THE HISTORY OF THE LIDO

 

1891

On March 28th, two thirds of Brockwell Estate is purchased for a public park. In October a group of local residents petition London County Council (LCC)  to create a pond.

1892

LCC votes to make a pond suitable for bathing. When it is built, only men and children are able to swim there.

1898

LCC agrees to concrete the lake following concerns about unsanitary conditions. The work is subsequently completed in 1900. Local byelaws are changed to allow cyclists to ride to the lake before 8am.

1929

Women are allowed to bathe in the lake for the first time.

1930

Serpentine Lido opens, the first pool in the UK to be called a lido. The word comes from the Lido of Venice, a spit of land known for its beaches and upmarket hotels. It marks a period when several open air swimming baths are built, all borrowing from the glamour of Venice by calling themselves lidos.

1934-1936

LCC proposes closing the lake. It is emptied and refilled with chlorinated water but closed during the summer and only reopened again in October 1934. LCC invites tenders for a new open air swimming bath in Brockwell Park. Eventually it agrees a site with the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth (MBL) and work commences based on designs by Harry Rowbotham and T L Smithson, who go on to design Parliament Hill Lido. The contractor is G Percy Trentham Ltd, who is given a budget of £27,000 (£1,920,000 when adjusted for inflation to 2020). The site is dug by hand by Irish navvies.

1937

Building work is completed. The pool is 165ft long, 90ft wide and holds 600,000 gallons. It features a deep end of 9ft 6in and a shallow end of 2ft 6in. On Saturday July 10th Brockwell Lido is formally opened. Local schoolgirl Thelma Phelps, who would go onto a distinguished career as a doctor, is (un)ceremoniously thrown into the pool by the Mayor of Lambeth.

1939-1945

Brockwell Lido remains open during the War years for the summer season and part of the winter season. It hosts galas in 1942, 1943 and 1945. The 1944 gala is cancelled because of flying bomb attacks.

1950S AND 1960S

The pool remains a popular venue, hosting Swimming Championship Area meetings for 22 consecutive years between 1947 and 1968.

1972

The diving stages and springboards are removed.

1984-1988

The Lido is closed for major repairs. Asbestos is found on the site. In 1988 the summer season of the Lido is cancelled. The previous year Peckham Lido was closed and filled in.

1990

Lambeth Council closes the Lido. For the next three years the site hosts squatters, art displays, performances and displays. A local campaign, led by Michael Boyle, is started to save the Lido.

1994

Lambeth Council hands a lease to Paddy Castledine and Casey McGlue to run the Lido. It is known locally as Brixton Beach. They will end up running it through to 2007. At one point they persuade bottled water brand Evian to paint their logo on the bottom of the pool for a £100,000 sponsorship fee, and the pool is briefly renamed "Evian Lido".

2001

Three local women, Judy Holme, Mary Hill and Yvonne Levy, form a new user group called "Friends of the Lido", which will become BLU. They form a steering group which will help shape the future of the Lido and work to keep it open. They help oversee the tender process that appoints Fusion Lifestyle, who now manage the site.

2003

Brockwell Lido is Grade II listed by English heritage.

2006

At the end of the summer season, work begins on an extensive renovation, which involves plans to extend the south facade of the site six metres into Brockwell Park.

2007

Renovation work is completed. It costs £2,725,000 and provides an additional 1,471sq m. The Lido reopens on Monday 2nd July. Nobody is thrown into the pool by the Mayor of Lambeth.

 

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