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Brockwell Lido, Brockwell Park

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Brockwell Lido was opened in 1937 to replace Brockwell Park bathing pond and the pool and its The ultimate in bracing activities - outdoor swimming in London. Brockwell Lido is a listed Art Deco 'thing of beauty' which makes perfect sense when the sun is blazingsurrounding Art Deco buildings are Grade II listed. There's a mere handful of open-air pools left in London now and Brockwell Lido is sometimes informally referred to as 'Brixton Beach', though I've only ever heard that in publications, rather than by lido users.

It did close in 1990 but after a user group mobilised and began lobbying, it was re-opened in 1994. A year later it became the subject of a BBC documentary "The Lido" by Lucy Blakstad - which is how it came to my attention (Modern Times - was the series). There's evergreen appreciation in London for Art Deco, from the old Hoover factory on the A40 to the Court Side of the Savoy Hotel, it's a style whose popularity has never waned. On a dazzling summer's morning with asterisks of sunlight crowding the pool's surface and the earthy aroma of nearby parkland baking in the heat - Lido users can enjoy the sunbathing weather, without clogging up the routes to the coast.

Add to this: BBQs on the terrace at weekends in high-summer, treatment rooms and a fully equipped gym. Pool-side space to relax and people-watch behind your Ray-bans (they match the architecture), or drift away to the sound of distant lawn-mowers and birdsong, imagining you're inhabiting your own Nouvelle Vague masterpiece.

Be aware, visitors from abroad. The pool is unheated and London, despite lapping in the shallow-end of the Gulf Stream, is not noted for its balminess. Brockwell Lido - taken the year after it opened and a year before Britain went to war. The diving boards have gone, but the pool remained undamaged during the conflictHowever. Global warming has rewarded the capital with some impressive heatwaves in recent years and if you pull back the curtains to eye-popping blue - don't think coast, think Brockwell Lido - but look alive. It's popular when the sun shines.

Brockwell Lido is 50m in length and has a decent cafe, which serves tasty breakfast/brunches ("your eggs Florentine, m'lady"). Usefully it's open for dinner too - the food steps up a notch and poolside seating is available when a chink appears in the clouds. The Lido Users Group is still actively in attendance and much of the emphasis is on community activities, some based around swimming (Whippersnappers - children's swimming group) and others around non-swimming activities: yoga, pilates and dance classes.

Brockwell Lido Users' Group can be reached through their website: www.brockwelllido.com/ and for cafe information (times and menus) check www.thelidocafe.co.uk/

If you fancy combining your healthy trip to the Lido with some evening pub R&R to undo the good work, then there are a few candidates in the area. My preferred choice is the Half Moon Pub, in Half Moon Lane. Handy if you came by rail as it's over the road from Herne Hill station. It has plenty of pavement-front seating and many's the time I've pulled up at the junction. My eyes have wandered across to meet those looking The Lido Café serves excellent brunch and lunch - then converts to a restaurant in the evening. In fine weather you can dine poolsidethe other way (and vice versa). It's a great place to sit and watch, if a little fumey. An ex-Victorian hotel with flamboyant Gothic architecture - the rooms are high ceilinged and the wood paneling is comfortably worn. Drink and prices are good, the pizzas are excellent, but above all the atmosphere is amiable and laid back. It's busy and you may catch an emerging band in one of the back rooms. The Half Moon puts football watchers in their own area and you never know your luck, there could even be a poetry reading when you visit too. Throw in some guest ales and you have more than enough needs being met. I'm not saying it's fancy - I'm saying it's good, like comfy shoes are good. See below for the address and it's over to the right, near Herne Hill station on the map.

Brockwell Lido's bid for the National Heritage Awards in 2009

Please to note... the Lido Season runs from April to October. Swimming outside this period is members only, but you might be able to let your model submarine stretch its legs. (And no. That's not a euphemism).

Limited lockers are available, however bathers are advised not to bring valuables.

Opening Hours
Mon - Fri: 06:30 - 22:00
Saturday: 07:30 - 21:30
Sunday: 07:30 - 21:00

Brockwell Lido, Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0PA
Call: 020 7274 3088
Nearest Rail: Herne Hill or Brixton Rail/Tube (15 minute walk) - Victoria & Blackfriars.

The Half Moon Pub, 10 Half Moon Lane, London SE24 9HU
Call: 020 7274 2733
Nearest Rail (over the road): Herne Hill

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