Council to splash the cash on restoring Tooting Bec Lido

The nearest public lido to Croydon is to close next month for a (fingers crossed) nine-month £3million restoration project.

Not quite 100 yards: the Tooting Bec Lido, Britain’s biggest freshwater swimming pool

Recent summer heatwaves have made open-air swimming pools hugely popular, and with the closure of the Purley Way Lido in 1979, keen Croydon swimmers – and sun-bathers – have been forced to travel to Brockwell Park in Lambeth or to Tooting Bec Lido.

There were more than a quarter of a million visits to Tooting Bec Lido this scorching summer.

Now the 116-year-old facility is to get a facelift.

Tooting Bec, at 295-feet long (not quite 100 yards, curiously), is the biggest open-air freshwater pool in the country. It will close on November 20.

Much-missed: Croydon’s lido, on the Purley Way, closed in 1979

Wandsworth Council said that the multi-million-pound investment would fund the replacement of the existing pumphouse, which controls the pool’s water supply, and the construction of a new electrical sub-station to power the pumps and a new UV water purification system.

In Croydon, meanwhile, more than six months after being elected as the borough’s first executive Mayor on a manifesto commitment to re-open the (indoor) pool at Purley, Jason Perry has so far failed to announce how he will fund the works required.

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3 Responses to Council to splash the cash on restoring Tooting Bec Lido

  1. Mrs Michelle Donna Bain says:

    What about the croydon council houses that need repairing.

  2. Lewis White says:

    I was interested to see the poster about the Grand opening of the Purley Way open air pool, not realising that this was a municipal enterpsise by the then Surrey County Borough of Croydon.

    Located in the sunny elevated slopes near the new aerodrome, and the new art deco factories on the Purley way, this must been part of an overall “vision” of Croydon’s own a brave new modern world….sunlit and healthy.

    They didn’t build it in the smoggy areas of the middle or North of the Borough, where there were more people. Presumably, people used to have to hop on a bus or two to get there–or came up on the motorbike or then — for the few– a car.

    I remember going there much later, in the 1960’s when it was still packed with bathers– children, teens, adults, and a range of bathers– preeners–and show offs–and serious divers. Sunlit days. (I read some years back that the days really were sunnier then, due to lack of aeroplane vapour trails we have now–rather as they were in lockdown 2020/2021)

    A TV anthropology documentary could be made about the UK lidos, and the Darwinian mating dipslays on show.

    Thinking of swimming and lidos, if only we could have a modern lido with a sliding roof like a giant greenhouse, one that could simply be rolled off, enabling use of the pool–or part of it–as a either an open air pool or a protected pool for winter use.

    In the 1980’s I visited a plant nursery in West Surrey that had such a greenhouse on wheels (maybe on railway lines) so that plants could be grown indoors. In Spring, the greenhouse was wheeled off , so that the plants did not have to be moved.

    For a modern lido, would it not be very nice to have a formal pool for lane swimmers, and an amoeba shaped pool with landscaped lawns and paved areas around, for the more “leisure” users to use ?

    Palms and banana trees too.

    A few years ago I wrote to the Crytsal Place Park renewal team to ask whether the NSC(national Sports centre) Grade 2 listed pool could be extended outdoors to have an informally designed lido, with abundant landscaping, set in the protected bowl-like area currently occupied by hard playing pitches. I suggested a “water gate” so that at any time of year, people could swim through a wide door in the wall of the pool building to emerge into a heated exterior pool, in the fresh open air, surrounded by sun and nature. A beautiful experience! There would be loads of solar panels on the NSC area and Stadium, to feed electricty into the water heating system for the NSC and Lido pool.

    Apparently there would be a problem with levels, as the Listed NSC indoor pool is too high relative to the great outdoors (or too low–I forget) . Sad !

    The thought I had was that the Crystal Palace could become South London’s destination park with the good parts of the NSC retained, plus a beautifully landscaped destination Lido, to be funded a Council Tax precept shared by the adjacent South London , NE Surrey and NW Kent boroughs. A paradise for sun and water-bathers, both serious swimmers, and leisure bathers alike.

    It would need a big car park, but surely, that would be OK, even with the anti-car lobby, as by then (2032) we would have many more electric cars ?

    Pipe dreams no doubt. No Lido is likely at Crystal palace unless serious money is available.

    Hang on a minute–all is not lost !

    How about a Lido in a redeveloped Whitgift Centre with a mix of blocks of flats, offices and shops. At the heart of the Borough.

    The low level waste heat from the office computer servers could heat the pool water.

    Genius !

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