In recent years it was made very clear by Portsmouth City Council (PCC) that they no longer wished to commit resources for the upkeep of Hilsea Lido, the pool would be closed and PCC would be looking for alternative uses for the site. In response to the closure of the pool a group of local people came together in 2007 with the common desire to save the facility and as a result Hilsea Lido Pool for the People (HLPP)was formed.
HLPP was created to take ‘ownership’ of the Hilsea Lido site, comprising of the main pool, splash pool and Blue Lagoon function suite, with the intention of creating a vibrant cultural scene and attract funding to enable the revival of Hilsea Lido.
We are very proud to be able to say that many of the original members of the group are still actively involved in this developing organisation. In addition we have growing support from both local and national bodies as well as individuals from far and wide.
In 2008 we were the very proud winners of The News We Can Do It Best Community Project.
Initially we felt it was all about fundraising – we’ve held regular raffles, jumble sales, dinners with raffle, a night at the dogs, had family fun days and been part of the National Heritage event ‘Heritage Weekend’ every year since 2009. We actively seek donations and funding from a variety of bodies as well as individuals. Whilst that is still a large part of our project we have come to realise that there is a lot more involved in saving and developing a lido and that by concentrating more on this we will create a self-sustaining future for Hilsea Lido!
In 2009 we became a Company Limited by Guarantee. There is a Board of Trustees who are responsible for the organisation. In addition we have the support of a team of trust members. Early in 2010 we became a registered charity, (reg no 1133714).
During the process the Trust had regular meetings with PCC and on Friday 4 June 2010 HLPP signed a 99 year lease on Hilsea Lido and The Blue Lagoon. Hilsea Splashpool was removed from the negotiations when Portsmouth City Council decided it was life expired and would have to be replaced. The meetings with Portsmouth City Council were an opportunity for the Trust to prove our commitment and ability as a community project and for council officers to offer support and guidance.
In September 2010 HLPP Trust took over Hilsea Lido and the Blue Lagoon function suite.
2010 was also the year we received funding from Heritage Lottery to assist the Trust in celebrating the 75th anniversary of Hilsea Lido. We took part in Paulsgrove Carnival & won the Spirit of the Carnival award, on the back of this success we took part in Southsea Carnival. We also hosted exhibitions, talks and opportunities to share memories at Portsmouth City Museum.
2011 was all about acquiring knowledge, researching, training and familiarisation – we had a lot to learn! Improvements on site were taking place, come rain or shine, with regular volunteer days becoming a feature of lido life.
In 2012 HLPP Trust was awarded funding to assist with the recommissioning of the pool, from Sport England. The pool was emptied, the filthy job of clearing & cleaning it went on throughout the cold, wet & windy winter. Painting the pool took place during the spring of 2013 and early that summer the plant room recommissioning took place. The hard work of our volunteers paid off and we were able to host a Macmillan Swimathon, a gala for Portsmouth Victoria Synchronised Swimmers and a fun day for the Mary Rose School. The Trust also received a small amount of funding from HIWCF to support the provision of free activity sessions for 9 to 14 year olds which took place throughout the summer.
Portsmouth City Council had replaced the old Hilsea paddling pool with a new Hilsea Jubilee Splashpool, HLPP Trust were invited to manage the water quality and site cleanliness & it was great to see the little children enjoying splashing around. HLPP Trust continues to be the chosen contractor of PCC for this facility.
In January 2014 our brave MP, Penny Mordaunt, took part in Splash! the ITV programme, donating part of her fee to HLPP Trust, the media buzz this created for the project was fantastic, with coverage in the Yorkshire Post, India Times & Huffington Post just an example of some of the articles created. July 2014 Hilsea Lido opened to the public for the first time under community ownership – WOW! The season was very successful, with thousands of people finding out what this fantastic facility has to offer. Hilsea Lido hosted PVSC’s second annual gala and with funding from the Big Lottery was able to provide more free activity sessions for 9 to 14 year olds – this time with additional activities, including kayaking, diving, races, competitions & archery. We added to our awards cabinet when two of our team received Points of Light awards from Prime Minister David Cameron, in recognition of their contribution to volunteering. Later in the year Hilsea Lido was also presented with the Shaping Portsmouth Big Business award.
Work is ongoing to improve both facilities, this is challenging as funding is scarce and most of the work is undertaken by volunteers. Great strides continue to be made but often this is not immediately apparent to people wandering by.
We are constantly learning, evolving and growing!
HLPP Trust is working hard to provide an all year round premier venue perfect for a vibrant cultural scene for all the people of Portsmouth and beyond.