The London Evening Standard reports: Hundreds of Londoners are backing a campaign to re-open one of the city’s lost lidos amid a growing trend for outdoor swimming in the capital.
The lido on Peckham Rye Common was opened in 1923 but was closed 64 years later due to disuse. The 180ft by 60ft pool is currently hidden under dirt, grass and trees, with a blue fountain the only sign it ever existed.
Now, one swimming enthusiast has called on MP for Camberwell and Peckham Harriet Harman and the local council to embark on a £2 million renovation of Peckham Rye Lido.
The campaign by Ben Lloyd-Ennals, 36, has proved popular, with more than 1,200 people signing his “Re-open Peckham Rye Lido” petition in three weeks. Mr Lloyd-Ennals said: “I started looking into what was actually on the site and discovered the pool is still there — it’s just covered — which makes things from a planning perspective easier. So I started a petition to re-open it.
“For people around here there aren’t that many places to go for a swim. It would be great to have somewhere where young people can go, rather than hang about on the streets.”
Deputy Labour leader Ms Harman, tweeted her support, writing: “Great idea! Will get on it!” Southwark council chief Peter John also praised the campaign, saying he was “excited the community is getting behind the idea”.
Mr Lloyd-Ennals, a property developer from Peckham, said renovations of similar pools such as London Fields and Brockwell Lido cost in the region of £2 to 3 million.
His campaign comes amid a surge of interest in swimming in London. Brockwell Lido has now established itself as a local attraction with a café, gym and cinema screenings.
Wild swimming in open stretches of water such as the Thames and the Serpentine is also gaining in popularity.
Last month, the Standard revealed architects Studio Octopi’s plans for Temple Baths, a £5.5 million fresh-water lido which would float in the Thames.
In the 1800s there was a pond located on Peckham Rye, close to the former lido site so people have been swimming in this location for hundreds of years.
Do you wonder why the UK had so many lidos in the past? Why were they built? Why did they fall into disuse? See: Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture, Chapter 5; Lidos Open Rivers Close…