Pool of the month - Charlton Lido
Built in 1939, Charlton Lido has been fighting closure for years. One of only three lidos left in south-east London, it is jointly maintained by Charlton Lido Swimming Club and Greenwich Council. But in 2004 it was closed after the council failed to meet costs of over £1 million to bring it up to ’minimal operational standards‘. Last summer, following a campaign by the swimming club, the pool reopened, but its future remained tenuous.
However, now this historic pool’s fortunes might be looking up. Greenwich Council recently installed new chlorination and water pumping facilities on the site and are also exploring a plan to turn the lido into a state-of-the-art diving centre that would include a 35-metre-deep diving centre – the only facility of its kind in the country alongside an open-air pool. If the deal is secured, it will put Greenwich on the map as a centre of diving excellence.
‘The lido is still under threat, but the threat is receding,’ said Graham Jones, the secretary of Charlton Lido Swimming Club. ‘The lido is important in an area like this where many families can’t afford to go on holiday. We are lucky to have a council who will work with us.’
Comedian Arthur Smith tells us what the lido means to him:
‘I have many happy memories of Charlton lido from my secondary school years. Lidos have a way of redeeming you and purifying you – every time you jump in, it’s like a baptism by cold water. An afternoon at Charlton Lido was a good opportunity to ogle girls and test my nascent teenage body out in the water. I also fell in love with a lifeguard, Rhianna, who I admired from afar. I met her years later, but she didn’t remember me despite the fact that I had given her poems and pictures. Charlton Lido is a down-to-earth place with a rufty-tufty feel – there’s no poncing around in designer pouches like you get at those north London pools. I’m a massive fan of all lidos. They should be open all year round with heating in the winter. The acoustics are amazing: you can lie on your back and shut your eyes and all you can hear is children shouting and water splashing. Best of all is the frisson with the cold when you get in that produces that electric blue feeling and you feel like Tarzan.’
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