£3 million project will refurbish open-air pool which is over 110 years old
Tooting Bec Lido. Picture: Wandsworth Council
Tooting Bec Lido will shut for nine months for a huge £3 million revamp project to prevent future unplanned closure. The revamp will protect the future of Tooting Bec Lido, which is the biggest open-air freshwater pool in the UK.
Wandsworth Council is prioritising investing in the 90-metre-long lido over replacing it so it can operate efficiently for at least the next 50 years. The authority committed almost £2.1 million in extra funding to the project in 2021, after £867,000 was approved for some of the works, to bring the total to almost £3 million.
A report to the council’s community services and open spaces committee in November 2021 said the “iconic” lido holds a special place as the borough’s “jewel in the crown” and has attracted generations of Londoners since opening in 1906.
The works include replacing the pumphouse and building a new electrical substation to power the pumps, installing a new pipework and UV filtration system, new pool liner and improved landscaping around the water’s edge.
The 2021 report said any failure of the existing pipework, which is more than 85 years old, could lead to “unplanned closure of the pool”. It added: “It is prudent to undertake extensive works at the same time, and when the pool is fully drained, to avoid unplanned and further future closures of the pool.”
The lido usually opens to the public from April 1 to September 30 and is operated by the council’s leisure centre contractor Places Leisure. It is used by the South London Swimming Club, which had 2,717 members in 2021, in winter. It also hosts the National Cold Water Swimming Championships every two years.
The lido will close on 20 November this year for around nine months for the works to be completed. Labour councillor Judi Gasser, cabinet member for environment, said the landmark project “should safeguard the lido’s future for decades to come”.
She said, “People describe Tooting Bec Lido as the jewel in the crown of London’s open air swimming pools and they are quite right. It is a much-loved and hugely important local amenity. This summer, there were over 265,000 visits to the lido.”
Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter
October 25, 2022