Brockwell Lido back in the pink

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Visitors to the anti-apartheid festival in Brockwell Park this weekend had something else to celebrate - the Brockwell Park Lido reopened after four years.

Due to popular demand (almost 5,000 people signed a petition last year) the council granted a licence for the large open-air swimming pool late last year.

In January, Casey McGlue and Paddy Castledine - two former council employees who met while working at the Lido - won the bid. Helped by a pounds 52,000 grant from the council, friends of the two young men and local businesses, the Lido is almost ready for a grand opening on 11 June. Doors opened this weekend for the first time.

The 60-year-old edifice now has a cafe in one large and repainted room, some 300 panes of glass have been replaced, the pool rebuilt and weeds and rubbish removed. 'Some of the work has been done on a job-creation scheme basis', says Mr McGlue, 'so that people can get kick-started and help us here, too.' Friends have repainted rooms or designed posters, supplied materials or simply time, in return for space.

Only two full-time lifeguards will be employed throughout July and August, when the licence stipulates that swimming must be available. An assisted-places scheme may be run to provide work for people seen by a drug prevention team in nearby Clapham.

It is this community effort which will define the make-up of the new super-improved Lido, says Mr McGlue. 'We realise that we can't make money from the swimming pool alone and that people want other things on top of the swimming. So we're providing a range of services.'

These will include a day nursery, massage and physiotherapy, fitness classes and artist studios, and huge rooms available for party hire. The cafe, with the usual supply of ice creams and soft drinks at the moment, is waiting to be turned into a brasserie. An enthusiastic Mr McGlue says: 'We're open to suggestions.'

Something else which separates this Lido from the Brylcreem-and-spangles image of old is that the two men have formed a limited company and are looking for private sponsorship to help in the running costs of some pounds 60,000 a year. They are preparing a 'wedding list' of essentials such as a pool cover which they hope will be sponsored by local businesses, and match funding by a sports sponsorship programme run by the National Heritage department.

Other Lidos around London will never have the chance for such diversification. From a total of 33 in the post-war boom years only a handful are left. A number were converted into indoor pools and sports centres in the Eighties by cash-strapped local authorities.

Others were bulldozed and grassed over or left empty and derelict, surrounded by high-rise flats and memories.

Additional reporting by Mark Kilfoyle

(Photograph omitted)

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