Archive for Cold Water Lidos

Lido Song by Chris Stanton and the Big Splash

Posted in London Pools, News, Tooting lido with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2012 by Rejoice & Be Cleansed

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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 UK Cold Water Swimmimg Championships at Tooting Bec lido

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.

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Walpole Bay Pool and The Lido, Margate, Kent

Posted in Around the UK, Margate with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by Rejoice & Be Cleansed

“The sun set long ago on the heyday of Britain’s seawater swimming-pools, but they retain their mysterious allure” Ken Worpole

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about Margate I just don’t seem to be able to get the 1989 Only Fools & Horses: Jolly Boys Outing out of my head. It’s the one where the Trotters join other Nag’s Head regulars – Boycie, Trigger, Mike, Denzil et al – on a day trip to Margate. Kiss me quick hats, too much shellfish, the great Raymondo, the Villa Bella, and the trip to the infamous fun fair Dreamland (where you can see Denzil clearly shouting “f**k” as he goes upside down on one of the rides). Brilliant stuff. Comedy genius.

Twenty-odd years later we are going to spend a couple of days in Margate, firstly to go and see the amazing looking David Chipperfield designed Turner Contemporary gallery, as well as to try and get a swim somewhere in the historic town.

The construction of the Turner Contemporary gallery on the harbour is part of an attempt to attract higher quality shops (and punters) to the old part of the town, the project also forms part of a plan to relaunch Margate through the arts and its social history. Dreamland is also set to reopen by 2012 to help attract day visitors back from London, and get a bit of a buzz back to this ghost town (once referred to by The Times as a “Dump”) which seems to be dominated by boarded up shops, decay and a complete lack of local government funding.

But while many of Britain’s faded resorts see art and architecture as the path to renewed prosperity, why do so few of them open their eyes to the architectural swimming gems? In Margate’s case its now derelict Lido and the stunning Walpole Bay Pool.

We checked in at the wonderful Walpole Bay Hotel to be as near to the sea, and the Walpole Bay Pool as possible. This historic Margate hotel was built for discerning guests in 1914, extended in 1927 and is now being lovingly restored to her former glory by the Bishop family. Apparently it’s where Tracey Emin stays when she visits the home of her birth – but don’t let that put you off.

Anyway, off to see what the Walpole Bay Pool has to offer. Avoiding the sea of dog excrement we amble to down to the sea front in the cold drizzle much associated with the British seaside.

Legend has it that Walpole Bay got its name because of a ship named after Britain’s first prime minister Sir Robert Walpole. The vessel was wrecked by smugglers that had stolen the valuable cargo after the ship was driven ashore during a gale on 17 December 1808.

The tidal swimming pool that dates back to 1900 seems to be all but forgotten by the locals – although it is sometimes used by people learning how to dive. Like much of the town it has seen better days. Sadly the elegant art deco funicular that used to transport swimmers from the town (or those staying at the Walpole Bay Hotel) has been closed down. According to one of its lifeguards: “Even on hot days, I’d describe the atmosphere as sedate.” It is such a shame as it is stunning. Some locals say that despite is yearly ‘essential’ maintenance, there are rumours that it is soon to be refurbished as the town becomes increasingly gentrified, and tries to take on the like of Broadstairs as ‘must-go-to’ UK seaside destinations. Let’s hope so.

Meanwhile, in the 1920’s the Lido at Cliftonville was completed to cater for the popularity of sea bathing. The Lido was built on the existing Clifton Baths Estate, beneath which ran many passageways used by smugglers in previous centuries. The underground complex consisted of bars, cafes and an indoor warm sea water pool with nearby changing facilities.

The Lido was hugely popular from it’s construction right through to the 1960’s. A winter storm in January 1978 which destroyed Margate Pier also wreaked havoc with the Lido, particularly the outdoor pool. The last time it was used, it was the venue for a series of raves in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Reconstruction work has never even been considered, and even today the Lido faces almost certain demolition. Check out these shocking pictures of the state of the Lido as it ‘stands’:

Times are changing in Margate. You sense that the Turner Contemporary has breathed new life into the town. Let’s hope the locals reconsider the role of their wonderful seawater pools and use the town’s heritage of swimming to encourage locals to petition the local council for funding to save their swimming gems. We have lost too many seawater pools – here’s the chance to save two of the finest.

The Good Times: Get Wet

Posted in London Pools, Tooting lido with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by Rejoice & Be Cleansed

“Feeling gloomy? There’s nothing quite like an invigorating swim to put you in a good mood, especially with the open sky above you. Simon Murie, founder of specialist swimming holiday operator SwimTrek, talks us through London’s best spots for an al fresco dip,” says The Good Times, a magazine designed to have steered us through the (official!) most depressing day of the year, Jan 16th. The Good Times is The Church of London’s (a Shoreditch-based creative agency) response to the January blues and the result of a week-long project to write, design and print a one-off newspaper which celebrated only good news.TCoL rallied writers, designers and illustrators together to produce a newspaper which exclusively featured ‘good news’ stories. Copies were distributed in London and available direct from the TCoL office on Leonard Street in east London. And seeing Tooting Bec Lido, The Serpentine, Hampstead Heath Lake, and London Fields Lido being written about as a natural antidote to the trials and tribulations that January did put a smile on my face. There is a link to the full text in the picture above. Enjoy!

Join the party in London’s outdoor swimming pools

Posted in Around the UK, London Pools with tags , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2011 by Rejoice & Be Cleansed

There was a nice piece in the Evening Standard the other night about London’s outdoor swimming pools by Jonathan Knott, with accompanying images by Tony Buckingham.

According to Knott: ‘Research suggests that exercising outdoors has the greatest benefits to mood and self-esteem, and the mere sight of water intensifies the effect.’

His round up of Lakes and Ponds, Cold Water Lidos, Heated Pools & Sea Swimming (clearly not in London!), is surely be enough to get you inspired to go and enjoy the incredible swimming pools London has to offer this weekend. Get in there!