THE LIDO HERITAGE PROJECT
The history and heritage of Tooting Bec Lido and the South London Swimming Club (SLSC) has been celebrated and safeguarded through restoration and improved on-site and online interpretation.
Description of works:
Pump House and Purification Plant
A water treatment building was built at the deep end of the pool in the 1930s at the same time as the pool was lined, changing cubicles were added and mixed-bathing was introduced. Cleanliness, and in particular water purity, emerged as a key theme in the design of both outdoor and indoor pools in this period. The water treatment building, known as the Pump House, is a utilitarian rectangular block and, at approximately five metres high, remains the tallest building on the site. It contains equipment which continues to be functional and which is rapidly becoming historic. Views into the plant rooms have been created so that the machinery which provides clean water to the pool can been seen and appreciated. Alongside one of the viewing windows, there is a graphic panel explaining the science of the water purification process.
Poolside Cubicles and Shelters
The brightly painted changing cubicles aligning the western and eastern sides of the pool, which are a character-defining feature of the Tooting Bec Lido, have been refurbished. The refurbishment works included repairs to timber posts, seats and doors, as well as to the rear wall and the timber partitions between the individual cubicles. All missing or damaged hinges, door bolts and clothes hooks were replaced, and all the cubicles were repainted in the existing colour scheme.
The Western Terrace Extension and the SLSC Commemorative Wall
The western terrace was extended through a 2 metre excavation into the mound behind (this was made up of the soil originally dug out to create the pool). A new stepped retaining wall has been created to provide sunbathing ledges and accommodate three rows of glazed bricks to define two bands available for ceramic plaques commemorating past SLSC members and people who have contributed to the life of Tooting Bec Lido. The first plaques have already been put up and these will be added to in the future to help creating a collective memory and experience for those who value the Lido. A new family and disabled double-width changing cubicle accessible to people in wheelchairs has also been constructed. This has increased capacity at the Lido and is already very popular as it is a sun trap sheltered from cold easterly or northerly winds, a feature of bright days in winter
A new cycle park has been constructed behind the ladies’ shower block, mirroring the cycle parking on the other side of the entrance, and now provides 22 additional cycle stands. Large numbers of Lido users arrive by bike, particularly on race days for the ever-popular SLSC aquathlons. The extra cycle parking has been well used already.
History Website and Historical Archiving
The survival of Tooting Bec Lido is largely due to the energetic efforts and commitment of South London Swimming Club members. The SLSC has a rich history, which was at critical risk of being lost because historical material was scattered among past and present members, stored in attics and forgotten. To prevent this from happening, a history archive has been created celebrating the 110-year-plus history of the Club, the Lido and the associated communities. The archive, which contains photographs, newspaper cuttings and various documents, has been handed over to the Wandsworth Heritage Service. Selected documents and photographs have also been digitised and uploaded to a dedicated history website where anyone can go and view material: www.tootinglidohistory.org.uk
For more information see the Tooting Bec Lido Heritage Conservation and Interpretation Plan.