Mapped: London's Lost Lidos

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 79 months ago

Last Updated 22 November 2017

Mapped: London's Lost Lidos

London's awash with lidos, but not half as much as it used to be. Plenty of outdoor swimming pools have been abandoned, demolished and replaced throughout the years. We've dredged up the details of some.

For this article, we're focusing solely on outdoor swimming pools and baths. Plenty of indoor swimming pools have been lost too, but that's another story for another day.

Take a look at where these magnificent watery constructions once were, and then find out how their downfall came about.

Houndsfield Lido, Edmonton

Edmonton's Houndsfield Lido was the first outdoor pool in the UK to officially be called a 'lido', so named when it reopened after refurbishment in 1935 (it had originally opened in 1927). It was located on Houndsfield Road in Edmonton, and closed in late 1979. There is now housing on the site.

Larkswood Lido, Chingford

Larkswood Lido, also known as Chingford Lido, opened on New Road in Chingford in 1936. The pool itself was cross-shaped and it was believed to be the biggest lido in London, covering over seven acres including the grassy picnic area surrounding the pool.

TV show It's A Knockout was once filmed at Larkswood Lido, before it closed in 1987. It was left empty before the site was taken over by FantaSeas water park in 1990 (presumably nothing to do with the fizzy orange drink). It only lasted a couple of years — during which time several serious accidents occurred — before it was shut down in 1992, along with the Dartford FantaSeas Park.

The site remained derelict for nearly 10 years before Larkswood Leisure Centre opened on the site in 2001, now better known as Chingford Leisure Centre.

Larkswood Lido in its heyday. Photo: Guardian Series

Chiswick Baths

Chiswick Baths opened in 1910 — however by 1981 it had become too expensive for the council to maintain, and it was closed down. Half of the site is now home to the Moldovian Embassy, the other half is where the Chiswick New Pool was built.

BFI has several clips of Chiswick Baths in use in the 1920s. Although the facility wasn't officially known as a 'lido', it is now thought of as one of Britain's first.

Danson Park Lido, Welling

Also known as Bexley Swimming Pool, Danson Park Lido was built in 1936. It had separate children's pools, and diving boards at one end. It closed in 1979 due to vandalism, and was grassed over in 1982

This video shows where it was once located.

Gladstone Park, Dollis Hill

Little is known about the open air pool which opened in Gladstone Park in 1903. It has now been grassed over and a bowling green is on the site.

Neon Signs seen at the Carnaby Street exhibition God's Own Junkyard in 2010. Photo: Simon Kimber

Alexandra Park Road

Alexandra Park Open Air Baths date back to May 1875. Little information about the specific location is available, but it's thought the pools were located between the race course and the New River Reservoirs, on what is now a marshy area. They closed in the 1920s or 1930s.

Muswell Hill Open Air Pool

Durnsford Road was home to Muswell Hill Open Air Pool from 1934 until it closed in 1988. The Sunshine Garden Centre now occupies the site.

Tottenham Lido

The Broadwater Farm Estate is on the site where Tottenham Lido used to be. Photo: Alan Denney (for a photo of the lido, click here)

Tottenham Lido in Lordship Lane opened in 1937 on Broadwater Farm. It was closed for the duration of the second world war, but reopened afterwards until it closed in 1985. It apparently closed due to vandalism after a group of travellers moved onto the site. It was demolished to make way for the Broadwater Farm housing estate, which occupies the site today.

Tottenham Marsh Swimming Pool

The pool at Tottenham Marshes opened in 1905 but was finally demolished in July 1939, just two years after the Tottenham Lido opened.

Surbiton Lagoon

Sounds exotic, no? Sadly photos of the lagoon aren't easy to come by, so we can't confirm whether this south west London swimming pool was as tropical as it purported to be.

Surbiton Lagoon opened in 1934 and closed in 1980. Unlike most other lost lidos, it wasn't a decline in use that forced it to close, but rather the council closed it (and the nearby Coronation Baths) to allow the area to benefit from one state-of-the-art pool, which was funded by selling off the two existing swimming pool sites. Housing now occupies the site of the lagoon.

The diving board at Wyevale Garden Centre - a reminder of its former life. Photo from Derelict London

Purley Way Lido, Croydon

Visitors to Croydon's Wyevale Garden Centre on Waddon Way can't fail to notice the diving board, plonked unapologetically among the geraniums and hydrangeas. It's a Grade II listed structure, so won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

The garden centre sits on the site of the former Purley Way Lido, which opened in 1935 and closed in 1979, after hosting international polo matches (thanks largely due to its location close to Croydon Airport), as well as up to 9,000 visitors a day.

When the lido was closed, an indoor leisure centre was initially built in its place, before it was replaced with a garden centre, and then taken over by Wyevale.

More about Purley Way Lido (PDF).

West Ham/Canning Town/Beckton Lido

This one lido seems to have had three names, depending on who you spoke to. Either way, it opened in 1937 on the site of an earlier pool.

The exact date of its closure is hard to come by, but it's thought that the summer of 1986 was its last season, and it was demolished in the 1990s. The spot it stood on is now part of the A13.

For more information on lost lidos, we recommend the excellent Lost Lidos website and Lidos in London no longer open.

Do you have memories or photos of swimming in these lidos, or any others in London, or know any that we've missed? Share your stories in the comments below.