Chingford Larkswood Pool – super lido-home to beauty pageants

Chingford Larkswood Pool - image

Chingford Larkswood Pool.  Courtesy of Vestry House Museum, London Borough of Waltham Forest. enlarge+

This lovely large Lido was open by The Minister of Health Sir Kingsley Wood in July 1936 – of “It’s a Knockout” fame

Chingford Larkswood Pool is said to have held the record for the highest attendance in the history of UK Lidos with 290,000 bathers during the swimming months of 1959.  By 1965 over 3 million had attended.

Lido was built in an interesting crucifix shape.  This would reserve areas for diving from the boards and extra depth of water, to a shallower area for children and beginners.  At it’s deepest was 8′ 9′ and it’s shallowest 3′


Chingford Larkswood pool was beautiful - image

Vestry House Museum, London Borough of Waltham Forest. enlarge+

Beauty pageants;  swimming and diving events were regularly looked forward to. Larkswood Lido was the venue for the TV Show “It’s a Knockout”  also toothpaste promotion.

Larks wood Lido boasted a full set of National standard diving boards,  the top board being 5 metres high,  with the additional springboards of 1 and 3 metre high.  Many other water spectacles took place in this lovely setting.  Water slides added to the children’s fun and many a happy family day was spent here, away from the wrath of the  forthcoming days of war,  and must have been a paradise following those dark days,  creating a haven for recovery.

The sun always seemed to shine and many an hour was spent sunbathing on the hilly grassed areas.  There was always a cup of tea or coffee and selections of ice creams to help move the day along!  Tuck shops and a restaurant served the Lido in earlier days.

Chingford Larkswood Pool Cruciform - image

Crucifix form. AGJ collection of cards. enlarge +

Many a memory must be stored in the minds of the thousands of bathers. The Lido was unheated and heard to be “freezing” but people were more hardy in those days until the cheap package flights to guaranteed sun was on the cards. Despite this however  during an exceptional heatwave in 1975,  this excellent facility was at least 17,000 visitors/bathers splashing about in ONE day.

Apparently there was an area within the design of the building to house a heating system and pump for the Lido,  but there was never one installed!

Here you can see a picture as it was being constructed

 OUTCOME: The pool closed in September 1987 and was replaced in August 1990 with the controversial FantaSeas – a futuristic indoor waterpark considered by residents to be “tacky, unsightly and expensive” as recalled by chairman of Chingford Historical Society, David Young.

After a series of serious accidents, Fantaseas closed in January 1992 with debts of six million.

It briefly re-opened as The Hydropark but then laid derelict for a decade before opening as Larkshall Leisure Centre in 2002

Chingford Larkswood Lido - Before and after - image

Enlarge + Chingford Lido Sites – before and after

Can you add a hint or two?

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