|London Field’s Lido, Hackney, photo Hackney Council|
There was a good story in last weekend’s Travel and Indulgence section of The Weekend Australian on some of London’s outdoor swimming areas. Headed London’s Liquid Assets, Rosamund Burton’s story features Brookwell Lido, Tooting Bec Lido, Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath Ponds.
In the United Kingdom and some other countries, the word lido refers to a public outdoor swimming pool and surrounding facilities, or part of a beach where people can swim, lie in the sun or participate in water sports.
Wikipedia says the term lido is the Italian word for beach and forms part of the place name of several Italian seaside towns known for their beach, e.g. Lido di Venezia, the barrier beach enclosing the Lagoon of Venice. Possibly the term found its way into English from returning English visitors to Lido di Venezia, where sea-bathing took place from the late 19th century. The word was first used for a public outdoor swimming pool in the UK in July 1935, in London.
As Rosamund Burton says in her article: “On sunny summer days these pools are packed with people of all ages, but the rest of the year it’s only the eccentric cold-water swimmers, exhilarated by a cool dip, who keep these pools open.”