Following the golden age of the lido in the 1930s, outdoor swimming in London and the UK experienced a steady decline, as more and more Brits began jetting off to sunny lands during the summer months. While hundreds of pools across the country were closed, sunseekers in the capital are in luck – lidos in London are not only some of the best in the country, but also still easy to find. Read on for our pick of the best outdoor swimming pools in London.
An oasis of calm smack bang in the middle of bustling King’s Cross, this naturally-filtered, fresh water pool (the first man-made one in the UK) began life as an art installation, courtesy of Ooze Architects and artist Marjetica Potrc. Not your typical lido, this pool is surrounded by an ever-evolving landscape featuring wild flowers, grasses and bushes and with chlorine-free water that is purified by submerged water plants and wetland. ‘Of Soil and Water’, aka King’s Cross Pond Club, is designed to highlight the contrast between urbanity and the natural world.
This flood-lit, heated, Olympic-length pool is open until late all year round, whatever the weather. The London Fields Lido was the subject of an almost 20-year struggle to see off the threat of demolition, reopening in 2006 to become one of the area’s most most popular public venues, and hailed as an important success story in the fight to both preserve and repopulate Britain’s lido collection.
Small-fry sizewise among London’s lidos, this 33 metre lido joins an indoor pool, spa and fitness centre to make up the Grade II-listed Pools on the Park complex in Richmond’s Deer Park, which has been recognised by Historic England as architecturally significant. Despite being heated, the lido is only open during the summer months.