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Musician @darrenhayman’s favourite London lidos, past and present

Posted at 11:15 am, August 27, 2012 in Music & Nightlife, Top 5
Darren Hayman's favourite lidos

Musician Darren Hayman, formerly of indie rock band Hefner, loves London’s old outdoor swimming pools so deeply he’s written an album about them. With only a few lidos left in the city, we asked him to tell us his favourites:

London Fields
‘The album opens with a song about London Fields Lido, which is a phoenix-from-the-ashes story. It was closed, and looked like it would never reopen again, but did in 2006 and is now a really successful enterprise. I don’t go in the summer because it’s too popular, but that’s okay – it should be really busy and full of kids.’

Parliament Hill Lido

Parliament Hill
‘This was the first lido I went to in London. I love the café. Apparently, the definition of lido, as opposed to an open-air swimming pool, is a little bit debated, but for a while it was thought to mean that it would have a café and a terrace along with it. This lido also has a terrace, and in the summer there’s a sea of people laid across it getting their tans.’

Brockwell Park Lido

Brockwell Park
‘This one is a nice lido, but what’s slightly weird is that its café is a separate business, so you’re being watched by people in clothes who aren’t swimming. This seems a little unfair to me. It’s easy to judge people in their trunks when you’re sitting down fully clothed.’

Purley Way
‘The story with Purley Way is that the diving board became a piece of listed architecture, because it’s such a striking structure, while the rest of the pool didn’t. The lido eventually fell into disrepair and was closed in 1980, and now the diving board is stuck in the middle of a garden centre and can’t be pulled down. It would only happen in Britain, wouldn’t it? That a diving board would be saved, but the swimming pool would be taken away. That seems typically, eccentrically English.’

Tooting Bec Lido

Tooting Bec
‘The pool here is bigger than an Olympic-sized one – it’s like a football pitch. There are modern changing rooms, but there are also older cubicles by the pool with unlockable doors. It makes me think of more trusting times. I chose this lido as the last track, as I wanted the album to end with one that survived. Ultimately, I wanted it to be an uplifting record.’

Stream Darren’s instrumental album, Lido, right here:

…or visit his blog, Lido Music. Or if all this has got you in the mood for a dip, check our guide to outdoor swimming in London.

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