Lambeth's fantastic open air swimming pool. (article updated August, 2007)
Brixton tube (1km), then bus up Effra Rd/Railton Rd.
Nearest BR stations: Herne Hill (100m) or Tulse Hill (750m).
Situated on the north-east side of the park is the fabulous Brockwell Park Lido, built in the 1930s and after surviving several closure scares in the 1980s and 1990s, has recently been extensively refurbished and extended.
Brockwell Park Lido, a year after opening in 1938
Breakfast at the Lido, post-swim, July 2006
Also worth checking out is the nearby Brockwell Park Model Railway.
Built (at their own expense) by local rail enthusiasts Roland Baker and Derek Hoare, this 220yd-long line offers £1 rides on model locomotives during peak summer weekends.
UPDATE JUNE 2008
The lido underwent major renovation over the winter of 2007 - here's our first reviews:
To be honest, the great thing about the 'new look' lido is that, from poolside, it looks the same as it always did. The walls are still covered in climbing ivy, the red brick still catches the sun as it goes down and reflects a beautiful glowing light onto the pool.
The new changing rooms, however, are a bit of a disappointment. They are extremely small and cramped. Fusion have added two heated outdoor showers at either end of the pool to try and alleviate the situation - but it can get hectic during the early morning swim session as everyone tries to get off to work after a swim.
It isn't possible to crossover from the pool to the gym changing rooms without first drying off and getting dressed again, leaving by the turnstile and then re-entering through the front door. I do know of some people who have done this, but again - not an early morning rush option!
Personally I think they've done a very good job expanding the old changing rooms to accommodate the gym. Apart from the new large glass windows giving onto the gym and spa, the west wall of the building also looks unchanged.
The gym itself is very nice. They've had some teething problems and there are definitely some issues of style over substance. The showers, for example, look flash, but a more basic model that actually succeeds in maintaining its temperature and delivering a decent flow of water would have been my preference!
There are definitely many improvements to be made to the gym, but Fusion have proved to be quite good to act on feedback and the gym classes have changed to reflect this.
There are some great teachers and there's already quite a 'community' feeling in the gym I think. There is a bit of tension between the 'new' gym users and the old yoga clientele however, which is a shame. There was almost a scuffle last week involving yoga mats and body pump weights... There are lots of other classes going on in the building too such as drumming, kids classes etc.
One sad loss is the old cafe. It's been replaced by something akin to a school dinners provider. The sandwiches, drinks and other food are very basic and there is no real imaginative or healthy options. They are also much too expensive.
However, given that there are very few customers at the start of the season I'm hoping they improve their choices when it gets warmer.
Given that the lido seemed forever at threat of closure, it is wonderful to see it so busy and being used by so many. Not all will be coming for a swim - indeed at the moment, very few are - but at least now we have some security for the pool and can hope for many more sunsets over Brixton beach.
Review by gaijingirl, 2nd June 2008.
Early morning swim, July 2006
This summer is the first season in SE24 since Fusion operated both the pool and gym, having taken a wrecking ball to twenty years of art deco splendor.
The South wall was knocked down over the winter months of 2006, and then brick by brick, re-built some six feet further to the edge of the park. The extra space houses a fitness studio.
Regular readers will be aware that I have been suspicious over the whole shifting of the South wall. The Lovely Lido was perfect the way it was. Except the way it was only meant that it made money (or at best, broke even) for two months of the year.
Adapt or die, etc, which is exactly how I felt at 7am on a breezy May morning when O took my first swim of the new season in the not quite Mediterranean temperature pool.
But first things first - what of the re-design?
With the South side now a designated sweat yer arse off area, the main entrance to the Lido has shifted to the West wing. My first 'bloody hell!' moment came when I saw the addition of around two dozen bike racks, something which the Lido has always lacked.
It has paid in previous seasons to get friendly with the management, just for that nod and a wink to allow you to take your bike inside the Lido. The surrounding area is a notorious stalking ground for bike thief scum, and I have had a crappy Halfords bike fall victim to the fuckers in the past.
I would still hesitate in leaving my bike outside the Lido, if it wasn't for the wonderful open facade to the front.
Large viewing windows have opened up the Lido, making a view from outside in possible, and more importantly for bike lovers, a view from the inside looking out. You've got to have some bottle to try and nick a bike that is now on full show from the reception desk.
But the real beauty of the glass frontage is that the Lido is now opened up in all its beauty for all to see from Brockwell Park.
My second 'bloody hell!' moment was the price of a season ticket. £150 for the season or £5.25 (!) for an individual swim. That's just over a whopping 80% price increase from twelve months previous!
I decided to buy a season ticket. Waking up at 6am midweek when it's still raining isn't much of an incentive for me to cycle down to Brockwell Park. With a £150 ransom hanging over my head, I'll be as regular as my bowel movements have now become following a freezing cold swim.
The Fusion front of house staff are actually fantastic. Very friendly, very helpful and they seemed to have carried the Lido Love baton and stuck with the old ambience.
And then the LOVE of the Lovely Lido hit me. I entered the pool area for the first time in nine months, and I had shivers running down my spine as I saw a mass open air public pool in South London, lit up with brilliant sunshine and blue skies.
Or maybe I was just shivering ahead of the swim?
I surveyed the scene to try and get my bearings. Twelve summers of swimming in SE24 has made the Lido my official summer home. But I've been away for a bit and the builders have moved in.
Would the Lovely Lido pass the Extreme Makeover test? Or would I find a shopping mall lined Pizza Huts and a little paddling pool placed in the middle?
I marveled at the dedication of the design job. Little has seemingly changed since the re-design, and if it has, it has been well masked. Like for like has been the buzzword, with even the wonderful art deco windows being lovingly replaced in the exact same style.
Time to get changed. I tracked down the new changing facilities, and although I admit I was disappointed with the shoe box size, they were clean, functional and kept the feel of the old place. I can't help thinking though that they will be woefully inadequate during a long hot summer spell (assuming that ever happens in South London over the next few weeks.)
The blue mosaics on the shower walls were both modern and suitably fashioned to fit the art deco splendor.
And so I reckon it's finally time for Fusion to lose the 'self-styled leisure lifestyle knobbers' status from around these parts. This is indeed a rarity - I have no reverse gear (or little money after forking out for my season ticket.)
But I was impressed with what I saw, and my day started off all the better for it. Didn't take long to go downhill, mind.
The Lovely Lido still has an ambient anarchic feel; it gives the impression of running itself, something that will hopefully continue as long as Fusion do their 'caring capitalism' thing from behind the scenes.
Review by Tricky Skills, 4th June 2008.
Join the discussion here: Brixton Lido reviews
Hand coloured postcard view, c1938.
Diving competition at the London swimming championships, Brockwell Park Lido, July 1961.
Feb 2003 view.
Feb 2003 view.
Feb 2003 view.
Feb 2003 view.
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