Tooting Lido

For me Tooting Lido is one of the most incredible places in the UK. Not only is it huge (the pool measures 100 x 33 yards – a staggering 30,000 square feet of water), but swimming in the middle of one of London’s most beautiful commons, surrounded by trees, blackberry bushes, the multicoloured changing rooms (which are apparently listed) and the sound of bird song (as well as the clatter of the occasional train), is a joy to behold.

According to SLSC, it is is one of Britain’s oldest lidos: it was built in just four months in the spring of 1906. It did not become a ‘lido’ until the thirties – when the term became widely used – it was originally known as Tooting Bathing-Lake.The pool, at the eastern end of Tooting Common in south-west London, opened to the public on Saturday 28 July 1906. It was intended partly as a communal bath as very few homes in 1906 had their own bathrooms. It is now the biggest open-air pool in the country.

Back in 1906, the Rev. Anderson, the man behind the pool being built, said he hoped it would be ‘a benefit to the public for a long time to come.’ He can hardly have imagined that a hundred years later, people from south London and beyond, would still be swimming in his bathing-lake and delighting in it.

Anyway, although it is lovely when there are lots of people enjoying the vast expanse of water, it is at its best at about 7.00am in the morning, when the sun is out, and only a handful of people are taking the plunge. Here’s some shots at exactly that time of day. They are also taken before some b**tards stole the safety rail that used to surround the pool. Who would have thought that the recession and swimming could have collided in such a sad way?

A couple of hours later …

One Response to “Tooting Lido”

  1. Nice blog Tom. What about Brockwell Lido? Here’s a start – a friend of mine made a short film about winter swimming and ‘breaking the ice’

    Keep up the good work
    Jonny x

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