Posts Tagged ‘Swimming Pools and Spas’

The Londonist reports: Uxbridge Lido — or Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex, as it’s now called — is one of London’s great resurrection stories. Thanks to a campaign to bring the lido back to life, it was reborn again in 2010…


The pavilion’s been modernised and extended, but vitally retains its 1930s sass. Sun loungers add a further touch of vintage glamour, meaning you can dip in and out of magazines/the pool over the course of an afternoon. The whole experience feels less leisure centre, more holiday resort. More…

See: Lidos Open – Rivers Close

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The Observer reports: Swimmers across Britain will greet the longest day by plunging into a pool tomorrow. Many will take that summer solstice dip amid the splendour of a restored public lido or municipal baths as the national appetite for preserving historic leisure facilities grows.

In Penzance, the Jubilee Pool reopened last month following a £3m repair project after storm damage in 2014. The pool, built in 1935, was first reopened in 1994 after falling into disrepair.

The new lido movement, driven by a fresh impulse to swim in the open air, has notched up a series of successful rescues. Among the star sites are south London’s Brockwell Lido, for years threatened with closure, the lido in High Wycombe, shut down in 2010, and one in Charlton, which reopened after a £2m refurbishment in 2013. In Reading, Berkshire, the team behind the restoration of Bristol’s chic Grade II-listed open-air pool at Clifton are doing extensive work on the former King’s Meadow pool, built in 1902 for women and initially fed by Thames water. It has been closed for 42 years. On the south coast, Saltdean Lido, near Brighton, was visited by communities and local government secretary Greg Clark this month to herald its restoration by 2017. Six years ago the pool was due to be filled in. More…


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The City of Leicester holds a rich treasure trove of history dating back to Roman times.

Discover a 2,000 year history that will surprise, sadden and hopefully inspire you.

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From a modern perspective swimming was a very British sport. After years or religious and superstitious suppression it was in Britain that swimming reemerged as an acceptable, desirable pastime.

With the birth of the industrial revolution social changes forced swimmers away from their birthright, out of rivers and lakes and into man-made enclosures.

No Swimming at Sparth

No Swimming at Sparth

Even so swimmers were allowed a great deal of freedom indoors, but even these freedoms have now been eroded. Over time the fun of the indoor pool has been quashed by officialdom, our diving boards have been sacrificed to the god of health and safety and many of the social attractions have disappeared.

Kenwood Lido Leicester

Kenwood Lido

The once playful outdoor activity mostly enjoyed by working class boys, has now evolved into a predominantly female sport.

A lack of splashing, jumping and diving means the the rough and tumble years are over. Warm water, private changing rooms and a much calmer atmosphere have meant a decline in male bathers and an upsurge in female swimmers now comprising 64% of the swimming population.

If walking is excluded, swimming remains the number one participation sport in Britain. Sport England’s Active People Survey shows that participation in football continues to decrease from 4.97% to 4.33% of the population with 94% of participants are male. Yet swimming being the number one participation sport is no reason for complacency, swimming still has a very low participation rate.

Only 8.04% of the adult (16+) population swim once a week.

With tighter budgets and a challenging economy what can be done to promote British swimming?

First take a look at how Sport England fund each sport by participant: £38 each for football, £16 for cycling, £11 for athletics but only £8 for swimming, so funding is certainly one issue.

Swimming pools cost a considerable amount of money to build, staff and maintain, yet much could be done to bolster their income. Swimming has always been a social activity, so capitalizing on this much neglected area is one way forward.

Stamford Meadows Bathing Place

Operating a cafe on site that provides a welcoming, quality, value for money meeting place, makes swimming pools much more popular. 

Diving and other sports could be taught and encouraged even if only from the poolside. An ASK ME! tee-shirt could be worn by lifeguards so that swimmers young and old feel encouraged to improve their skills.

Pictures of outdoor swimming in rivers lakes and at the seaside would inspire youngsters to learn to swim well.

The swimming pool should be seen as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Like schools they are their to inspire their pupils to reach their full potential. A swimmer can never reach his or her full potential in captivity.

The ASA and Sport England are in the driving seat for British swimming. Either they promote swimming or allow it to decline, the future is in their hands!

Discover the rich history of British swimming.

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Malcolm Tozer Reviews: Hung Out to Dry: Swimming and British Culture, in the Spring Edition of Physical Education Matters.


It was by chance that your reviewer came across this privately published social history of swimming and the evident enthusiasm of its author – devotee of outdoor bathing and self-taught historian – prompted the request for a copy. Chris Ayriss’s idiosyncratic approach is as refreshing as the waters he loves and the ebb and flow of his story matches that of meandering stream; you never know what is round the next bend.

The Blue Lagoon Bristol 1937

The book spans ancient and modern, from the Roman occupation of Britain right up to the health-and-safety madness of present times. On the journey we meet bathing to satisfy superstitious, ritualistic, religious, medical, sensual, sexual, naturist, hygienic and escapist needs – amongst others – sometimes with the active approval of society, sometimes not. It would seem that skinny-dipping just for fun was never as simple as that.

Henleaze Lake Bristol 1932

Bathing’s real boom began in the mid-Victorian period when Thomas Cook introduced cheap rail excursions to seaside resorts; week-long factory closures saw whole towns decamp to Skeggie or Clacton; Billy Butlin’s promise of a week’s holiday for a week’s wage led to the popularity of holiday camps; major resorts competed for the biggest lidos and the highest diving boards; and inland cities provided their own riverside beaches and swimming lakes. Some marvellous photographs show packed crowds on Blackpool beach in 1949, with no room to swing a spade; sand-castle building in the shadow of London’s Tower Bridge in 1939; a sardine-jammed lido in Bristol in 1937; and fantastic multiple diving platforms at Henleaze and Weston-super-Mare.

London-on-Sea 1939

The demise from the 1960s was sudden: it came with the introduction of cheap flights to Mediterranean beaches; the delights of sun and sangria; the building of corporation indoor swimming complexes; riverside landowners denying right of access; health concerns about polluted rivers, canals and lakes; and safety worries over unsupervised bathing. Recent evidence from my outlook in Cornwall suggests that a partial recovery is underway – helped by the economic recession, the popularity of ‘staycations’, and the ready availability of wetsuits. Is the bucket-and-spade holiday back in fashion?

Wild Swimming

All this is told in a jaunty style. A bevy of blurred boys’ bare bottoms may see the book banned from school libraries, but there is much here to inform and entertain all who have ever delighted in a midnight skinny-dip – outdoors, of course.

Hung Out to Dry: Swimming and British Culture, by Chris Ayriss, Lulu.com, 2012, £14.50, ISBN 978-0-557-12428-2

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When I was a child growing up in Leicester, scenes like this were commonplace at our beloved St Margret’s Swimming Baths. Here children line up to take a dive in a swimming pool in the southern German town of Denzlingen in the summer of 2012.

Attitudes are very different abroad, but here in England we have decided that it’s just too dangerous to have all these swimmers on the one board. Popular though diving may have been in the UK, one at a time and only ONE has killed the joy of diving. This has been the experience at the wonderful pool at Coventry which looks like it might soon close. The 10 meter board is already out of bounds. Diving lessons have been axed and although the lower boards can be accessed it’s on a one at a time basis. When I last visited the pool potential divers had to line up behind the lifeguard and wait for the current diver to exit the water before the next could approach the boards. Then you had to climb the ladder with ever eye focused on you, not so good for a first timer or for anyone who is a little self conscious (like the majority of teenagers). When you eventually pluck up the courage to dive the dozen or more still bothered to queue up had to wait patiently until you got out of the water before the next diver could have a go. No wonder swimming and diving are declining in the UK!

Discover why the scene above became impossible in England by reading: Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture.

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Leicester’s Kenwood Lido enjoyed huge popularity, with its extensive grassy sunbathing lawns, high diving boards and attractive semi-circular pool. Its magnetism drew thousands during the summer months, being a day trip destination for many of Leicester’s population. Here John and Sandra enjoy the fountain in a way that would be frowned on by the health and safety culture of our modern world. If Kenwood were still open the diving boards would have closed and photography outlawed as at all swimming pools in the City. But I’m glad that, at least in the old days, it was possible to take a family snap at Kenwood when swimming seemed much more fun!

Kenwood Lido Leicester

Discover the history of swimming in Leicester

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