Sandford Parks Lido is one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in the UK, set in landscaped gardens in Cheltenham, England. The Lido consists of a 50-metre main pool (with reserved lanes), a children's pool, and paddling pool. All the pools are heated to over 70 °F (21 °C).
On 1 April 1996 a charitable trust, Sandford Lido Limited, took over operational control of Sandford Parks Lido signing a 25-year lease with Cheltenham Borough Council and is open to the general public from May to the end of September each year.
Sandford Parks Lido was opened on 25 May 1935, the ceremony started at 3pm with a procession of open-top motor cars travelling from the Municipal Offices to the Lido, carrying the Mayor of Cheltenham and his wife, along with dignitaries from neighbouring cities and towns.
The heating of the pool was a unique feature and one of the first tasks of the staff was to stoke the coal fire boiler. As many Lidos in the country remain unheated, first-time visitors to Sandford Parks Lido are often surprised that the pool water is heated.
After the opening of the indoor swimming facilities in Cheltenham the future of the Lido came into question. There were times when the Lido would break even or show a slight surplus, however after a poor summer in 1982 the Lido faced the first calls to close or to sell the site. Lido friends rallied round, a public petition was organised and the Lido was protected for the next few years.
By the early 1990s the Lido was under considerable threat again. Cheltenham Borough Council had carried out a feasibility study of the complex including a radar survey of both pools. The radar survey confirmed that both pools were on unstable ground and the repairs had failed. Structurally they gave the main pool a life expectancy of only ten years.
In negotiation with Cheltenham Borough Council a way forward was developed and by 1996 a charitable Trust had been formed with members of the Friends of the Lido. On 1 April 1996 the trust took over operational control
The Charity has invested over £370,000 on refurbishment and site improvements since taking control and by 2005, £250,000 had been raised from direct donations. Together with £50,000 from Gloucestershire Environmental Trust with Landfill Tax contributions from Cory Environmental Ltd and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £382,500, work was able to commence in September 2006 on the main pool refurbishment project.
The refurbishment project will stabilise the main pool structure and refresh the pool deck and promenade paving. Work was expected to be completed in May, ready for the 2007 summer season but the reopening eventually was confirmed as 11 August 2007.
Following the 2007 United Kingdom floods the opening of the pool was further delayed pending confirmation from Severn Trent Water authority that the water supply was clean enough to be used. The pool was finally opened on Wednesday 15 August 2007.
14 April 2011 Sandford Parks Lido won the Cheltenham Civic Awards for the restoration works. "The judges were impressed with the attention to the restoration of the detail of this important heritage facility within Cheltenham...Its exemplary status within English Heritage is testament to the value of the restoration work." Owner: Cheltenham Borough Council, Commissioner: Sandford Lido Limited, Conservation Manager: Jeremy Lake, Project Manager: Planet Building Design Limited, Contractor: Grimshaw Group.