Jun 142024

1 Promenade, Portobello, Edinburgh EH15 2DX 

Wooden walkway stretching from tan beach into blue ocean; blue cloudy sky in the background.
Portobello Beach ©Callum Deas

Similar to North Berwick, Portobello once had an open-air lido. Opened in 1936, the distinctive Art Deco bathing pool was the largest of its kind in Europe and had Scotland’s first ever wave machine. In its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of swimmers would meet to swim, use the diving boards, and watch from the spectator stands. A young Sean Connery was once a pool lifeguard! During the Second World War, the pool was closed and camouflaged to stop it being used as a landmark by enemy planes. British coastal towns were declining in popularity as tourist destinations so—just like North Berwick—the pool closed in 1979 and was demolished in 1988.

Black and white photo of pool with people swimming; white buildings in the background.
Portobello Outdoor Pool ©Lost Edinburgh
Sepia photo of young man climbing out of open air pool using the ladder; people swimming, buildings, and trees in the background.
Sean Connery as a lifeguard ©SwimCore

The lido no longer remains but you can pay tribute to Portobello’s history as a place for making a splash by swimming indoors at the leisure centre or outdoors on Portobello beach. If you’d like to learn more about the local history or be inspired by watery nature writing, visit nearby Portobello Books before your dip. 

Open air pool with people swimming; high dive platforms and bleachers in the background.
Portobello Outdoor Pool circa 1971 ©Edinburgh Libraries

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