LIDOS IN LONDON no longer open



Purley Way Lido - todayCompiled by Oliver Merrington and Andy Hoines,
with additional details and photographs from Ian Gordon.

This webpage gives details of those lidos and open-air swimming pools in London which have closed, and complements Oliver's webpage on those Lidos in London which are still open. See also his A-Z Index to all Lidos in the UK still open.

Note: there are no longer any derelict lidos in London, except the very overgrown Ducker in Harrow - see below.

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

Photograph by Andy Hoines.
The diving board at Purley Way, Croydon, now a garden centre.


Index to pools on this page:

Alexandra Park Open Air Baths
Barking Open Air Pool
Bexley Open Air Pool Danson Park
Bounds Green: Durnsford Road Open Air Pool
Bromley Open Air Pool / Southlands Lido
Bromley-by-Bow: Poplar Open-Air Baths
Charlton Lido (is closed for refurbishment)
Chingford: Larkswood Open Air Pool
Chiswick: Edensor Baths
Colindale: West Hendon Lido
Croydon: Purley Way Lido
Croydon: Wandle Park
Dagenham: The Leys Open Air Pool
East Ham Open Air Baths
Edmonton: Houndsfield Lido
Enfield Lido, Southbury Road
Eltham Park Lido
Erith Outdoor Pool
Finchley Lido
Gladstone Park Open Air Pool, Willesden
Hammersmith: White City Lido
Hampton: Upper Deck Swimming Pool
Harrow: Charles Crescent Lido
Harrow: "Ducker", Northwick Park
Harrow: Wealdstone Open Air Swimming Baths
Havering Court Wonder Swimming Pool
Highbury Fields Lido
Ilford: Valentine's Park Lido
Kennington Park Lido
Kingsbury Lido
Lambeth: Geraldine Mary Hamsworth Park - Children's Lido
Lewisham: Bellingham Open Air Baths
Martens Grove Heated Outdoor Pool, Bexleyheath
Mill Hill Swimming Pool
Millwall Open Air Pool
Peckham Rye Bathing Pool
Peerless Pool, Old Street
Roehampton Open Air Baths
Ruislip "Lido"
Silvertown Open Air Baths
Southall Open Air Baths
Southgate: Barrowell Green Lido
Southwark Park Lido
St. Mary Cray: Lagoon Bathing Pool
Surbiton Lagoon
Teddington Lido
Tottenham Lido
Tottenham Marsh Swimming Pool
Trent Park Open Air Pool [closed 2012]
Twickenham Lido
Valence Park Lido, Dagenham
Victoria Park Lido, Hackney
Wembley Open Air Baths, Vale Farm
Whipps Cross Lido
Wandsworth Open Air Pool
West Ham Lido, Beckton Park
Willesden: King Edward's Pool
Willesden: Craven Park Lido
Yiewsley Swimming Pool

Some other
very short-lived outdoor pools

There are photographs and further details on some of these pools on the So Dive In website by Anne Jessel.

For historic and other Grade II Listed indoor swimming baths in UK and London, see Ian Gordon's book Great Lengths (2009)

Links and references - see separate webpage.

Note that where costs are given they may not always be comparable - some include machinery and land acquisition, while others are for construction only.


Alexandra Park Open Air Baths

Alexandra Palace Way, N22

It was located in the grounds of Alexandra Palace, between the Race Course and the New River Reservoirs, near the present Sports Ground. Oliver visited the site in 2005, and it is now marshy scrub and grass, with no structures visible.

Andy writes:
A very old pool, opened 1 May 1875. Size 200 x 51 feet tapering to 31 feet. Reportedly still in use until at least 1907. Closure date not known, probably in the 1920s or 1930s. Structure or remains still visible in a 1958 London Street Atlas. Date demolished not known.

There are various amusing complaints and reports about the state of the water, such as a letter in the press complaining of "dirty water, not changed often enough and dogs allowed to swim in the pool". Another fantastic description is reported as "I entered the swimming bath, I saw a liquid of some kind, but not at all like pure water. So I bethought myself that I must have made a mistake and come either to a duck pond, or, on account of its proximity to the stables, a receptacle of animal refuse."


Barking Open Air Swimming Pool

Barking Park, Longbridge Rd, Barking IG11 8UF

Aerial photo (prior to renovation as water park):
Aerial Photo of Barking Lido, East London

Opened in May 1931, cost £13,000, 165 x 90 feet, 2’6” double shallow ends, 8’6” deep in the centre, 520 000 gallons. Designed by Mr R A Lay, Council Surveyor & Engineer. The 90ft width allowed for competitive water polo to be played. Had two ornamental 5 tier fountains, extensive sunbathing and spectator terraces.

The seasons were shortened from 1983 to cut the then escalating costs in a climate of declining attendances and council spending cutbacks, to only 76 days of public opening in 1988. The pool closed after 1988 season after a period of decline, with reduced season and opening hours.

The filled-in Barking open-air swimming pool can still be seen in the northern part of Barking Park, adjacent to the boating lake. The aerial photograph (left) shows the pool surrounded by single storey buildings on three sides. The southwest section of the building is still used, by the Barking Short Mat Bowls Club.

Barking Park was opened in 1898 as the first municipal park in the Borough, and was integral to the areas development in the late 19th century. It is a good example of a late Victorian Park, complete with Lake, ornamental gardens and avenues. In the 1930's, as Barking developed further, facilities were provided, such as the Open Air Swimming pool and tennis courts, and by the 1950's it was considered to be one of the finest municipal parks in East London. Facilities such as the Indoor Bowls Pavilion were provided in the 1970's onwards, reflecting national trends in leisure pursuits.

August 2001: "The pool has not been used for fifteen years, is now derelict.".

July 2004: As part of a Restoration Project the park has been "restored to its former glory", including the planting of 23 trees and over 2,500 shrubs.


2006: Barking & Dagenham Council received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £3,254,000 (plus £245,000 towards a Development Phase) to restore Barking Park. This includes a plan to:
"Refurbish the lido into a Community Hub with a café, educational facilities enclosing a wet play area and multifunctional space. This would include restoring the fountains, with seating, lawns and flower beds."

2009-10: The project website gives "an estimated start date of October 2009 for the restoration and improvement works, with a completion date of Winter 2010-2011."

See also my message to the Lidos Yahoo Group.


Bounds Green: Durnsford Road Open Air Pool

Durnsford Road, Bounds Green, N11

Opened in August 1934, 165 by 92 ft, double shallow end, 3ft 6ins to 8ft 6ins deep, cost £26,411. Designed by E.P. Mawson. The 600,000 gallons were filled by road tanker from an artesian well in Broomfield Road after the Metropolitan Water Board refused to provide the water to Wood Green Council.

Did not open in 1980, due to the poor condition of the men's changing rooms. Reopened in 1981 after repairs completed. Finally closed after 1988 season.

Most of the original architecture is still evident today as this lido is now the Sunshine Garden Centre. Anne-Marie Penny writes: "The diving board structure has recently been dismantled, but the changing rooms are still in use, as potting sheds!"

Philip Foxe writes: "I was in the Sunshine Garden Centre on Durnsford Road the other day ... I can never forget that it was once a very popular place with local teenagers - when it was an open-air swimming pool - which was sold off ..."


Bromley-by-Bow: Poplar Open Air Baths

Violet Road, Bromley-by-Bow, E3

Opened on 15 July 1924 by the Mayor of Poplar, this was billed as the first open-air swimming baths in the East End. The pool was built by labour from the local Labour Exchange with money from the Unemployment Grants Committee, and cost approximately £6,700. The pool was 100 x 40 ft in size and 3 ft 6 ins to 7 ft 6 ins deep, on a compact site only 150 feet long and between 53 and 65 feet wide. It was designed by Harvey Weckford, the Borough Surveyor.

From the outset, all sessions were for both sexes apart from those for schools, and there were no free sessions. It was generally opened from early May to late September between 12 noon and 8pm on weekdays and 8 to 10am on Sundays. During heatwaves, these hours were extended. In summers with good weather, attendances of up to 30,000 were recorded, but in poor summers, these dropped to around 15,000. In 1933, a telephone was installed at the pool for the first time, but a burglary in July led to £5 8s being stolen from it!

An Official Guide to Poplar in 1927 stated:
"The bath is beautifully tiled, kept scrupulously clean, and provided with the necessary dressing rooms and appointments: there is also a suite of slipper baths in the same thoroughfare." [The slipper baths closed in 1930].

The pool closed after the 1936 season. This was primarily due to the baths being felt to be obsolete and outdated, causing a reduction in attendance. By then, all the surrounding swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor, had been fitted with filtration, chlorination and aeration equipment. Due to its small site, fitting water treatment was not considered practicable at Violet Road. In addition, new indoor Poplar Baths were opened in 1934 and the state-of-art open air Victoria Park Lido had opened in May 1936. These local alternatives caused a drop in attendances at Violet Road. In addition, the location of the pool in an industrial area, adjacent to the Devon's Road Goods Depot, caused "the surface of the water to become covered with flue dust and other deposits, and this gave a very uninviting appearance".

The pool was demolished by February 1940, and the site used as a council depot.


Chingford: Larkswood Open Air Pool

Larkswood (part of Epping Forest), New Road, Chingford, London E4 9EY

Opened on 28 July 1936, cost £23,400, cruciform (12-sided) pool 165 x 60 + 220 x 90 feet, 10’0” diving pit, 765,000 gallons. Space left for heating in plant room, but never apparently fitted! Design allowed galas or water polo to take place in roped off areas, while still leaving space for the general public to swim.

Larkswood has a possible record attendance candidate for a London lido - 1959 = 290,400 and almost certainly the largest site at 7.5 acres. Closed after 1987 season.

Anna Morell writes: "The pool was in the shape of a cross, with a lovely old high board."

The council pulled it down in the late 1980s and replaced it a few years later with FantaSeas, a white tent-type swimming complex with slides, built by the council but run by a private company. After some serious accidents, and debts of £6 million within 18 months, it closed and lay derelict for 10 years.

There were attempts to build a new school there instead, but in 2001 Waltham Forest Council built a new indoor pool on the site, called Larkswood Leisure Centre. The site is now shared with a private Green's leisure club, and a restaurant.

For a more detailed history and photographs of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 132-133.



Chiswick: Edensor Baths

Edensor Road, Chiswick, W4 2RG

The first pool on this site opened in 1910, cost £1,857, 150 ft x 50 ft, and was subsequently steadily improved in stages. In 1930 a new pool 100 x 35 feet, was built costing £4,896. Unusually, the second smaller pool was actually deeper than the original (presumably to facilitate diving and possibly water polo).

Closed after 1980 season and demolished in 1988. An indoor pool opened in 1991 on part of site (rest of site used for mixed residential / commercial development) after delays due to various faults. Still open in 2003 as Chiswick New Pool after closure threats apparently averted by new / refurbished gym.


Colindale: West Hendon Lido

Goldsmith Ave, The Hyde, Colindale, NW9 7EX

Opened in 1922, costing £5,033, with an unusual 132 ft x 66 ft size. Designed by A.O. Knight. Closed in 1980, along with Mill Hill Lido, which followed the opening of Copthall indoor pool in 1977. The site now is housing (Gadsbury Close).


Croydon: Purley Way Lido

Waddon Way, Purley Way, Croydon, Surrey CRO 4HY
(now Wyevale Garden Centre)

Aerial photograph (1945) - also shows aircraft in Croydon Aerodrome
Built 1935. Architect: C.E. Boast. Builders: Messrs Perry. Opened 20 July 1935. Cruciform shape: 200ft x 70ft on one axis, 100ft x 60ft on minor axis, 650,000 gallons, site 4.5 acres. Notable for being one of possibly only five London lidos originally provided with heating before WWII. It was used for international water polo matches, with some competitors arriving by aeroplane at the adjacent Croydon Aerodrome.

Andy writes:
"This was indeed surely one of the true "wonder pools" of the UK. It opened at the same time as the outdoor pool in Ramsgate and cost £15,600. The impressive cross shaped pool had a 15 feet deep diving pit. There was indeed every "mod con" of the age, which also included ozone filtration, underwater floodlighting and was even one of the very few outdoor pools to be heated from the outset. Its large site was 4.5 acres.

It was last open in the summer of 1979, the victim of the changing politics, priorities and fashions of the modern world. The attendance was reported to be only 28,000 in that final summer, perhaps not helped by the lack of heating (possibly removed during the war). It was one of the earliest outright closures of any outdoor pool in London (most previous instances were due to replacement by an indoor pool).

An indoor leisure pool complex was built on part of the site, but obviously not over the pool or main buildings. This indoor pool was subsequently closed and has been demolished.

Julian Meldrum writes:
"I remember the Purley Way swimming pool from my childhood - between Waddon and Purley - it was a large open air pool, somewhat heated - but it has long since closed and was replaced by a leisure centre (indoors, with wave machines, etc.)".

Bernard Searle writes:
"I have been in leisure management for about 25 years and one of my jobs was at Purley Lido in the London Borough of Croydon. Sadly it closed in March 1980, however most of the buildings can still be seen as the pool was used for the Rockinghams Garden Centre, now Wyevale Garden Centre. It was a cross-shaped pool with a fountain at each end, with a 15 foot deep diving pit with 3, 5 and 10 metre diving platforms, also still visible in the garden centre. In the summer of 1976, 9,000 people a day visited."

For a more detailed history and photographs of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 98-101.


Croydon: Wandle Park

Also called "Wimbledon Open Air Baths".

Pool opened on 30 August 1913, 150 ft by 50 ft, 3’-4’ deep, 160,000 gallons filled from the Wandle river at the rate of 300 gallons an hour. This pool was closed before 1979.


Dagenham: The Leys Open Air Pool

The Leys, Ballards Road, Dagenham

Opened 29 July 1939, cost £30,000. Designed by F.C. Lloyd, The Leys pool had an 165 x 50 ft main pool with a 15 ft diving pit in the middle. There was also a children's pool and an elegant gantry of three concrete diving boards.

The diving boards were closed after the 1978 season and demolished at a cost of some £4,300 before the 1980 season, due to their poor state of repair.

The Leys Pool closed after 1979 season, following widespread frost damage and vandalism, with long term repairs estimated at £86,000 in 1980. So the pool never reopened, despite some spirited protests from the local community and a failed takeover bid from Doug Endersbythe. He was the businessman behind the Epping Forest Country Club, which itself had a successful open air pool open to the public at this time.
Demolished sometime after 1984.



Danson Park: Bexley Open Air Pool

Opened 25 July 1936, 165 x 90 ft main pool, 3 - 10 ft deep and two 45 x 30 ft children‘s pools, 600,000 gallons total, which was originally heated. Designed by G A Joy.

Andy Hoines writes:
I used to work with someone who was a lifeguard during the final season in 1979. He put the closure down mainly to the increasing costs of vandalism and the difficulty of finding staff. An indoor pool also had been built nearby at Crook Log by then. His recollections, together with those of my father, who grew up in nearby Abbey Wood indicate that this heating was not in use by the 1950’s. It was famous for having a “mangle” used to squeeze excess water from towels! Even in 1936, the motor age was upon us, the pool having a 250-space car park.

Susan Wilson writes:
"I thought you may be interested in the memories I have of this pool. I used this pool in the middle to late 1960s. It was situated right on the edge of Danson park towards Bexley. The main pool was rectanglar, and quite large (well, it was to me, as I was only a child at the time). At one end totally separate were two circular smaller pools. One was for toddlers and the other was deeper, probably about 2ft. There were steps all the way round each pool leading down into the water. One if not both of these pools had a ornamental fountain. The main pool did have diving boards at one end.

All the pools when I used them were unheated. There were steps leading up to a raised terraced area and a cafe where you could get pots of tea on a tray and take it back to where you were sunbathing. This would probably not be allowed now under H+S rules.

Bexley pool was always well used, in fact on a hot day you had to get there early as you might not get in. I am not sure but I think it only opened in the spring/summer months".

Following closure the site was extensively vandalised and it was demolished in 1982. The site is now grassed over.


East Ham Open Air Baths

Central Park, East Ham

The open-air pool was opened on 31 May 1901 by Councillor F G Francis. The cost was £1,400 and it was built by direct labour by East Ham Council. The pool’s size was 90 x 30 feet and was described as being "of the regulation size" for the time. The depth varied from 2ft 6ins to 6ft deep.

This pool was closed from 1915 to 1918, during much of WWI. It re-opened after the war, but in 1923 was closed for good and converted to dressing rooms.


Edmonton: Houndsfield Lido

Houndsfield Road, Edmonton, N9

Opened in 1927, original cost £8,000, size 150 by 100 ft, approx 500,000 gallons. Considerable improvements in 1935 costing £8,700 included a filtration plant, loudspeakers, a Refreshment Pavilion and Tea Terrace, a sun-bathing beach and various building extensions. Enfield Council closed both Houndsfield Road and Barrowell Green pools after the 1979 season.

It was at the end of Houndsfield Road, on the opposite side of the road to the Houndsfield School Field. The site now has housing on it.

Richard Burton writes:
"I remember visiting it in the late 1960's with my school. It must have closed soon after".

See also the Lower Edmonton website by Graham Johnson


Eltham Park Lido

Eltham Park South, Glenesk Road, SE9

Opened on 26 April 1924, a joint venture between London County Council and Woolwich Borough Council, at a cost of £7,700. The pool was 150 x 60 feet with a maximum depth of 7ft 6ins. It was never heated. Entrance and exit in middle of deep end terrace. In 1936 it was rebuilt with new changing facilities and new diving stages. Designed by the Borough Engineer.

It was one of only three lidos still operated by the GLC at the time of its abolition in 1986 and was considered the "baby" of the family, as the pools at Victoria Park and Parliament Hill were both 200 x 90 feet! Interestingly, attendance figures at Eltham Park were generally similar to the other two far larger and "grander" pools and the overheads were far lower.

Originally Eltham Park South was privately owned by the Cameron Corbet Development Company. The land was purchased by the Woolwich Borough Council and the London County Council in 1903, who added facilities including tennis courts, a putting green, a children’s playground, and the open-air pool.

Eltham Park Lido was open all year until the GLC was abolished. It was closed by Greenwich Council on 31 March 1988 after council spending cuts, and the proximity of Charlton Lido which was considered more viable and in a better condition. In addition the new A2 Rochester Way Relief Road built nearby caused subsidence. The Eltham Training and Swimming Club, a club involved in long distance swimming, such as cross-Channel attempts, was forced to find a new home at nearby Charlton Lido, where they still do some training today.

March 1998: "Greenwich Council has come under fire again after it rejected plans to reopen Eltham Lido. SPLASH, a registered charity created by Eltham people, had its design for an all-year-round covered pool rejected by the Council at the beginning of February 1998." Eileen Glover, who led charity Splash’s two-year battle in the late 1990s to reopen the lido, is now an Eltham South ward councillor.

2003: A local residents group looked at the possiblities for getting Eltham lido re-opened. However Greenwich Council was in discussion with the Lawn Tennis Association to see whether it might be possible to build an indoor tennis centre on the lido site.

The site has now been grassed over. See earlier photographs on the Derelict London website.


Enfield Lido

Southbury Road, Enfield. (It was located between Bryn Road and the service road leading to Kingsmead School).


Built in 1932. Architect H.R. Crabb. Built by Council workers. Size 200ft x 80ft, depth 3ft at each end and 8ft 6ins in the centre, 576,000 gallons, and cost £26,244. The complex also possessed 18 slipper baths and laundry, heated by two 760,000 BTU oil burning boilers. The pool itself was not heated. Another postcard view from Ian Gordon.

Andy Hoines writes:
The leaflet that I collected when I visited in 1988 claimed that it was only 50m, which gave me a surprise when I swam a length! It was still open for three full months that year.

Closed after 1990 season, and demolished in December 1998. The site has been redeveloped as cinema, indoor swimming pool and restaurants.


Erith Outdoor Pool

Stonewood Road, Erith, Kent

Opened in 1907, 60 by 25 ft, designed by H Hind, it was heated from a nearby power station. It closed in 1967.

Nick Fenton-Smith writes: "Erith Pool was closed and demolished in, I think, 1968, coinciding with the opening of the new 'Riverside Baths' about 100 metres away, at the bottom of Walnut Tree Road".

Andy writes: "I lived in this area of London and quite often visited the indoor pool (Riverside Pool or Erith Sports Centre) on the same road, which replaced the open air pool."


Finchley Lido

High Road, Finchley, N12

The Finchley Open Air Pool was designed by P T Harrison, Finchley Borough Council. The main heated pool opened in 17 September 1931 and stayed open until 11 November. The following year it was officially opened on 26 March, and on 22 April 1932 the Duke of York (to become King George VI) unveiled a ceremonial wall tablet.

Main heated pool 165ft x 80ft, depth 3ft 6ins to 10ft, with two fountains. 456,250 gallons. Diving stage of a similar design to Barking Lido.

The whole site occupied seven acres, and there was a car park, with its own uniformed attendant (paid £3 per week in 1932). The main building also possessed a burglar alarm from 1932.

Alan Powers writes: "It was approached down a short avenue, leading to a tile-roofed neo-Georgian entrance block. On the poolside there were an elegant colonnade of Roman Doric columns, with fountains to either side. There were extensive poolside terraces."


Finchley Children's Pool

From the southern side there were steps down to the children's pool, which was opened on 12 July 1934 by the Lord Mayor of London. It was also 165ft x 80ft but elliptical in shape. 138,000 gallons, max depth 3ft 6ins, and cost £7,000. A central cascade flanked by arcades was built into the hillside, providing children's changing rooms.

The pool was used in the 1948 Olympic Games for men's water polo.

The lido closed after the 1992 season. It was originally heated, but we understand that this was removed for the war effort. A lot of money was spent on “safety” measures, such as reducing the depth of the main pool shortly before it closed! The adult entrance fee was a rather steep £4 when Andy visited in 1992, which was widely seen as a measure to deter customers and thus hasten closure. The original pool building is still intact, and is used as a restaurant.

The London Borough of Barnet re-developed the former outdoor pool site as the Great North Leisure Park in High Road, North Finchley. It now consists of the Finchley Lido Leisure Centre (with an indoor and a very small outdoor swimming pool). On the site there is also a cinema, a bowling alley, as well as restaurants. These all opened in May 1996.

For a detailed history, plans and photographs of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 76-79.


Gladstone Park Open Air Pool

Dollis Hill Lane, Willesden, NW2

A large "kidney shaped pool with a 75 ft straight stretch" opened by Lord Gladstone on 18 July 1903 (predating Tooting Bec), cost £2,569 6s 5d! Depth: 2'6” to 5’10”, with a capacity of 500,000 gallons. Date of closure uncertain, but it was still open in 1983. Now a bowling green.

From photographs, this looks more like a concreted bathing pond, but Andy's research suggests that the distinction between a pond and a swimming pool, prior to about 1920, is often indistinct.


Hammersmith: White City Lido

Bloemfontein Road, Hammersmith, W12

Opened on 4 August 1923, designed by R Hampton Clucas, Borough Engineer, costing £13,149 and built by 60 unemployed men in six months. Size 150 x 75 ft in a 250 x 150 ft site with small lawns both ends, 3’6” double shallow ends and 7’3” deep in middle, 337,500 gallons.

Closed after the 1979 season and converted into a trendy indoor lagoon leisure centre, called the Janet Adegoke Leisure Centre, which opened in 1980. Wormholt Park adjoins.


Harrow: Charles Crescent Lido

off Bessborough Rd, Harrow

Opened on 28 July 1923 on some "left over land" on a new council housing estate, and cost around £10,000. Designed by P Bennetts. Size: 165 by 75 ft, depth was 3’6” - 7’ (i.e. too deep for non swimming children and too shallow for serious diving!). Closed after 1980 season, the site is now covered by residential developments. Many comments have been made of the fine views from the pool and the lovely banked lawns originally created from the spoil from the pool.


Harrow: "The Ducker" [derelict and overgrown]

Harrow: Ducker
The Ducker in 1905
This is a very large curved pond built in 1866, with concreted sides. When used by Harrow School as a swimming pool the water was treated. It was open to the public in the early part of the 20th century. Illicit swims by staff of Northwick Park Hospital, which adjoins, have been reported.

Northwick Park, including the Ducker Pond site, is identified as Metropolitan Open Space and a Public Open Space, in the London Borough of Brent.

It still exists today, but is very derelict and overgrown with large trees. Public footpaths go nearby. I visited the site in 2006.


Harrow: Wealdstone Open Air Swimming Baths

Christchurch Avenue, Harrow HA3 5BD

Opened on 5 May 1934, costing £9,500, 165 x 75 ft and 2’6” - 8’6” deep, 450,000 gallons. Designed by P May.

The Harrow Leisure Centre, including an indoor pool, opened alongside in 1975. This was also presumably the date when the outdoor pool was first heated. The centre has had a turbulent history, with financial crises, management problems, losses from a waterslide feature, etc.

Andy Hoines thinks that the outdoor pool was probably last open in 1997. I went there when it was derelict in 2006 and took some photographs.
The pool has now been demolished and the site redeveloped.


Havering Court Wonder Swimming Pool

Havering Road, Havering-atte-Bower, Romford, Essex RM1 4YW

Havering Court, built about 1858, was transformed in the 1930s into 'road house' and in 1936 became the "Havering Court Club and Swimming Pool". The 150 x 75 ft pool was sometimes known as "Havering Court Wonder Swimming Pool".

Andy writes:
"This was privately run and judging from the extensive advertising in the local press of the time, was obviously quite an entertainment complex. It was described as having a "wonderful view" and as being "the most beautiful swimming pool around London". Facilities included tea gardens, golf and tennis with regular events such as gala dances and cabarets. In the 1936 summer season the swimming pool was open from 8am to midnight.

On 6 Sept 1939 an announcement in the Romford Times announced that "Owing to the international situation, Havering Court Swimming Pool will be closed until further notice". The buildings were subsequently damaged by fire and the pool did not reopen after the war. However it was reportedly still partially intact, but derelict, as late as 1976. The site has now been redeveloped as a BUPA nursing home."

Old photographs with historical information, on the Romford Now & Then website.


Highbury Fields Lido

Highbury Pool, Highbury Crescent, N5 1RR

Opened in 1921, with a paddling pool added after WWII. One of several early 1920s LCC lidos with a size of 180 x 60 ft (the others were at Southwark Park & Peckham Rye). Maximum depth 7’6”. Designed by C A Smith.

There is now a indoor pool and gym on this site. The complex includes a sunbathing patio and a small open-air "paddling" or "plunge" pool, visible on this aerial photograph. It opened in May 1984, and took 74 weeks to build, so the old open air pool presumably closed in about 1982.



Ilford: Valentine's Park Lido

Valentine's Park, off Perth Road, Ilford

Andy writes:
A lovely pool apparently built on an old gravel pit that I personally knew very well. The opening date was 2 August 1924, costing £5,500 with the help of a £2,140 government loan. Size was 150 x 50 ft and was very little altered since the 1930’s. Designed by H Shaw.

Closed after 1994 season and demolished in August 1995 at a cost of £26,000, following an unwillingness to finance long term repairs estimated at £250,000. There was a petition to retain the pool signed by 2,132 people. It is such a pity that this pool, which survived the 1980’s pogrom in a leafy suburban park, did not survive. There is certainly continuing outrage and sensitivity locally about the manner in which it was closed.

The Park is currently registered as a Grade II landscape on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. The landscaped gardens include a boating lake and bowling greens, and Valentines Mansion, a late 17th century house.


Kennington Park Lido

Opened in 1931. Commonly described as a "pair" with the lido at London Fields, except that Kennington was not provided with a cafe. Both pools were 165 x 66 feet, 350,000 gallons and a maximum depth of 7ft 6ins. Being early 1930s, these 2 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.

It did not open for the 1988 season (along with Brockwell Park) for financial reasons. The council subsequently decided to demolish the buildings and rebuild the pool on the same site. They felt that the general structural deterioration of the lido made continued operation "as is" impossible. Phase 1 of this was completed in 1990, with the buildings demolished and the relining of the main tank. Phase 2, costing £700k, did not proceed due to restrictions on the council's capital expenditure. Sometime after 1994, the pool was filled in and is now a sports pitch / tennis court.

Martin Gainsford writes:
"I have strong memories of summers spent at Kennington Park Lido. The park itself contained an adventure playground, a 'One O'Clock Club' for pre-school children, a standard swing park, an asphalt football pitch and a paddling pool. The jewel in the crown, as it were, was of course the lido. A whole day would be spent at the park culminating with a dip in undeniably the coldest water it has ever been anyone's misfortune to swim in. Nonetheless kids from all around went back day after day during the summer months. I remember the flat concrete area surrounding the pool becoming too hot to stand on and each day the familar sound of an ambulance coming to collect the latest victim of broken glass found always found covering the bottom of the adjacent paddling pool. A friend of mine spent his first summer after leaving school as a life guard at Kennington and we were all very impressed. A sad day when it closed. The advent of a local leisure centre at The Elephant and Castle during the late 1970s was the death knell for both Kennington Park Lido and Manor Place Baths. How could either compete with slides and wave machine?"

2009: A Facebook campaign was started to rebuild this lido in Kennington Park.


Kingsbury Lido

Roe Green Park, Kingsbury Road, NW9 9HA

Opened in 1939, 165 x 75 feet, depth 3ft 6ins to 6ft 6ins with 10ft deep diving area, 1.16 acre site.

Anne Jessel writes:
It held 458,000 gallons of lovely crystal clear water shimmering over white glazed tiling. Fun-filled action was displayed from two chutes, and diving training took place from two 3m and one 5m board. The toddlers were not to be missed out, having their own paddling pool to romp and splash around. Terraces and promenade area were unusually situated on the roof of the dressing rooms - originally at ground level.

Closed after 1987 or 1988 season after costs had risen to around £100,000 a year and the season had been reduced to only 6 weeks. There was a tragic drowning of a 9 year old boy in Sept 1989, after which the pool was filled in by Brent Council. It was demolished by Jan 1994.
Today the site is full of pool rubble and grassed over.


Lambeth: Geraldine Mary Hamsworth Park - Children's Lido

Located next to the Imperial War Museum, St George's Road, SE1

Opened in July 1938, cost was £6,500, it was about 90 feet square, 100,000 gallons, depth was from only 8ins to 3ft. Access to the pool was restricted to those aged 12 years or less, but parents could accompany their children and sunbathe on the lawns!

Closed about 1981-1983, but may have been reopened afterwards - it was derelict by 1993 and has now been demolished.


Lewisham: Bellingham Open Air Baths


Bellingham Baths, SE6

Main pool opened on 29 July 1922, 150 by 60 ft, with a substantial learner pool added in 1966. Designed by W Owsley and H Higgins. Closed after the 1980 season.

Another postcard view quotes "The Open Air Swimming Pool was the first authority amenity provided for the Bellingham Estate".

(?Another pool in Randlesdown Road / Downham Swimming Baths, opened 1937)


Martens Grove Heated Outdoor Pool

Martens Grove, alongside Martens Avenue, Bexleyheath

This park was acquired by Crayford District Council in 1933 and an ornamental pond was adapted and used for bathing during 1933-36. This was so popular that this led to the construction of the heated swimming pool. Opened on 20 May 1939, it cost £9,592. There was a grant of £2,000 from the National Fitness Council of England & Wales. Main pool 100 x 35 ft, 3 to 10 ft deep, children's pool 40 x 35 ft and 1-3 ft deep. The pools had 5-hour turnover Van der Made ozone sterilising plant and two gas boiler heaters to achieve 70F. It was designed by the Borough Engineer & Surveyor, Francis A N Turner.

The pool closed in the 1970s, however unlike the one in nearby Bexley Open Air Pool in Danson Park, it was not demolished and had a short resurrection in the early 1980s. Nick Fenton-Smith writes: "I was invited back and worked as a pool supervisor for the summer season 1982, to supplement my teacher's salary! 'The Grove' had its last season the following year, and was demolished in 1989, despite pulling 800-1000 people through the doors on hot days."


Mill Hill Swimming Pool

Daws Lane, Mill Hill, NW7

Main pool: 165 x 75 ft, depth: 2ft 6ins -> 8ft -> 3ft (double shallow end), opened in 1935. Designed by A O Knight. Closed in 1980s.

Andy writes:
Mill Hill Park was acquired by Hendon Borough Council in 1924, with 1.45 acre site later used in the 1930s for this pool and a cafe (2.5 acres including car park). Interestingly, car parking was charged, even in the 1930s at 3d for cars, 2d for motorbikes & 1d for bicycles! Date of closure not known. This was a garden centre, when I visited it in the early 1990s.



Millwall Open Air Pool

Millwall Recreation Ground, Stebondale Street, Isle of Dogs, E14

Opened on 26 June 1925 by the Mayor, Councillor Edgar Lansbury. It was 150 by 60 ft, depth 3ft 8ins to 7ft 2ins, capacity 300,000 gallons. Designed by H Weckford, it cost £10,720 as a unemployment relief scheme, taking just over 7 months to build.
"It provided ample accommodation for 200 bathers. Swimming is encouraged amongst the young, and in 1925, it is gratifying to record, there were no fewer than 222,000 visits of children to the baths in the Borough of Poplar."

By the late 1930s, it was reported to be the least used LCC pool and was closed all winter. It suffered a direct bomb hit in 1940 and was left derelict before being demolished in the 1960s. The Recreation Ground is now called Milwall Park.

Photograph by William Whiffin on the THHOL website.



Peckham Rye Bathing Pool

Peckham Rye, SE15 (was on a triangular piece of ground which is cut off from the main part of Peckham Rye Common by East Dulwich Road).

photo © S BallOpened on 8 Sept 1923, size 180 x 60 ft, 2ft 6ins - 7ft 6ins deep, 400,000 gallons.
Part of the film "Entertaining Mr Sloane" was shot at this pool.

It closed in April 1987, after which a long period of dereliction followed. As late as May 1995, Southwark Council were still attempting to sell the lido site for repair or redevelopment. In the end the site was cleared and returned to public use as part of Peckham Rye Park.

Paula Martin writes:
"I remember swimming there twice a day during the summer that I sat my mock exams, I used to head up there in the morning, pop home for more revision and go back about 4pm. It was filled in probably 10 years ago and then the surrounding changing rooms and perimeter building knocked down about 5 years ago - strangely they've left a blue structure [an aerator fountain] which I remember being at the North end of the pool" [as has a similar one at Southwark Park - eds.].

Debbie Stevenson writes:
"My mum used to take me to Peckham Lido during the hot summers in the late 1970s. I remember going through the big iron turnstile at the main entrance and wanting to run with excitement. You're right, the blue structure was a fountain, I seem to remember it being tiered like a big blue wedding cake and children were allowed to play in it. Do you remember how high the diving board seemed back then?"



Peerless Pool, Old Street

The first purpose-designed open-air swimming pool in the UK was Peerless Pool, which was converted from an existing pond at Old Street in 1743. The baths were owned by a local jeweller William Kemp, and were 170 x 108 ft - of 'imposing dimensions' - and were equipped with an arcade and boxes for dressing, as well as a screen of trees to protect the bathers from the gaze of "vulgar people". The annual subscription was £1 10s. For casual visitors the cost was a shilling a time. Beside the swimming pool he kept a large fish pond which he stocked with carp and tench. This was also open to subscribers for an annual fee of one guinea, or to casual anglers for two shillings a time. In winter, the ponds were used for skating.

The original name of the pool had been "Perrillous Pond" on account, according to Stow, of the number of youths who drowned in it whilst swimming. Pennant, writing in 1790, says that it has:

"been converted into the finest and most spacious bathing place now known; where persons may enjoy the manly and useful exercise with safety. Here is also an excellent covered bath, with a large pond stocked with fish, a small library, a bowling green and every innocent and rational amusement; so that it is not without reason that the proprietor hath bestowed on it the present name."

Around 1805, the lease was acquired by Joseph Watts who drained the fish pond and constructed Baldwin Street on part of the site. William Hone visited the pool in 1826 and found that very little had changed:

"Trees enough remain to shade the visitor from the heat of the sun on the brink. On a summer evening it is amusing to survey the conduct of the bathers; some boldly dive, others timorous stand and then descend step by step, unwilling and slow; choice swimmers attract attention by divings and somersets, and the whole sheet of water sometimes rings with merriment. Every fine Thursday and Saturday afternoon in the summer columns of Bluecoat boys, more than a score in each, headed by their respective beadles, arrive and some half strip themselves 'ere they reach their destination. The rapid plunges they make into the Pool and their hilarity in the bath testify their enjoyment of the tepid fluid."

The pool was closed in 1850 and built over and is now occupied by the St Luke's Estate where the trees are long since gone. There is Peerless Street and Bath Street (EC1) at the same location today, and they are not far from the indoor Ironmonger Row Baths (1931). In Baldwin Street may be found the "Old Fountain" public house.

[The above includes extensive extracts from Bathing in London from Mediæval to Georgian times by Anthony Waldstock from The Story of London website, now offline].

For further information see Janet Smith's book, p.12


Ruislip "Lido"

Reservoir Road, Ruislip, Middlesex
(now just a reservoir)

In 1933 work began to develop the area as a Lido, the reservoir already having been used for skating (when frozen) and swimming in the 1920s. A modern main building was built in the art-deco style in 1936 by George W. Smith and a swimming area constructed in the reservoir in front of this, which was done by laying a concrete base in (under) the water flanked on either side by piers, ie a "horseshoe" shape. The main building itself contained a cafeteria, the buildings either side of it housed on one side the turnstile and ticket area, and on the other side changing rooms. In May 1936 the Lido was formally opened by the Earl of Howe.

The Lido was a success. Attractions in its heyday include rowing boats, motor boats, paddle boats, children's playground, a beach and miniature railway, all built by the Grand Union Canal Company. Ruislip Lido also became famous as a water skiing area, with the world championships being held there.
In 1993 the main lido building was damaged by fire, and it was demolished in 1994.

So Ruislip "Lido" is now just a reservoir, although the miniature railway is still running. Swimming has not been permitted there for many years and all the facilities have been removed.



Silvertown Open Air Baths

Royal Victoria Gardens, Pier Road, off Albert Road, Silvertown, E16

Opened in 1922. The pool was approximately 100 x 40 ft in size (estimated from OS map). This pool was very close to London’s docklands and thus suffered damage from wartime bombing. The pool was subsequently officially closed in 1948, but from OS maps, was evidently still extant in 1956.


Southall Open Air Baths

Southall Recreation Ground, Florence Road, London W5

Opened May 1913, cost £1,600, 1931 extensions £3,120, 1931 filtration plant £1164, size 120 x 30 ft, 3’ - 6’3” deep. Closed in 1982. Now demolished.

Situated in the old part of Southall with the Grand Union Canal running along the south side.


Southgate: Barrowell Green Lido

Barrowell Green, London N21

Built in 1913, size 150 ft by 50 ft. Probably the open air pool for the old Borough of Southgate which merged with boroughs of Enfield and Edmonton in 1965, to become the Lonodn Borough of Enfield. It closed together with the Edmonton Lido in Houndsfield Road after 1979 season. The site is now used for dumping rubbish, recycling, etc.


Southlands Lido / Bromley Open Air Pool

Baths Road, Off Southlands Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 9RB

Ian Gordon writes:
Southlands Lido, or as it was known originally Bromley Open Air Pool, was built in 1925, converted to Leisure Club in 1980's and reduced in size. Architect: Stanley Hawkins; built using unemployed labour. Originally 150ft by 50ft. Cost £8,690. Depth 3ft 6ins to 8ft 9ins. Opened on 20 June 1925.

David Rutnam writes:
"I used to visit this pool 35 years ago, we used to call it Southlands Lido. I went there a few times with my friends by train from Petts Wood to Bickley, followed by a brief walk. It was always cold! I remember once getting quite excited because the pool temperature was shown as 70 degrees. I now take my children to an indoor pool in Gravesend - it is never cooler than 82!"

Renamed Bickley Lido in 1984. It now appears to be a private Spa or health club whose brochure once mentioned an "art deco-inspired design".

For a detailed history and state of the pool in 2007, see Andy Hoines' message to the Lidos Yahoo Group.


Southwark Park Lido

Gomm Road, SE16

One of three 180 x 60 ft LCC lidos built in 1923, max depth 7ft 6ins.
This lido closed in 1989, though an indoor pool was also built in Gomm Road. The lido was still visible on a London street atlas, 1997.

The site of the old pool has been developed into a children's playground, with the aerator fontain and a small store or plant room the only surviving structures.

In summer 1983 the Bermondsey Artists' Group acquired the lease for the derelict Lido Café and were given support by the council to make it usable as an art gallery. The gallery re-opened in 2001 as a fully accessible venue with extended exhibition facilities and a dedicated education workshop space.


St. Mary Cray: Lagoon Bathing Pool
also known as the "Blue Lagoon"

Lagoon Road, LB Orpington (now part of the Cray Industrial Estate).

This was a privately operated pool, opened in 1933 by E O’Sullivan, who intended to develop the surrounding area as a residential garden estate, complete with comprehensive leisure facilities. This was just in time to benefit from one of the hottest summers in living memory. The pool became a popular day-trip destination for Londoners, many of whom visited by train, using combined “rail-swim” tickets. Apart from the vast pool (approx 200 x 75 feet, estimated from OS map), there was also a putting course and tennis courts. The ambitions for further leisure facilities in the adjoining area were thwarted by Orpington Council, who had zoned the surrounding areas for light industry. The pool was closed to the public in 1939 after war broke out, drained and was never reopened. In 1951, The National Time Recorder Company Ltd built a new headquarters and works on the site. It is now warehouses.


Surbiton Lagoon

Raeburn Avenue, Berrylands, Surbiton, Surrey.

Ian Gordon writes:
Built 1934. Closed 1980, derelict in 1988 when I visited the site, now a housing development. Architect: H T Mather. Size: 165ft x 90ft. Opened 27 June 1934 on a 20 acre site at a cost of £18,000. Depth 3ft to 9ft. Freak floods in 1960 caused considerable damage but it was renovated. Floodlights and a cascade filtration system.

The Kingston Online website had this comment from J. Tait of New Malden:
"Surbiton Lagoon was an awesome place to be in the summer in the 1970s. The moment you got through the turnstiles and saw that big fountain you could feel the excitement. It had huge terraces where you could sunbathe all day, the pool was massive with a really deep, deep end, the girls looked great in their bikinis - Baywatch in Berrylands. They built another really boring housing development on it. Massive, massive shame it was closed down. It is sorely missed!"


Teddington Lido

Vicarage Road, Teddington TW11 8EZ

Opened 26 Aug 1931, 120 x 48 ft, 2ft 9ins - 10ft deep, 240,000 gallons, cost about £8,000, architect: H C Hunt.

Closed after 1975 season and reopened as an indoor pool complex in 1978, operating as Teddington Pool and Fitness Centre. There is a small open-air paddling pool (open May-Sept) at the back of the pool, in the public recreation area.


Tottenham Lido

Lordship Lane, Tottenham, N17

Opened 5 June 1937 by Mayor J H Morrell and officially called "The Tottenham Lido" from the start, cost £30,000. Replaced "Old Marshes Bath" after a long process begun in 1930 and delayed by the 1931 financial crisis and difficulty in getting Ministry of Health approval.

Size: 165 x 75 ft, double shallow end 3 to 6 ft deep, with a diving recess in middle of 10 by 60 ft recess up to 10 ft deep (thus eight-sided), 490,000 gallons. There were also extensive buildings to house the changing areas (424 lockers & 96 cubicles for each sex) and a two-storey main block with a clock tower. There was also a paddling pool, shaped like half of a polo mint. Designed & supervised by H F Wilkinson, Borough Engineer & Supervisor.

This pool was also heated from the outset to maintain 70F and was the 6th pre-war lido in London to be originally heated. (The others are Croydon Purley Way, Danson Park, Finchley, Martens Grove & Southbury Rd, Enfield).

The pool closed in 1985 (to be confirmed) and all buildings demolished. The site has now been redeveloped for housing, together with a significant part of the original Recreation Ground, as the appropriately named "Lido Square" estate. There is no trace of any of the original architecture, but the new estate respects its heritage by having its layout around a rectangular square.


Tottenham Marsh Swimming Pool

(Other names used "Tottenham Baths" or "Open Air Swimming Bath, Tottenham Marsh")

This pool was located in the Marshes next to Stonebridge Lock on the River Lea Navigation. Park Lane used to lead to the Pool and the lock. Present-day access to the site is from Marsh Lane, Tottenham Marshes, N17
(not far from Watermead Way, the new north-south route across the marshes)

Opened in 1905, size currently unknown, but it was obviously substantial from the photographs. In the early years it was open from 6am to 6pm between May and September. It reportedly had "brick and asphalte" buildings. By the 1930s, however, it was considered to have become out of date. It was, for instance, now judged to be unsuitable for schools' swimming instruction and also unhygienic. It was demolished in July 1939 following the building of Tottenham Lido in Lordship Lane.


Twickenham Lido

The site alongside the River Thames on which the old open air swimming pool stood "was first bought by Twickenham Council in 1924. The purchase was made by means of a loan from and under the official sanction of the Ministry of Health, for the express purpose of providing public walks and pleasure grounds. The land remained a public open space until the open air pool was opened. It was 165 ft x 55 ft, 3 - 10 ft deep (double shallow ended), capacity 310,000 gallons, with 6 hr filtration, and cost £19,000. It was officially opened on 4 May 1935, and is reported to have had the first “Rotatherm” air and water temperature gauge to be installed in an English swimming bath (see the photograph on p.47 of Janet Smith's book.

The pool and its substantial buildings, was considered for closure or replacement by an indoor pool as early as 1947. The pool suffered from various structural and electrical problems in the 1970s, these were repaired and the pool continued to be open. Following the opening of the nearby Teddington indoor pool in 1978 and further budget constraints, Richmond Council closed Twickenham pool after the 1980 season for "refurbishment". It remained closed since that year although the Caretaker's House and Café were rented to voluntary organisations since 1982". The original pool buildings were subject to much vandalism and graffiti.

2005: Some pool buildings and the tank were demolished, pending development plans by Richmond Council.

See also the www.twickenham-museum.org.uk website.


Valence Park Lido, Dagenham

Valence Park, Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, Essex RM8 3HT

Valence Park Swimming Bath opened in 1931 as part of the LCC Becontree Estate. Size: 150 x 50 ft, architect: T P Francis. It closed after the 1971 season, following the opening of the new indoor pool at Beacontree Heath in March 1972, and was demolished.


Victoria Park Lido, Hackney


Victoria Park was created in 1884 in response to demands by the local people for a recreational area. Plans for open air baths in the park were submitted in 1934. It was designed by by H A Rowbotham and T L Smithson, architects in the LCC Parks Department at a cost £25,000. It formed an almost identical pair with the pool in Brockwell Park. It boasted a shingle "beach", diving boards and chutes, a huge pool (200 ft by 90 ft), a capacity of 650,000 gallons, and a cafe accessible from both the park and pool. It was designed so no shadow was cast in the bathing enclosure. The facilities were impressive and included 5-hour turnover filtration, 1020 lockers and space for 1000 bathers. Originally admission was free three days a week (five days for children). Victoria Park Lido was opened in May 1936 by Herbert Morrison, MP - sometimes nicknamed the East End Lido.

It was extensively damaged during WWII, but reopened in May 1952 after £30,000 of repairs. It was demolished in 1990, and by 1991 there was no trace that it ever had existed.


Photo: The Lido in Victoria Park in 1952.

In the scorching summer of 1976, there was reported to be a riot, when the doors were locked due to overcrowding. This was too much for the large crowd queuing for admission, who smashed their way in. Around 900 people swam for free that day! The pool was then closed for 2 days for repairs. The next week, the pool closed again due to a national shortage of chlorine. The pool survived GLC closure proposals in the early 1980s, but, ironically, then became a victim of the demise of the GLC in 1986, when Victoria Park passed into the joint control of Tower Hamlets and Hackney councils.

There was a long tradition of swimming in this park. The original bathing lake was open for men and boys only from 4am to 8am in the summer. Tens of thousands flocked to use it, causing it to become most unhygienic, which encouraged bathers to return to the nearby canal! A second lake, twice the size of the original, was made to the south, with an improved water flow. This too became unsanitary, even when the flow of fresh water was increased to 30,000 gallons between 6am and 8am. A winter swimming club was formed, the lake extended and some facilities such as changing cubicles and diving boards were added. Around 1876 a new lake was built, 650 ft by 127 ft, up to 6 ft deep and containing about 3 million gallons of water. This was considered "the finest swimming bath in the world" and as many as 25,000 bathers were counted before 8am on summer mornings. Eventually, women were allocated the old disused swimming lake for their use. The lido was built to replace these lakes, which were closed in 1934 due to their obsolescence and unsanitary conditions.

For a detailed history and photographs of this lido, see Janet Smith's book, pp. 114-115.


Wandsworth Open Air Pool

in King George's Park, Mapleton Road, SW18

Designed by council architect Ernest J Elford, and constructed by the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth. It was opened on 6 May 1938. 165 ft by 60 ft, 2 ft 6 ins to 10 ft deep, 385,000 gallons. On a site of 1.5 acres, it cost £22,386, half of this paid by the LCC.

In 1985, the pool was privatised and taken over by a company called Kunick Leisure Services, who were also behind the Scarborough North Bay complex, which was considered very successful. They spent £750,000 and three months to convert it into a complex known then as Water Scenes, which officially opened in July 1985. Famously, they installed twin 200 ft long water slides from a 65 ft tower, which were described as "London’s longest and fastest". They also installed a large conservatory style jacuzzi and a crazy golf corner. The main pool was split into two, but they both remained open-air. Heating was also installed and the pools were maintained at 80 degF. In 1987 Quidsworth, a company owned by the circus supremo Gerry Cottle, bought the complex and renamed it the The Big Splash in honour of the slides. The 1987 season was certainly launched in style, with underwater entertainment including jazz, an accompanying play called Whale Nation, classical music and even an underwater tap-dancing frogman!

This flirtation with the private sector was short-lived and the council took over the pool in 1988 and reduced the admission price from £3 to £1.50 for adults. The pool closed for good after the 1993 season, despite an very active campaign to try to save it.

The deficit was reported to have increased to £100,000 a year and the council argued that the site should be redeveloped for alternative year-round leisure use, with Tooting Bec being maintained as the borough‘s outdoor swimming pool. The site was redeveloped as a £1.5m indoor tennis and bowls centre following a public inquiry in 1994. This was very contentious, not least because the pool site was on the edge of King George’s Park.


Wembley Open Air Baths

Vale Farm, Watford Road, Wembley, Middlesex HA0 3HG

This pool was opened in 1932 and cost £17,000. It was 165 ft by 75 ft, with depth of 3 to 8 ft 6 ins, and a capacity of 400,000 gallons. Designed by C Chapman. The pool closed after 1978 season, to be replaced by the Vale Farm Sports Centre, with a a 25 m main indoor pool, built partly over the outdoor pool site.


West Ham Lido

Canning Town Park (now Beckton Park), E16

Replaced an earlier open-air pool (approx 100 by 50 ft) on the Recreation Ground from 1900 built by private subscription, which closed in 1933.
West Ham Lido opened on 30 August 1937, cost £23,900, 165 x 90 feet, 3 ft double shallow ends, 6’6” in middle with 10’6” diving pit, 472,000 gallons. Designed by W Lionel Jenkins, Borough Engineer. Heating must have been added sometime later.

It was still open for a traditional four month season in 1985, and for three months in 1986 probably its last season. It was demolished in the 1990s. Now part of the site is used for the A13.

(Beckton is now home to the largest sewage treatment works in Europe).


Whipps Cross Lido

This lido was off Snaresbrook Road, E11, near the Hollow Pond at the Southern end of Epping Forest.

Opening of the new bathing pool at Whipps Cross, 7th May 1932.

This lido evolved from the Hollow Ponds Bathing Pool, first dug in 1905 and fed by natural springs. Despite works to progressively line the bathing pond with concrete in the 1920s, the pool remained renowned for its mud! In 1932 £6,000 was spent, in a joint effort by Leyton & Walthamstow borough councils, to further improve conditions for swimming. Four large dressing rooms were provided and a great deal of mud was reportedly removed from the bottom of the pool during the work to level and cleanse the pool. The pool was still described as irregularly oval at this stage, but with a straight 100 yard section for racing. The pool was still fed by the natural springs, however, and during a hot summer in 1933 become so unhygienic that it was forced to close early for the season.

Further work was undertaken to convert the pool into a modern chemically treated and filtered lido, and this opened in 1937. This was still a very large pool, 300 ft by 130 ft, 3’6” - 5’6” deep, capacity 1.3 million gallons. There was also a unique 63 ft diameter and 10 feet deep circular diving basin, connected to the main pool.

The pool was closed for 2 summers in 1970 and 1971, but was reopened after a £29,000 refurbishment. It was reported that the pool suffered from extensive vandalism during 1970-71 and 24-hour security was introduced when the pool was re-opened to combat this problem. The pool was closed for good in September 1982 and was demolished in 1983.

Edward Ward writes:
"This pool, just off the Whipps Cross roundabout, was closed (and filled in by the Corporation of London) in the early 1980s. Pipes, a road and embankments remain".

T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") purchased several small plots of land on the top of nearby Pole Hill, Epping Forest, where he built a hut and swimming pool - both now gone.

Additional photograph - a school outing.


Willesden: Craven Park Lido

Craven Park, NW10 (access alongside railway). This swimming pool has been described as being in Stonebridge district.

Opened 1 June 1935, size 165 x 60 ft, 2ft 6ins (double shallow end) to 10 ft deep, 400,000 gallons filtered every 4 hrs. Architect: F Wilkinson. Badly damaged during WWII and never reopened - lay derelict until at least 1965.

The location was described as being on a triangular plot of slightly over 1 acre and accessible both from Craven Park and Denbigh Road (the latter road has now disappeared or renamed, as it no longer evident on maps of the area).
According to Anne Jessel the site is currently a car park for local housing.

The history of this pool is described by Anne Jessel in her So Dive In website.


Willesden: King Edward's Pool

Donningdon Rd, NW10

The Open Space was part of a 1909 purchase by Willesden Urban District Council. It was extended again in 1924 to form the current King Edward VII Recreation Ground. Willesden Sports Centre and stadium were originally opened in 1965.

This pool opened on 15 July 1911, 165 ft by 75 ft, 365,000 gallons. A filtration plant was added in 1928.

In October 1966, a new £435,000 indoor pool complex was built alongside the outdoor pool, which continued in use. Sunbathing terraces were incorporated into the design of the indoor sports centre. The new indoor pool had a dramatic effect in increasing patronage, but this was partly offset by a decline in attendances at other local outdoor pools.

Andy writes:
"The outdoor pool was closed and filled in by the time I visited in 1992. Staff at the indoor pool told me that it closed in 1989. A statue (The Spirit of Youth by Freda Skinner) was then still standing in the outdoor pool, although it has now gone. This entire complex is due for complete redevelopment into a new leisure centre, with the old lido site (still clearly visible at the moment) due to become a sunken lawn."

Rochelle Bloch writes:
"This pool may have been called King Edward's Pool and was closed in about 1986/7 I think. Anyway it was fab and then it closed - something about the foundations being dodgy and Brent Council not having the dosh. Sadly they have now completely filled it in."


Yiewsley Swimming Pool

Otterfield Road, Yiewsley, Middlesex

Opened 1934, covered over in 1976 and pool still in operation, I believe by a trust. This trust ran also ran Uxbridge Lido during one of its several reopenings.
(main source: West Drayton & Yiewsley, by James Skinner, p38)

Graham writes:
"From the front, the entrance looks very much like a traditional lido frontage but I'd imagine that virtually everything behind it was removed when they were putting the roof on."

From old maps, the size of the outdoor pool is estimated as about 120 ft by 30 ft.


Other very short-lived outdoor pools


Acknowlegements:
Janet Smith; several photographs and postcard scans supplied by Ian Gordon;
The aerial photographs are copyright: the GeoInformation Group or getmapping.com

Oliver Merrington

Note that I no longer respond to press enquiries, or to individuals seeking filming venues, due to other commitments.
Updated April 2006.
Minor edits, February 2011.