Here’s a really nice piece on some stunning pools that have been abandoned in the UK on the website Urban Ghosts … well worth a look. Click here
Archive for the News Category
Something to warm the cockles this Yuletide. Click on this link to hear the wonderful Lido Song performed by Chris Stanton and the Big Splash (feat. The Dive-in Belles) at Tooting Bec Lido. Photography by Kat Robinson & Sue Brearley. Audio & visual production by Tom Robinson. Hilarious.
While we’re at it, don’t forget to put 26 January 2013 into your diary. The South London Swimming Club will be hosting the 5th UK Cold Water Swimming Championships at Tooting Bec Lido. This biennial event has become a must for cold water swimmers, attracting both the experienced cold water swimmer and people who are trying it for the first time. Age and ability is no barrier as, with water temperatures as low as 3°C, jumping in for the 30 yard races is a challenge in itself.
The Cold Water Swimming Championships celebrates the fun and camaraderie of cold water swimming and the competiton is often just friendly but can also be fierce. There are a variety of races this year, from the traditonal “head-up” breaststroke, the freestyle dash and relays to the 450 metre challenge for the really fool hardy. To help the competitors recover there will be a Finnish sauna available after the races as well as good food, a host of stalls and entertainment going on throughout the day.
Click here for a little preview film. See you there.
One day in the distant future when the kids have grown up and ‘er indoors and I retire, we have decided we will move to the Barbican in London EC1. Grade II listed in 2001, the complex is one of London’s principal examples of concrete Brutalist architecture and considered a landmark. We both love it, although I think if we sell our house we might just be able to afford one of the studios there. Looks like the kids will have to fend for themselves.
Right next to the Barbican is the Golden Lane Estate a 1950s council housing complex in the City of London built in an area devastated by bombing during World War II.
The competition for designs was announced in 1951, and at a time when post WW II recovery was still slow, the opportunity to design such an estate attracted a lot of interest among architects. The competition and entries to it were covered in the architectural and popular press. Golden Lane Estate is important as the first work of the partnership formed when Geoffry Powell won the competition to build the estate on 26 February 1952. The three partners-to-be of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon (who later designed the Barbican) were all lecturers in architecture Kingston School of Art and had entered into an agreement that if any one of them won, they would share the commission. The estate included leisure facilities, including the recently restored Grade II listed swimming pool.
I have been visiting the Barbican for years and had never even heard of the pool. I am so pleased that I made the effort to go and find it. Golden Lane Fitness is not only a delightful pool to enjoy a few turns, but the staff are excellent, and the surroundings and view through the glass paneled walls make it worth every single penny. Although amazingly this time it didn’t cost me a bean. Arriving straight from a thoroughly tedious meeting, soaking wet having been caught in a sudden down pour, I arrived at the leisure centre without any cash. To top it off the centre’s card machine didn’t work. No matter said the incredibly welcoming chap behind the desk: “Why don’t you just pay me next time you visit?” Really? This is unprecedented. I think you get so used to people being shitty about things – by you not having the right change, no padlock, etc etc – that when someone is pleasant it is a bit strange. Not only that, when I point out that I didn’t have any change for the locker, he lends me a quid. Brilliant.
The Grade II Listed pool is located at the heart of the celebrated Estate. The ‘L’ shaped Centre is wrapped around a quadrangle and is the conglomeration of two formerly separated buildings; the two storey swimming pool and badminton court and the single storey club rooms. A key aim of the recent refurbishment was to provide a wide range of fitness options for residents and visitors, encouraging greater use of the leisure centre, generating greater income and modernising it to a standard that allows it to serve the community for years to come.
To achieve this, refurbishment has also included the badminton court and changing rooms, added a new gym and dance studio and created a new, fully accessible, reception area and circulation routes. It really works
Occasionally it is used as a venue for other activities. A couple of years ago the pool was used by Sky+HD for a special screening of the film Titanic
People turned up in Victorian costume and sat through the film in rowing boats for the screening. It transformed the Golden Lane swimming pool in London back to the high seas of 1912. Incredible.
Anyway, get yourself down there if you get the opportunity. It really is a wonderful pool. I am going to go again today, if nothing more than to repay my debt to the chap on reception.
Last night I had the absolute pleasure of watching Wild Swimming on BBC4 presented by anatomist, author and broadcaster Alice Roberts. It was brilliant, inspirational, thrilling – and I would recommend getting on to the iPlayer and catch it while you still have the chance.
Roberts – best known for presenting BBC2’s Coast and the Incredible Human Journey – embarks on a quest to discover what lies behind the passion for wild swimming, now becoming increasingly popular in Britain. She follows in the wake of Waterlog: a swimmer’s journey through Britain, the classic book by the late journalist and author, Roger Deakin – a key note text for any outdoor swimming connoisseur.
Her journey takes in cavernous plunge pools, languid rivers and unfathomable underground lakes, as well as a skinny dip in a moorland pool. Along the way Alice becomes aware that she is not alone on her watery journey.
According to writer Ken Worpole’s obituary of Deakin in 2006: ‘It is said that only exceptional politicians are able to make their own weather. The same is true of writers. Roger Deakin, the writer and environmentalist who sadly died on Saturday 19 August 2006, literally changed the climate of opinion about access to the countryside, its rivers and waterways, with his 1999 book, Waterlog: a swimmer’s journey through Britain. It is a unique book and it will last for a very long time in the canon of British topographical and naturalist writing.
The launch of the book was memorable. Invitations to the party suggested that guests bring swimming costumes. The event was held at the Oasis open-air swimming pool in central London, where a poolside band fronted by Jacqui Dankworth played Loudon Wainwright III’s wonderful Swimming Song, amongst other joyful and upbeat music.”
Now that summer is almost upon us, go and get yourself a copy of Deakin’s book, dust off your road map of the UK, and go and find some of the great outdoor pools and rivers that nature has given – for free!
Brilliant! British Gas has just reintroduced its Free Swim campaign to the nation, and good on it! It is giving away 3 free swims to its customers (for up to two adults and two children per swim) at health clubs, hotels and leisure centres around the country.
Launched at Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney, London by Double Olympic and newly crowned European gold medalist, Rebecca Adlington, the campaign is about encouraging people to take the plunge for free and get into the joys of taking the plunge.
Adlington said: “I am on a personal mission to get as many people as possible into the pool to enjoy the benefits of swimming.
“The British Gas 3 Free Swims campaign is the perfect opportunity to get customers, from paddling pool to podium, into the water to have fun in a safe and healthy environment.”
It’s a great way to get the kids off the sofa and keep them entertained after weeks of school holidays, while parents can spend quality time with their children in the water.
Teenagers can meet up with their friends, and adults from all generations can enjoy the social and fitness benefits of being at the pool.
Friends and family can take three dips, without splashing the cash, at over 500 pools across the UK until 30th November 2010.
Adlington said: “It’s great that so many pools are taking part all over the country which means that British Gas 3 Free Swims will be accessible to a huge number of people, from all walks of life. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it so much that they’ll keep on swimming.”
Over 300,000 individuals took part in the inaugural British Gas Free Swim campaign last year, and the nation’s leading energy supplier is hoping British Gas 3 Free Swims will be even more successful.
What better way to discover the joys of some of Britain’s best and most beautiful pools? British Gas, for once we salute you!