Portobello Open Air Swimming Pool

Portobello Open Air Swimming Pool famous for its Art Deco design, large diving boards, artificial waves and chilly water was one of Portobello’s main attractions for over 40 years. Opening in 1936, it was the largest outdoor pool of its kind in Europe.

The pool was enormous, 330 ft long by 150 ft wide. The one and a half million gallons of water required to fill the pool was filtered from the sea and heated by steam from the adjacent power station.

One of the main attractions was the wave making machine which was the first to be installed in an outdoor pool in the UK and could generate waves up to 3ft high.

Completed open air pool -1936

The pool closed for six years during the Second World War and had to be camouflaged to stop it being used as a landmark for enemy planes.

Portobello Open Air Swimming Pool – 1936

By the end of the 60s Portobello’s popularity waned as cheap package holidays became readily available. The pool fell into decline and with the closure of the power station in 1978, removing what little heat there was for the water. The 1979 season was to be its last and the pool was finally demolished in 1988.

We have just published images on Capital Collections recording the pool’s construction. See these fascinating images in our new exhibition on Portobello Open Air Swimming Pool.

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