The History Of The Lido 4th August 2016
Outdoor swimming has long been popular here in the UK – and it certainly shows no signs of stopping, as people all over the country look to have bespoke swimming pools installed outside their homes.
But when did outdoor swimming first become a credible activity? Where did it all begin? Back in the 1930s, lidos across the UK started springing up, with 169 built by local councils all over the place. Of course, some of these were short-lived and fell out of favour when travel to exotic foreign countries became cheaper and more accessible – but some of the original ones are still in operation today.
The first open air pool to be built was The Edmonton Lido in Edmonton, which opened in July 1935 after extensive refurbishment. This was followed by the Tottenham Lido in June 1937 and the West Ham Municipal Lido in August of that year.
The word ‘lido’ is actually Italian for beach and if you holiday in this part of the world you’re sure to see signs for the likes of Lido di Venezia, referring to the barrier beach that encloses the Venetian Lagoon. It’s likely that the term made its way into English vocabulary by lucky folk holidaying in Italy where swimming in the sea was a popular way to spend the time back in the late 19th century.
During the 20s, swimming was an incredibly popular pastime and when swimwear evolved to give women greater freedom to enjoy it, the 30s saw a huge surge in this particular outdoor pursuit. This in turn resulted in councils investing in lidos more and more to help cater for holidaymakers.
The design for lidos usually involved a rectangular pool with a deck for sunbathing and a café nearby, with the majority also having a fountain or cascade. Slides and water chutes, as well as diving boards, were stylish features to be included – so make sure you have one of these if you want to recreate the lidos of days gone by at home.