Tooting Bec Lido is one of Britain’s oldest lidos: it was built in just four months in the spring of 1906. It did not become a ‘lido’ until the thirties – when the term became widely used – it was originally known as Tooting Bathing Lake.
The pool, at the eastern end of Tooting Common in south-west London, opened to the public on Saturday 28 July 1906.
The pool measures 100 x 33 yards – a staggering 30,000 square feet of water. It was intended partly as a communal bath as very few homes in 1906 had their own bathrooms. It is now the biggest open-air freshwater pool in the country.
Back in 1906, the Rev. Anderson, the man behind the pool being built, said he hoped it would be ‘a benefit to the public for a long time to come’.
He can hardly have imagined that a hundred years later people from south London and beyond would still be swimming in his bathing lake and delighting in it.
Within weeks of the pool opening in 1906, a group of swimmers got together and formed the South London Swimming Club. The Club made the pool its headquarters and has played a major role in the life of the Lido ever since.
During the 1990s, the Club ran the Lido off-season and continues to give practical voluntary help to both the Council and its leisure contractor, Places for People Leisure Ltd.
To celebrate both the Club’s and Tooting Bec Lido’s centenary in 2006, the South London Swimming Club hosted several events including the first UK Cold Water Swimming Championships in January and a three day film festival, Dive in Movies, in July.
SLSC will be celebrating the Lido’s unique heritage as part of the Lido Improvement project. The Lido Heritage plan has been developed by the SLSC to guide the conservation and interpretation of the Lido’s heritage for the enjoyment of future generations.
A more detailed history is available as a book, Tooting Bec Lido by Janet Smith can be ordered directly from the author for £5.95.