INTERVIEW: London Lido A-Go-Go

By Craigie_B Last edited 136 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).


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.


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...

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

Last Updated 22 October 2007