LIDOS IN LONDON - open for swimming

This webpage has moved to

Compiled and edited by
Oliver Merrington,
Waterbeach, Cambridge

with the assistance of Andy Hoines and other members of the Lidos History Society (Yahoo Group).
Part of the award-winning website.

See my other webpage on those Lidos in the London area no longer open.

The purpose of this webpage was to provide a historical background to those lidos in London built in the 1920s and 1930s, and, as a bonus, to provide enough detail on these and other open-air pools still open, for potential visitors.

My other webpages are:

For a detailed history of lidos in London, see Janet Smith's book.


Brockwell Lido
Charlton Lido (currently closed for refurbishment)
Ealing Village Pool (private, for the use of residents only)
Finchley Lido and Leisure Centre
Hampstead Mixed Pond
Highgate Ponds
Hampton Heated Open Air Pool
Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex, was Uxbridge Lido (opened May 2010)
Hornsey: Park Road Pools
London Fields Lido, Hackney [reopened October 2006]
Loughton: Kings Oak swimming pool High Beach, Essex [now a private hotel pool]
Oasis Swimming Pools, Central London
Parliament Hill Lido
Richmond Pools in the Park
Ruislip Lido (a reservoir), Hillingdon [swimming may be permitted again soon] The Serpentine Lido
Tooting Bec Lido
Trent Park Open-Air Pool [closed in 2012]
Uxbridge Lido (reopened May 2010)

Brockwell Lido

Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PA
Tel: 0207 274 3088

Opened in July 1937, this Grade II lido was designed by H A Rowbotham and T L Smithson, architects in the LCC Parks Department. It formed an identical pair with the pool in Victoria Park, Hackney opened the previous year (now demolished). It replaced an older bathing pond on the other side of the park (details to follow). The Beach café is separate.

It was the subject of a BBC Modern Times documentary "Lido" about the pleasures of beach life in the heart of London's inner city.
"During one of the hottest summers on record, thousands flocked to Brockwell Park Lido to strip off and bare all. A rich mix of modern Britons sat side-by-side, semi-naked, dreaming, exercising and body watching. And for some couples, the lido is a place to fall in love".
"Lido" by Lucy Blakstad, BBC, 1996 (50 mins).

In 2001 Evian promised a £100K-a-year sponsorship for two years, but the second-year contribution in 2002 was cut to £10K. Also in 2001 The Brockwell Lido Users group was set up.

In 2003 Lambeth Council reviewed the operation and management of the Lido and issued a report outlining different management options, including complete demolition and grassing-over of the Lido.
8 August 2003: Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced Grade II listing of the Lido in Brockwell Park.

In March 2003 Lambeth Council voted to award Fusion a 25-year lease on Brockwell Lido. Fusion operates thirteen health and leisure centres within Southwark and Lambeth, as well as working with schools. In December the same year planning and listed building permissions were granted for the refurbishment and extension proposed by Fusion's architects, Pollard Thomas Edwards (PTEa). Additional funding was confirmed by the Heritage Lottery Fund in December 2004.

2005: The pool was sandblasted and repainted ready for re-opening in July 2005.
2006: Construction work (see above) started in the Spring, but the pool reopened as usual.
PTEa were co-organisers of the Reviving Lidos conference in London, March 2006.
2007: The lido fully reopens after refurbishment and extension.

A book Out of the Blue: a celebration of 1937-2007 by Peter Bradley and others, was published in 2007 (ISBN: 978-095562702).

See also Janet Smith's book, page 138-141.

One of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002)

Charlton Lido (currently closed, except to club members)

Shooters Hill Road, London SE18 4LX

Photograph © Greenwich Council
CharltonThis unheated lido was opened on 6 May 1939, the last to be built by the London County Council (LCC). The main pool is 165 ft long and 66 ft wide, with the depth varying from 2ft 6ins to 9ft. There is also a 66 x 20 ft children's pool. It closed for refurbishment in 2007.

Hornfair Park in Charlton, a total area of approximately 26 acres, was purchased by the LCC in 1926, originally intended for housing. However is proved to be surplus to requirements and in 1935, the LCC Parks Department paid £12,000 to the LCC Housing Department and took over the site to become a public park. The park was opened as “Charlton Playing Fields” in 1936.

Andy Hoines writes:
"The four late 1930s LCC lidos at at Parliament Hill, Victoria Park, Brockwell Park and Charlton were architecturally and structurally similar, being all solidly constructed of red brick. They all had symmetrical wings of undercover changing cubicles for males and females. The water was filtered, aerated and sterilised. Diving boards and slides were provided. Increasing space was dedicated to the leisure uses of these facilities, with facilities such as cafes and sun bathing areas gaining increasing prominence. Stout walls were constructed around the entire pool site to keep out non-customers and provide a windbreak and suntrap effect. Some effort was made to give each of these four pools a unique character. Charlton Lido was provided with twin aerators in cascades against the corner exterior walls at the shallow end of the complex. These differed from the more traditional “wedding cake” fountains that were fitted to the other three lidos. In addition a Children’s Pool was added for the first time in a LCC lido - although by the late 1930s this was commonplace at other lidos in the UK. The lido was taken over from the LCC by Greenwich Council in 1971.

One feature that was never fitted to LCC lidos, even these last four, was heating! This was apparently considered both contrary to the ethos of swimming provision, as well as an unaffordable extra expense."

Here is some further information on the History of Charlton Lido, written by Andy Hoines in 2004.

Gavin Hadland wrote:
"A hot spot in South East London, boasts a pretty location in a landscaped park. It is well maintained thanks to the efforts of members of the Charlton Lido Swimming Club who take over the running of the pool in the off-season period. They even break the ice for their regular December dips. During the summer, Greenwich Council run the lido for the benefit of the public."

In addition to the Swimming Club the pool was used regularly by such triathlon clubs, plus a Canoe Polo Club and Cross Channel Swimming Club based at the lido. The lido has been used for several film and publicity photo shoots, including a Blazing Squad pop video in May 2003, an episode of “The Bill” in January 2004 and has even featured as a background in a gardening catalogue. Blue paint was also applied to parts of the pool in 1993 for a film shoot.

2006: Greenwich Council talking to Open Waters Ltd about refurbishment plans for Charlton Lido. The plans would mean the existing main pool and baby pool would be renovated, and an adjacent building will be used to create a brand new 35 m deep scuba diving centre. In December 2006 full planning permission was sought for "redevelopment of existing lido to include erection of a three storey building to the east of the site to provide an indoor diving centre, gym, clubroom and a 3 bed manager's flat with associated parking" - subsequently granted.

2007: Pool closes, prior to refurbishment.

2010: The pool opened for a brief period.

2011: It is not known when building work on these diving facilities will start. Check with Greenwich Council

Ealing Village Pool (private, for the use of residents only)

Ealing Village, off Hangar Lane,
North Ealing, London W5 2NB

Photograph © Quiller Barrett
Grade II listed outdoor swimming pool with tiled surround and plant room built in 1934 for the Bell Property Company. It has concrete and yellow tiles, and a plant room of painted brick with hipped roof of green pantiles. Rectangular concrete-lined pool, the south side having a central shaped pediment with lion's head fountain. Tiled and concrete paving to surrounding area, the tiling apsidal at east end. On south side, single-storey, 3 x L-bay plant room has 3 round-arched windows with glazing bars, the central window larger; and board doors to returns. The swimming pool originally had a diving board at the east end.

Ealing Village is the name given to an classic art deco estate of private flats (see photograph) and in addition to the swimming pool has tennis courts and a club house. They were originally built in the 1930s to provide accommodation for actors and staff from Ealing Film Studios.

Aerial photograph

Finchley Lido

Great North Leisure Park, High Road
North Finchley, London N12 0AE
Tel: 020 8343 9830

Small free-form outdoor pool, with sunbathing area.

Read about the 1931 pool built on the same site.

Hampstead Mixed Pond, Hampstead Heath

East Heath Road, London NW3
Tel: 0207 485 4491

Map scan: London Street Atlas, 1947
Mixed Pond: Open daily 07.00-19.00 May to mid-Sept. Free of charge, but no children under 8, and under-16s only with an accompanying adult.

The Hampstead Mixed Pond is the northernmost of the three ponds near the fairground site, off East Heath Road. See Bathing Sheds on the map. It is fed by natural springs, via the Leg of Mutton (Viaduct) Pond and the Vale of Health Pond. The railway station shown on the map is BR Hampstead Heath on the North London Line, and the red line is the Northern line of the Underground - nearest stations: Belsize Park or Hampstead.

Oliver writes:
From the age of one I was brought up in a house in South End Road, overlooking Hampstead Heath, until my parents moved in the 1970s. We knew people who swam in the Pond every day, even breaking the ice, but as my father was a doctor, me and my sister were advised not to use it "in case we got tummy-ache".

Highgate Ponds, Hampstead Heath

Highgate, London NW3 (access is via Millfield Lane, N6)
Tel: 0207 485 4491

Aerial photograph:
Men's and Ladies Ponds: Open daily.

Roger Deakin writes: "The Ladies Pond is highest up the hill and said to have the best water because it is nearest to the natural springs in Kenwood which feed the deep, wooded pools. There has been swimming at the Men's Pond for over ninety years. Entrance is free and in the fenced enclosure nudity is de rigeur amongst the regulars - the serious swimmers, chess players, weight-lifters, readers and sunbathers for whom this is a sort of club. Out on the springboards and in the water, costumes are required. There are no longer any high boards - a sign of these cautious times. In the 1930s the Highgate Diving Club used to practise dives from the ten-metre board and their Aquatic Carnivals attracted crowds of 10,000. The City of London Corporation still maintains the Highgate Ponds for swimmers free of charge". No children under eight and under-16s only with an accompanying adult.

One of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002)

For a detailed history of these ponds, see Janet Smith's book, p.171

Hampton Heated Open Air Pool

High Street, Hampton, Middlesex TW12 2ST
It is open 365 days of the year.
Tel: 020 8255 1116

The main pool, built in 1922, is 40 yards (36.5m) long and 18 yards (14.5m) wide and at least two lanes, but usually three, are kept free for lap swimming in both fast and slow lanes. The rest of the pool is kept free for diving from the springboard, using the two small slides and general recreational swimming. The smaller teaching pool (12.5m x 7.3m) is usually available for children to enjoy as it is 0.9m (3ft) deep over the whole of its length.

History: As long ago as 1891 there had been a proposal for a floating swimming bath in the river. In 1900 the Thames Conservancy turned down a plan for the local council to be granted a lease on part of the river for bathing. There was much unsupervised swimming in the river and sites for a swimming pool were sought over the next few years. It was not until November 1913 that a site behind the Drill Hall (now the site of an MOT vehicle testing site) was identified and a plan was approved by the local council to construct a bath at an estimated cost of £1,150. In 1914 they were ready to go ahead with the site and the finance, when the Great War broke out and all plans were put on hold. The pool was not destined to open until 1922. From 1922 to 1980 the pool was run by various levels of local government as an unheated open air pool. The pool was upgraded in 1939, when a diving pit and filtration plant were added and again in 1961 when the pool was widened and the present brick building and car park wereconstructed. In 1980/81 Richmond Council decided that it was no longer financially viable for it to continue to run the pool and accordingly the pool remained closed from 1981 to 1984. In 1983 Richmond Council decided to demolish the pool and hand the land back to Bushy Park. A local community action group was formed and in 1984 it was successful in preventing the demolition of the pool. Local effort was focused into persuading the Council to change its mind and keep the pool open and following local elections and a change of control the new council agreed to transfer the pool to the group provided a sum of £20,000 was raised. In fact over £60,000 was raised including a grant from Richmond Council and permission was given to take over the pool. In 1984 Hampton Pool Ltd was formed and after 4 years of closure the pool reopened in the summer of 1985 as an heated swimming pool.

One of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002)

For a detailed history of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, p.162, or the Hampton Pool website.

Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex, was Uxbridge Lido (outdoor pool re-opened in May 2010)

Gatting Way, Park Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1NR
Tel: 0845 130 7324

Photograph © Mark Power/Network

50m unheated Grade II listed lido which was built in 1935. This is the only remaining example of a 12-sided 'star' swimming pool in the country and, at 220 feet, was the second longest open air swimming pool remaining in London. It is owned by London Borough of Hillingdon, and operated by Fusion.

Andy writes:
"Uxbridge Lido was closed by Hillingdon Council after the 1982 season and did not open in 1983. It then reopened by Uxbridge Pool Action Group in 1984, following a £148,000 grant from the GLC. They installed solar heating panels and a huge water slide, as well as additional dry-side activities to try and improve the viability of the pool. However, it did not prove to be a viable proposition in the long-term and the Council eventually took the pool back in 1989. Subsequently the pool closed down a second time, but was reopened again by the Yiewsley Pool Trust in 1993. This closure after the 1998 season was prompted by damage attributed to incursions from travellers."
It remained closed and derelict until 2009.

The Middlesex Show ground/site is adjacent, usually held in June each year. There was also an artificial ski slope - now derelict.

Aerial photo (before renovation):
October 2000: London Borough of Hillingdon proposes to build alongside the lido a 50m community pool with movable booms and floors, providing full public access and a centre for performance training. As well as this leisure pool, this would allow outdoor swimming in the listed open air pool, and a health and fitness suite, restaurant, health suite and sports hall.
Sept 2001: It was reported that English Heritage are overseeing the project to renovate the lido.

2005: Planning consent for the main swimming pool and sports centre was obtained on June 8th 2005 and construction of the new eight-lane running track and athletics grounds is now underway.

2006: The Athletics track and new Pavilion were completed in April 2006.

2008: Contractors Leadbitter, with a design team headed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, begin work on this £25m swimming pool complex in West London. The outdoor pool will be completely restored to its former glory. Funding was provided by London Borough of Hillingdon (£22m), London Development Agency (£2.02m), Sport England (£1.5m) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (just under £1m).

2009: In May 2009 a topping out ceremony was held attended by councillors, the construction firm and members of the local residents' association.

2010: The indoor pool and sports complex opened to local residents only on 22 Feb, and the official opening by Boris Johnson was on 23 March 2010. The unheated Lido (outdoor pool) re-opened in late May.

Hornsey: Park Road Pools

Park Road, Hornsey, London N8 8JN
Tel. 020 8341 3567

photo: James Boardwell
Park Road PoolThe open-air pool was 165 ft x 75 ft when it was built, as Hornsey Lido. It opened on 1 June 1929.
"In the Summer, it’s clear blue waters lap to the edges of grassy banks where sunbathers and swimmers can lounge and enjoy refreshments from the cafeteria. The children’s pool and fountain provide great entertainment for toddlers in a safe environment. The pools are warmed and open between May and September". There is a shallow-step pool entry and lift in to the main pool for wheelchair users.
Adjacent indoor Main, Small and Diving pools.

19.12.01: Liberal Democrats in Crouch End and Muswell Hill sounded a warning over the future of Park Road Pools, after hearing the council's controversial proposals for a public-private partnership to take over Haringey's leisure facilities. Park Road's four pools are used by 350,000 local people a year.

Aerial photograph

London Fields Lido [Re-opened 2006]

London Fields Westside, London E8 3EU
Tel: 0207 254 9038

Features: Open all year round, poolside lockers, open-air showers

This lido was originally opened on 30 April 1932, same dimensions as Kennington Lido, which was its "pair". Both pools were 165 x 66 feet, 350,000 gallons and a maximum depth of 7ft 6ins. Being early 1930s, these two LCC lidos were more elaborate than the earlier LCC lidos, with continuous filtration and aeration, and more standardised pool dimensions. The buildings were more substantial and included staff accommodation, first aid rooms, refreshment kiosks, plus individual and group changing rooms. Cost £10,000 to build and operating costs split between Hackney and the LCC. The construction costs were in part government compensation for using Hackney marshes during the war. Notably, it was closed during the entire WW2, but was re-opened in 1951 after very substantial rebuilding, apparently to pretty much the original design.

Closed from 1988 to 2006 this Lido, a central attraction of the area for nearly 60 years, has only recently re-emerged from behind dilapidated corrugated iron fencing. In its heyday this lido attracted over 1800 people a day.

Life was first breathed back into the neglected London fields Lido in 1997 when local people organised a mass clean up of the, then, totally overgrown site. Over 80 people spent two days clearing lorry loads of Buddleia bushes and weeds from the pool itself and from surrounding walls buildings. The following year a similar event was organised to paint some of the most damaged woodwork, clear away the corrugated iron fencing and create a banner to hang outside the building to let people know that the Lido is still there.

For the last 15 years, the London Fields User Group has acted as a focus for community activity. They sought to develop "a community-led initiative in partnership with LB Hackney, to plan and implement a holistic regeneration of the fields and all its assets, including the Lido". Derelict London website showed the pool before renovation.

plans, 2005In 2004, Hackney Borough Council decided to restore London Fields Lido, and have drawn up a £2.5m scheme with S&P Architects. This plans for a 50 x 17 metre deck level pool, reducing the depth to a maximum of 2m.

For photographs, see page 169 of Janet Smith's book.

October 2006: Andy Hoines writes a report of his swim there on 22 October (a preview swim for London Fields Users Group).

Following a further closure in early 2007 to complete building works, including a cafe and the installation of pool covers, the pool is now open all year (except some bank holidays).

Loughton: Kings Oak Swimming Pool, High Beach [Note: now a hotel pool, part of a private members' beach club]

Nursery Road, High Beach, Loughton IG10 4AE
(also spelt High Beech)
Tel: 0208 508 5000

Andy Hoines wrote a few years ago:
"There is an attractive 1930's unheated outdoor pool with a working fountain at The Kings Oak pub in High Beech, which is just north of Chingford. When open, it is very convivial, as there is a large pub garden and often there is a barbeque. It can get extremely crowded on a hot day in the holidays. This may be unique in the UK, being both privately run and part of a public house. The land on which the pool stands is apparently owned by the Corporation of London."

In Victorian times, just as today, High Beech was a major attraction for Londoners on excursions into the countryside. It was planned to bring the railway out there so speculators built the Oak in 1887 as a hotel to profit from the development. In fact the railway stopped at Chingford, leaving High Beech with an inappropriately large building.

An old athletics track at the back of the King's Oak Hotel was the venue for the first cinder-track speedway meeting in England, at High Beech in February 1928. At the back of the pub you can still detect the banks of the speedway track. Motorcycle clubs still use the pub for reunions and, nearer to the Robin Hood, you can often observe hundreds of bike enthusiasts admiring each other's machines at weekends.

Day membership of the Beach Club is available in 2013 (adults £20, children £10), open from 12 to 6pm daily.

Oasis Swimming Pools, Central London

Oasis Sports Centre,
32 Endell Street, London WC2H 9AG
Tel: 0207 831 1804

A 90 ft x 33 ft outdoor pool, 1.0 to 3.5m deep (originally the deep end was 11 ft 6 ins), open all year round, except Christmas, Boxing and New Year's Days. For opening hours see the website below, but in winter it is normally from 07:30 to 21:00 weekdays and 09:30 to 17:30 weekends and Bank Holidays. Admission also includes access to the 25 x 9 m indoor pool.

Andy Hoines writes:
"There is a long tradition of swimming on this site, starting with the "Bagnio", a Turkish Bath establishment reputedly visited by Queen Anne. This was built around 1728 and operated right through to 1840 when the springs that fed it were cut off. The site was taken over by the local parishes and the "Bloomsbury Baths & Washhouses" were opened in 1852. This complex included two indoor swimming baths, both of about 25,000 gallons. The complex was extensively rebuilt in 1900-1902 and renamed "Holborn Baths". It too boasted two covered swimming pools, though considerably enlarged compared to the original pools. In the 1930s, schemes were developed to again modernise the complex and an architectural competition was held. One ambitious "Swimstad" scheme even included both an 165 x 38 ft main and a 75 x 30 ft learner indoor pools. Construction of a new complex was commenced in 1937, but was interrupted by the outbreak of war.

The shallow end of the partially built new pool was used as a static water tank during the war. After the war, cash shortages meant that the intended indoor swimming complex could not be completed. Instead, the water tank was converted into an outdoor swimming pool, which opened on 1st June 1946.

In December 1960, a 25 x 9m indoor pool was opened alongside the outdoor pool. This was claimed to be not only the first covered metric length pool in the country, but the resulting composite indoor/outdoor swimming complex was also believed to be the first in the country. The rebuilding works, financed by the private sector, were accompanied by a 11-storey office block and sun-bathing terraces above the car park and indoor pool.

In 1986-7, the indoor pool was closed for roof works and the outdoor pool was kept open for much of the winter as an alternative. This experiment demonstrated that all year round opening of the outdoor pool was a practicable proposition and this was subsequently introduced in the early 1990s. Even on a cold winter's day, the outdoor pool is normally more popular than the indoor pool among the clientele, who are mostly fitness lane swimmers.

Aerial photograph:
This pool has a unique urban flavour, being overlooked not only by the office block, but also by the surrounding low rise flats. In recent years, the complex has been refurbished with new therapy, fitness class, sauna and sunbed rooms replacing the public laundries. The outdoor pool remains much the same, although three powerful underwater lights have been fitted. The regular fitness swimmers are supplemented by sunbathers in the Summer, giving the pool a most cosmopolitan atmosphere.

One of Ken Worpole's Ten Best Lidos (Independent 17 July 2002)

Parliament Hill Lido
sometimes called "Hampstead Heath Lido"

Parliament Hill Fields, Gordon House Road, Hampstead, NW5
Tel: 0207 485 3873

[The Hampstead Heath Information Centre is also located at the Lido. This centre also used by the London Natural History Society.
Tel: 020 7482 7073.]

Photo © John Piggott
This 200 x 90 feet outdoor pool, 2 ft 6 ins to 9 ft 6 ins deep and set within a 2.5 acre site on the edge of Hampstead Heath, was opened to the public on 20 August 1938. There was also a diving stage, shutes and a large cafe, with substantial areas set aside for sunbathing and spectators. In common with all the other LCC lidos, heating was never fitted and the pool remains unheated to this day.

Andy Hoines writes:
"This lido was the 12th and most expensive (£34,000) of the 13 built by the London County Council (LCC) between the early 1920's and 1939. The 650,000 gallon pool capacity was capable of being completely filtered, aerated and sterilised every five hours. Along with Victoria Park Lido, it was one of two "super sized" lidos built by the LCC in the late 1930s, reflecting the projected high demand in the densely populated suburbs. The low rise pool buildings and walls were designed to minimise shade and trap the heat. At the outset, the lido was provided as a public service, with entry being free for the single sex sessions (two full days for females and five mornings for males). This tradition of free morning swimming has survived until the present day. A £2 adult charge for early morning swimming has been proposed for 2005 though it is not clear whether this will be implemented.

In the mid 1970s, however, the Greater London Council (GLC), the LCC's successor was forced to make budget cuts. Complaints started to be made about the run down nature of the lido and the unruly behaviour of some of the patrons. Some afety related measures were undertaken, including the removal of most of the diving facilities and increasing the number of staff. [The last diving board (a 1m springboard) was finally removed in 2003.]

In 1986, the abolition of the GLC led to the lido being taken over by the London Residuary Body. Under its chairman, Sir Godfrey Taylor, the lido was not only kept open, but money for much needed capital expenditure was secured. The City of London (now Corporation of London), subsequently took over the operation of the lido, along with the whole of Hampstead Heath, in 1989. Since then, the lido has remained open and further investment was made at the lido, including cycle racks, hot showers, a paddling pool, improved security fencing and CCTV cameras. The lido was Grade II Listed in January 1999, as one of the finest surviving examples of a 1930s lido left in the UK.

The pool is still proving popular, with 49,000 paying visitors recorded in 2003. The vast pool size really comes into its own in heatwaves, when it is still possible to have a swim even when up to 3,000 people are packed into the complex. More remarkably, it has also been kept open for a full four and a half month summer season, and all year for early morning swimming right into current years."

There are further notes on the history of this lido written by Andy Hoines.

Leeroy Murray recalls his Memories of this lido (PDF)

2005: The lido was closed for Phase 1 of an extensive refurbishment, but reopened on 28 May 2005. The most noticeable changes will be a new stainless steel pool tank of the same size as the original, but with deck-level water, a larger shallow area and shallower deep end (reduced to 2 metres), as well as making it more accessible to those with mobility difficulties. Further work was carried out between September 2005 and May 2006.

The Highgate Ponds are a short walk away.

There is a users' group for the lido (and the ponds), the United Swimmers' Association of Hampstead Heath.

Richmond Pools in the Park

Twickenham Road, Richmond TW9 2SF
Tel. 020 8940 0561

Andy Hoines writes:
"This lido is Grade II listed. The 33 m outdoor and indoor swimming pools opened on 25 June 1966, the culmination of over 30 years of efforts to replace the nearby Parkshot Baths (1882) which not only leaked badly, but were also considered out of date and inadequate.

The scheme that eventually went ahead proved very controversial, primarily because it was built in a unashamedly modern style on a greenfield site in the historic Old Deer Park near the River Thames. The design of the scheme was modified following a visit by the council's Baths Committee to Holland! The result was an ambitious continental style indoor/outdoor pool complex, designed by architects Leslie Gooday and Associates. Both the main indoor and the outdoor pool were of the then standard competition size of 110 ft by 42 ft. The outdoor pool had a depth ranging from 9'6" to 3'0" and a 3m diving board, plus surrounding lawns.

I believe this swimming complex to be unique in the UK, as a purpose-built public indoor/outdoor pool complex on a new site, where the outdoor pool was built to be suitable for both competitive and leisure swimming. All the other indoor/outdoor pool complexes in the UK are either indoor pools built next to older existing outdoor pools, or the outdoor pool was intended for leisure use only.

In 1989, the length of both pools was said to be 33.5m (110 ft), rather than the commonly quoted metric equivalent of 33.3m. Despite several refits (one is currently underway), the outdoor pool basin retains its original shape and imperial dimensions. The Melia Smith & Jones Renovation Contract (1992) - includes some photographs

Today, the pool is operated by SpringHealth Leisure on contract to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, but is still open to the general public. The outdoor pool is normally open from Good Friday to the end of September, and has unusually long opening hours. One operating problem at the end of season are the large quantity of leaves that are blown into the pool from the trees in the surrounding park!"

Local Studies Archive, London Borough of Richmond
The Architects Journal, 1967, (1 November), pp. 1083-1096

The complex has received a Civic Trust Award.

The site also once had planning permission for an ice rink.

Small photograph of the pool

The Serpentine Lido, Central London

Hyde Park, London W2 2UH
Tel: 0207 706 3422.
The pool is open June to September seven days a week.

This pool is part of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park and has a popular "lido" on its South bank with a screened, pay-to-enter enclosure. Gavin Hadland writes: "It's great for adults and children as there is a paddling pool, a sandpit, swings and a slide. A children's entertainer performs between 2.30pm and 4pm every day during the summer".

The Serpentine Swimming Club, founded in 1864, swim from 6.30am to 9.30am daily - including their legendary Christmas Day race over 100 yards, in water usually below 4°C.

"This Lido was part of George Lansbury's inter-war scheme of improvements to public amenities in London. He was responsible for the foundation of the Serpentine Lido in 1931"

Tooting Bec Lido

Tooting Bec Road, London SW16 1RU
Tel: 0208 871 7198.

Opened on 28 July 1906, it is the earliest purpose-built open air pool in London, and is one of the largest in Europe (300ft x 100ft). Excavated soil was formed into an embankment (planted with trees in 1906) to shield the pond from the common. Like the surrounding area, the pool was altered in the 1930s. In 1931 the dressing sheds were adapted as individual cubicles and new changing rooms, with individual doors and seats, and lavatories and a new filtration house were built. In 1936 new cubicles and showers replaced the old dressing sheds, and a café was built, both designed by the LCC Parks Department.

Normally open to the public 6am to 7.30pm, end May to end August; and 6am to 5pm in September.
You can also swim from October to May by joining the South London Swimming Club.

Gavin Hadland writes: "Trees on Tooting Bec Common, in southwest London, surround this neat and tidy pool. Ever popular, Tooting Bec Lido attracts 2,000 visitors a day at the height of summer. There's a paddling pool with squirting toy animals, which children will love".

Brad Pitt once visited Tooting Bec Lido. He was there to film scenes for the gangster film "Snatch", directed by Guy Ritchie, 2000.

This lido recently received a £500,000 facelift, funded by Wandsworth Council. It is being modernised with a new foyer, a suite of jacuzzis and saunas. Work started early in 2001, and the new entrance was officially opened on 18 May 2002. In 2005 the lido was closed until 18 June 2005 while repairs were carried out to the pool tank. It was also re-sealed and re-painted. In 2006 it was the Winner of the Golden Goggles Award 2006 (London Pools Campaign) and it was closed for refurbishment between September and December.

Janet Smith has written a book on this lido:
Tooting Bec Lido
published by South London Swimming Club, 1996.
ISBN 0952884704
Price £5.95 - from the author: 16 Crowborough Road, London SW17 9QQ

Trent Park Open-Air Pool [closed 2012]

London N14 4YZ

The Trent Park estate was inherited by Philip Sassoon in 1912. He spared no expense in refurbishing and extending this property between 1925 and 1931. This included the construction of an outdoor swimming pool of 90 x 25 feet. Following Sassoon’s death in 1939, much of the estate was used for educational purposes, the rest being a Country Park.

This heated outdoor swimming pool was open as part of Middlesex University’s sports facilities, until the university left in 2012.

The swimming pool appeared in the 1967 Michael Winner film, I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘Is Name, disguised as a lily pond!

The park was designated a Conservation Area in 1973.

Here's a nice photo taken in the snow in 2009, and a summer one in 2005 showing the Grade II listed Orangery from 1930.

Middlesex University left Trent Park Campus in 2012, and its fate is unknown at present.

Many thanks to Kate Newman for quoting my website in her BBC London item in August 2002, which included quotes from Dr Ian Gordon, Janet Smith and myself. It is archived on this BBC News webpage.

The assistance of Ian Gordon is gratefully acknowledged.
The aerial photographs are copyright: the GeoInformation Group or

Oliver Merrington

Note that I no longer respond to press enquiries, or to individuals seeking filming venues, due to other commitments.
Updated and links to websites removed (please use Google or Wikipedia), February 2011.
Minor updates, August 2013