We recently learned of the death of Jean Phelps aged 89. For much of her life she lived in the Brixton/Dulwich area and as a schoolgirl swam at the recently opened Lido, and subsequently encouraged her children and grandchildren to do the same.
In the noughties she started swimming in the early mornings, often being one of the first in the pool. When year-round swimming began she continued the activity despite the cold, but liked to luxuriate in the warmth of the sauna and spa pool afterwards. Regrettably, Covid restrictions and, perhaps inevitably, the cold eventually deterred her from swimming more recently, but she was there in spirit.
In 2007 Jean was interviewed for Out of the Blue* when she recalled her excitement and the sense of achievement in conquering her fear of deep water at the Lido. In the 1940s she remembered joining her friends climbing on the fountain which used to be positioned near the shallow end. She recalled that although the fountain was “out of bounds so far as the attendants were concerned…. when backs were turned we loved to climb on it and feel the water rushing down from above.” Her sister-in-law, Thelma Phelps, was the 15-year-old schoolgirl thrown into the pool by the Mayor at the Opening Ceremony on 10 July 1937.
Jean loved the Lido, the enjoyment it gave her and her family, and the local community over the years. She was grateful that so many people, especially those in BLU, had ensured Brockwell survived the national cull of lidos in the 1980s/90s. That such a facility would continue to give enjoyment to future generations pleased her immensely.
*Out of the Blue – A celebration of Brockwell Park Lido 1937-2007: by Peter Bradley