Jun 21 2012

Ruislip Lido – a stone’s throw from South Harrow

Just a few miles from South Harrow is Ruislip Lido, one of North West London’s hidden treasures. Originally starting life as a feeder reservoir for the Grand Junction Canal in 1811, it was a shallow valley flanked by woodlands, which was flooded – with the loss of the hamlet of Park Herne, to the north – to cover an area of just over 150 acres.

In 1933, work began to develop the reservoir as a lido, when the Grand Union Canal Company was merged with the Grand Junction Canal Company. It had already been used for skating – when frozen – and swimming in the 1920s, and once a modern art-deco style building was constructed in 1936 along with a concrete-based swimming area directly in front, the lido was formally opened in May 1936 by the Earl of Howe.

Fast forward to the 1960s and 1970s, and the lido was a huge success.  World championship water skiing was broadcast from there, a sandy beach was created and a miniature railway we install, running through the woods.

Towards the end of the 1970s, the local council realised that the lido was an easy way to make money, and increased admissions charges.  The result was that people stoped coming, and one by one, the other traders there also left. Eventually, the admission fees were insufficient to pay the cost of the people employed to collect them, and the charge was scrapped. The same council then tried to get people back by building a giant chess set, which was simply vandalised.  In 1993 the main building was damaged by fire, and pulled down a year later.

For a lido which saw queues for buses – so much so, that extra buses were laid on to help – was gone.

Today, a pub/restaurant – the Waters Edge – has been built where the main building was, and the miniature railway is flourishing again. The play areas have been refurbished, and around 2004-2005 a small children’s water play area was added.  It’s now a pleasant place for a walk, a picnic, and a train ride. There is no swimming any longer – the quality of the water has dropped with the abundance of the Canada Geese which flock there – and the rowing boats have long gone, as have the paddle boats and the crazy golf.

More details here: www.friendsofruisliplido.net or www.ruislip.co.uk/lido.



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