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INTERVIEW: London Lido A-Go-Go

By Craigie_B Last edited 112 months ago
INTERVIEW: London Lido A-Go-Go

Despite the odd recent mishap, London's lidos take their rightful alongside our parks as great places to go around the capital.

70 years ago lidos were people's cathedrals, masterful municipal palaces to promote community health and wellbeing. Over the years since then they have been left derelict or sold off. But now, they are having their renaissance. Blame global warming for warmer temperatures or the Olympics for increased interest in health - but outdoor pools are making a comeback across London, from Uxbridge to Hackney (where the pool is even heated).

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In Brockwell Park (near Brixton), the lido there has always been a cool place to go in the Summer - but it's just been re-opened after a hefty refurb that seemed to take eons. Londonist caught up with Jeremy from the lido to find out what's been going on and whether it's all done yet:

Hello, Lido Person. What's your name? What do you do at Brockwell Lido?

I'm Jeremy Lake, hullo - I'm the General Manager of the place.

So what actually *is* a lido, anyway?

A lido is a large public outdoor swimming pool with all the surrounding facilities it needs, often built in the art deco period of the 1930s. Brockwell Lido opened in 1937 and is Grade II listed.

What's happened there recently - we hear it's all been refurbished and made all sparkly and nice?

The local authority brought in Fusion, a registered charity, to look after the new facility. We received some funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to refurbish and regenerate the pool and everything around it to return the park to the best parts of its history, but also modernise it extensively.

So it's more than a cold pool, now? What's been added?

Well, there's a modern gym for start. There are hydrotherapy pools, a steamroom, sauna and studios for classes like yoga. Your readers would be very welcome to come along and have a look. There's a different ethos to commercial gyms, though - every penny received is reinvested in the place - we don't have shareholders to pay, so whenever someone visits it helps sustain one of the few remaining open-air pools in London for future generations.

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Brockwell park is one of our favourites, with the coffee shop on the top of the hill, and the lido at the bottom. Perfect in the summer to lay in the sun and have a dip in the cold water. Will it still shut in winter?

This is a major change. Crucially we will now be open throughout the year, not just the summer - which means we can offer a great health, vitality and well-being facility for the local community. The refurbishment is now complete - so while the swimming pool itself will be closed for the winter it will reopen in May 2008 but everything else will be open in the meantime.

Is there somewhere nice for a cup of tea and a coconut macaroon?

We're working on that. In Spring the beautiful original café will reopen offering tea, macaroons and much more.

Evian once sponsored the lido years ago. We hear the refurbishment was delayed as they found a rogue Thames Water main that no one knew existed there, including Thames Water. Shouldn't they now sponsor the lido like Evian once did?

Now there's an interesting idea! Perhaps you should ask them?

Have you ever been sick on the underground?

Erm, no - but I've seen that happen and maybe smelt it a few times...

http://www.brockwell-lido.com/

Images provided by the lido. Thanks to Rob Mono for the idea of the interview.

Last Updated 22 October 2007

onionbagblogger

About four months too late with this post, but well done anyway. Fusion are GOOD people, Lambeth Council are knobbers.

Why didn't you take the opportunity to question more the apathy towards the lovely lido by Lambeth Council? There's a link (and a story) between Lambeth's running down of leisure in the Borough and the lido is central to all of this.

Nice and fluffy, better luck next time.

CRAiG

Thanks, er, onion.

The interview aims to highlight a facility to Londoners that they might not know about.

Nice rant, though, thanks for contributing.

Anyone who's bored and wants to read some angst, feel free to go to onion whatsit's blog. I tried but got bored. Better luck next time, maybe?

Brixtonian

I love the Lido and the fact that someone (Fusion) has done something with it. Sure Lambeth may not have made the most of the opportunity but at least they passed the Lido over to someone who could... I'm sure Lambeth has bigger problems to worry about.

If Lambeth had handed it over to a for-profit entity THEN I'd be angry.

I think Fusion have done a much better job than any local authority could have justified with a public purse.

onionbagblogger

Cheers for the namecheck, craIg. Next time you get to interview Gordon Brown, don't forget to ask him where he buys his underpants from.

yawn...

CRAiG

thanks again for the insight!

londonrocks

Is'nt it easy to pass comment on an entire council by posting a comment on something that is truely good for the community.

BroCkwell Lido is an amazing undertaking and an excellent facility for all of London. I heartily welcome any exposure that it can get. We all desevre to know about it.

Fluffy interview? I didn't think so. It did what it set out to do. It highlighted a facility in London that we all deserve to know about. If you want to pass comment on the 'Knobbishness' of a council (nice touch by the way, very grown up) then write about it in an article called 'Lambeth council are Knobs'. The Lido deserves promoting not being used as a vent for your frustration with the cost of your council tax.

I say this as a hearty Londoner. Nothing is ever perfect but let's celebrate a success when it comes along.

Gotta say I love CRAiG's posts. He won me with the Kirsty Maccoll highlight and I have to agree with him. Onionbagblogger writes a pretty dull blog

CRAiG

There are views from long-term users of the lido up here: http://www.brockwelllido.com/

mdj

Waltham Forest used to have a Lido, closed about 25-30 years ago. The site sits within the boundaries of Epping Forest, near Whipps Cross, but isn't doing anything. With modern insulation and solar heating, such a pool could be a year-long attraction. However, if you want to know how our Council thinks about visionary schemes, please read the nearby item, Save the William Morris Gallery