Tuesday 24 March 2009

Built in 1939...

The Lido on Hampstead Heath is one of the most popular and busy places in the good weather.

I'm not a Lido user (I'm a very weak swimmer) - I've been to several, but it's not the most obvious place at which I'll be found - but what I do understand is the incredibly laid back leisurely sense of fun that they excude - and this one at Hampstead is no exception.

The City of London is rightly proud of this Lido. It's a Grade II listedbuilding, is an Art Deco pool and was officially opened to the public on 20 August 1938.

This event was described as a grand ceremony presided over by the then-Secretary of the Football Association, Stanley Rouse.

Incredibly, it was the twelfth of a total of 13 such outdoor pools built by the London County Council between 1906 and 1939. With a total build cost of £34,000 it was the most expensive - this was partly attributed to the premier location at the foot of the heath. It's construction was controversial - along the lines of 'stop building on the heath' - but had strong supporters who saw it as facilities for bathing and play for the masses.

Interestingly, the pool remained open throughout WW2 and saw its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. During these decades it saw more than 100,000 visitors a year cross its threshold.

The Corporation wesites records "The lido passed to the Corporation of London (now called City of London) in 1989 when the Corporation took over the running of Hampstead Heath from the London Residual Body.

"Since then, the City has spent almost £3million refurbishing the pool, giving it a state-of-the-art filtration system and brand new, stainless steel lining. The lining has helped raise the residual temperature of the unheated water and to save more than 100,000 litres a day of water that was being lost through tile cracks.

"In 2005 the City Corporation pledged to give £1.425million towards the cost of restoring the historic fabric of this Grade II listed building, on the understanding it would be used to try and obtain match-funding by an external body. The City is now in the process of applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund and BIG Lottery’s Parks for People initiative for capital funding which, if successful will be part of a bigger programme of works for the entire Parliament Hill triangle area including restoration of the Lido building."

More details here:

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