cafes and restaurants on several levels and a large open-air swimming pool.
These buildings were constructed onto and over the remaining parts of the Clifton Baths, laid out over a series of terraces.
In the 1930s the complex was renamed the Cliftonville Lido.
The Lido Cliff Bar on the site was popular with the area’s alternative and underground music scenes through the 1970s and into the early 2000s, with local bands Deadpan, Company Policy, North by Northwest, Cut Your Own Head Off, and Bread Head taking the stage.
The site is in the hands of administrators Duff & Phelps and was previously run by private firm Stour Side Investments.
Finding a suitable scheme that preserves the history of the site and does not compromise the seafront position has proved tricky.
The artist Tracey Emin learnt to swim in the pool at the Lido. Above: The artist in 2019
It is not clear exactly what caused the collapse, but heavy rain is believed to have contributed. Above: A bird’s eye view of the fallen-in roof section of the car park
A spokesman for Thanet District Council said: ‘The Lido Car Park is privately owned, however, the council’s Building Control team will be installing barriers in the car park and on the coastal path to ensure the safety of the public, and will be liaising with the owners’
The abandoned lido site has a long history stretching back 200 years. Initially the site was home to the Clifton Baths, built in 1824
In its heyday, the pool at Margate hosted the ‘Miss Lido’ contest for several years. Pictured: Pamela Harvey (left), 20, who was Miss Lido in 1953; Daphne Hickson from Barnet pictured at the Grace and Bearing Contest at Cliftonville Lido, Margate in 1949
Scores of people are seen sitting in stands at the Lido in Margate as others take a dip in the pool. The image was taken in 1950
Options have included reviving the Lido and making it mixed use, with retail, food outlets and venue hire.
Even holiday accommodation has been considered, with one father and son developer duo keen to build a 110-bed hotel and 94 self-catering apartments.
A spokesman for Thanet District Council said: ‘The Lido Car Park is privately owned, however, the council’s Building Control team will be installing barriers in the car park and on the coastal path to ensure the safety of the public, and will be liaising with the owners.’
Ever since the early 18th Century, Margate had been a popular tourist destination for people travelling the short distance from London to Kent.
The town was heavily hit during the Second World War, with around 3,000 bombs raining down and destroying almost 300 buildings.
A major storm in 1953 did little to aid its recovery efforts but by the 1960s a good vibe had returned to the town, with families flocking to Margate to enjoy their holidays.
Arguably the main attraction was the Dreamland theme park, the centrepiece of which was the Scenic Railway, but a series of fires and declining numbers led to its closure in 2005.
The park re-opened ten years later following repeated wrangling over its future. Although it then fell back into administration, it did re-open once again in 2017.
Margate Lido in Kent, pictured in 2004 after it had been filled in with sand following its closure around two decades before
Dreamland, the town’s famous theme park, closed in 2003, and after a failed relaunch, reopened to the public again in 2016. Following renewed interest in the town, the park reported its most successful year in 2019 with 700,000 visitors throughout the year. Arguably the main attraction was the rickety Scenic Railway. The Grade II listed rollercoaster opened in 1920, and until the 1990s, each train still had a driver who operated the brakes with a lever.
A general view of Margate beach front on August 10, 2010 in Margate, England. The town went into steep decline after domestic seaside holidays became less popular.
The derelict seafront Arlington Parade on August 2, 2011 in Margate, England. In 2012, more than 40 per cent of Margate’s shops were closed. The concrete corridor, beneath the town’s unsightly tower block Arlington House, was for years home to gift shops selling buckets and spades, sticks of rock and bargain knick-knacks. The arched precinct was always home to the town’s famous Joke Shop.
The town has also suffered for years from high unemployment and child poverty rates, which have hampered attempts to regenerate it. Margate High Street saw many shops close following the construction of the out-of-town Westfield Cross retail park. While the premises near the gentrified seafront area have found new trendy tenants, parts of the High Street continue to wait for the revival to reach it.
The Parade, in Old town Margate with colorful housing, cafes and floral decoration. In recent years, smart boutiques, bistros and cafes have sprung up on the streets leading onto Margate’s beach. Pete’s Fish Factory, established on The Parade in 1984, has weathered the storm, and is now inundated with selife-loving tourists in the summer.
The town received a boost in 2011 when the Turner Contemporary art gallery was opened, attracting visitors from around the country and tourists from abroad. The gallery replaced popular seafront boozer The Ship Inn, the town’s main rival music venue to the Lido, before it destruction as part of the revamp.
After the town went into decline when domestic holidays became less popular, it became a hive of unemployment and broken businesses, with nearly 40 per cent of shops lying empty and a similar number of people living on benefits.
Retail expert Mary Portas famously tried to help with the town’s regeneration by offering her expertise.
She filmed a TV programme there and, in 2012, opened two shops as part of a scheme which saw 27 ‘Portas pilot’ areas around the country receive a portion of a £1.2million pot of government cash to help them regenerate.
The town had received an earlier boost in 2011 when the Turner Contemporary art gallery was opened, attracting visitors from around the country and tourists from abroad.
In recent years, smart boutiques, bistros and cafes have sprung up on the streets leading onto Margate’s beach.
Ian Dickie, the director of Margate Museum, told the Geographical website in 2019: ‘Up until 2010, this place was really in the doldrums. Really from 1970 to 2010.
‘Now tourists are coming back. 2011 saw the Turner Contemporary opening. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
‘Not everybody likes the building or the concept. But it brings thousands and thousands of people to the town.
‘The place is beginning to look alive again. Lots of art galleries around, lots of retro shops.
‘We used to call them junk shops years ago, but they’re retro now.’
The regeneration has recently attracted Londoners who are frustrated by the sky-high rents in the capital and looking for somewhere nicer, and cheaper, to live.
One, Amy Redmond, moved to there in 2014 and subsequently founded the trendy Margate Arts Club with her husband Luke Vandenberg.
She told the Evening Standard: The nature of artist-led regeneration is that we find places we can practice our art, be creative, put on parties and be ourselves, and Margate provides such a welcoming platform to do this.
‘It has a stunning coastline, fresh air, culture, art, history; the town is filled with magic.’
Another, music agent Cecily Mullins, said: ‘I came down to visit and thought I’d rather buy a home somewhere that I enjoy living, with a proper sense of community rather than on the outskirts of London, where I’d be able to afford.’
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