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Home arrow History arrow The Lido
The Lido PDF Print E-mail
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The Lido
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In the late 1920's the London County Council (LCC), encouraged by the success of the 6 Lidos they had already built, offered London boroughs the chance to build their own Lidos with a large subsidy from the LCC. Hackney first investigated the idea in 1928 and after some initial disagreement over where the lido should be situated (at London Fields or Hackney Marshes) an agreement was made between the LCC and Hackney Council for its present site on 9th July 1930.

1939 lido photo
London Fields Lido c. 1939
The original 165x66ft Lido was wholly different from what had gone before. It was the earliest surviving example of its style with an advanced filtration plant, a tiered water aerator (fountain), a large sunbathing area, a refreshment kiosk and a first aid room. Designed in house by the LCC (probably by Rowbotham & Smithson) along with its twin at Kennington Park, which was opened in 1931 (closed 1988). The cost of building at the time was estimated at £10,870. A bargain price even in those days. The Lido first opened in 1932 and remained open until the war. It reopened in 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain that celebrated recovery from the war, until its closure in 1988.  

In 1963 the LCC was expanded by the government with their addition of the outer London boroughs, becoming the Greater London Council (GLC). At the time, it was denied that this was only a way to prevent Labour's continual control of London. The London suburbs had inexorably expanded into the surrounding countryside since the initial formation of the LCC in 1889.

The GLC was responsible for all London Lidos until 1973 when they were given to their local borough councils to run. In 1978 the younger children's paddling pool was added, which we were latter to discover was very poorly built. While at the same time the original fountain in the Lido was taken out, with the excuse that it was "to make an additional sunbathing area". An alternative reason that was whispered was that the water source for the fountain was diverted to the Paddling pool.

In the 1980's there were numerous cutbacks in government funding to councils. Because swimming and other leisure facilities (like municipal parks) are not a legal requirement for councils, it is one of the first items to suffer cutbacks at times of funding shortages. By 1986 Prime Minister Thatcher abolished the GLC, the services previously provided by the GLC were carved up between central government, the boroughs and a new set of London-wide bodies. Leaving a lack of integration of services and a further burden for the councils.  Of the 68 Lido's and open-air pools in the Greater London area at the time, there was eventually to be only 10 surviving in use.


 
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