Londoners might feel they are missing out on the outdoor beach fun to be had at hot spots like Brighton. But a trip to one of your local open-air pools is one way you can escape the heat and bustle of the city’s streets..or if there is no heat, you’ll certainly escape the crowds.
For a splash of Art Deco glamour jump on the Gatsby bandwagon this summertime with a visit to the Brockwell Lido. Tucked away in a leafy corner of Brockwell Park, the Olympic sized pool is set against an historic Grade II listed building.
The pool dates back to the 1930s, designed in the grand Art Deco style. It was originally built to replace a much older bathing pond. The adjacent house was created as a replica of another beautiful Lido in Victoria Park that no longer exists.
Throughout the 1930s the pool was a popular escape for many Londoners holding community events and diving competitions. Since then the Lido has won the affection of the local community. This was no more in evidence than in 2003 when, faced with the prospect of the pool’s closure due to funding cuts, loyal regulars banded together to create the Brockwell Lido Users (BLU) and put pressure on the council to keep this jewel in Lambeth’s crown.
Members praise the pool’s friendly relaxed atmosphere and work together to preserve the pool for the local community.
Yvonne Levy, one of three founders of the BLU, sees the Lido as more than a place to exercise. “The pool has a bit of everything. The gym is fabulous and there is a classy little café too but the real specialness surrounds the pool itself. People come together around it. It’s not somewhere that you just turn up, go for a swim, get dressed and leave. It’s a place where people relax, sunbathe, have a bit of a chat – socialise.”
Celebrity sightings at the pool include comedian Jo Brand. Playing host to a Christmas charity event, Brand cheered on over 300 people as they took a plunge in the chilly waters last December. The Only Way is Essex stars Joey Essex and Lucy Mecklenburgh have also made an appearance at the pool – clad in swimming costumes and frolicking with an inflatable ball for a photo shoot.
Since 2003 £3 million has been used to lovingly restore the Lido to its original splendour. The regeneration included the preservation of pool’s pavilion buildings and a charming geometric clock – a 1930s original. But it’s not all chevrons and zigzags. Brixton’s Beach, as it is affectionately known, also includes modern changing facilities, a state-of-the-art gym and studio space. Pop into the Lido Cafe for seasonal refreshments, a spot of afternoon tea or even a candlelit dinner overlooking the pool.
The Lido is hosting an open weekend on June 29 and 30. Visitors will have the opportunity to take part in free pool-side activities. Fans of the gym will also benefit from chance to secure a gym membership without free from any joining fee.
More outdoor swimming
Decathlon Big Summer Splash
Urban swim festival The Big Splash returns this summer to Surrey Quays Decathlon Store. Offering visitors an open-air swimming pool, the festival is affordable day out for families. A stones throw from Rotherhithe Overground Station, the festival is offering a weekend programme of low cost swimming lessons to youngsters. If you sigh up for a Decathlon Card you can enjoy the pool for free!
The Big Summer Splash will be ongoing throughout June, July and August.
To sign up for a Decathlon card or for more information visit http://www.decathlon.co.uk/ecuk/m/zip/11500_1_3.zip_dir/big-splash.html
or check in Decathlon Surrey Quays for details.
Tooting Bec Lido
With its 90-metre basin, Tooting Bec Lido is the largest freshwater, open-air pool in England. The Lido is a family-friendly environment with a paddling pool for children, flanked by a shady gazebo area for those who want to keep out of the sun. A new café offers drinks and treats for hungry swimmers. Disabled facilities include showers, toilets and changing areas.
For more information visit
Inviting as it may (occasionally) look, do not be tempted to take a dip in Mother Thames. A bout of upset tummies following a race through the mucky water in October lead to a public health warning being issued in May. Swimmers competing in the two- mile Human Race contracted nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting. Stay on the shore!
Stay, Play and Paddle
Not only housing an Old English flower garden, tennis courts and the lovely lido, Brockwell Park also boasts a fantastic paddling pool for small children. Complete with fountain, islands and a nearby sandpit the kids will be amused for hours, leaving you to shiver on a blanket enjoy the sunshine. http://www.brockwellpark.com