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History of the Lido

At the beginning of the 19th century there was no Ruislip Lido.


Where it is now was a small shallow valley with a stream and some dwellings along its length forming the Hamlet of Park Hearne. This hamlet remained until the Ruislip Enclosure of 1804 to 1814. At that time large areas of land in the old parish of Ruislip, which until then had been open fields and common grazing, were divided up and fenced by Act of Parliament.

To pay the cost of organising these enclosures certain portions were sold and one such lot was purchased by the Grand Junction Canal Company. At this time the company had built the canal and were seeking supplies of water to feed it. A dam was constructed across the valley (on which the boathouse now sits) to form a reservoir filled by the small streams from Copse Wood and what is now Northwood Golf Course. At the end of 1811 it was reported as filling with water. What provision, if any was made for the displaced cottagers is not known.

Ruislip Lido There is a story that the militia had to be brought out from Windsor to evict them. During the period 1950 - 1980 the Lido was in its heyday as a water based recreation facility. Water was plentiful, the lake covered a much larger area than now and it received thousands of visitors each summer. At peak times London Transport ran three different routes, employing double decker buses at twenty-minute intervals, to bring visitors from all over North West London. On the West shore stood the original 1930's building, which housed catering facilities, bathers changing rooms, managers office and chlorination plant.

There were turnstiles at each entrance and charging for entry and car parking raised considerable revenue. During this period the Lido was used as a set for major films including The Young Ones with Cliff Richard and the Titanic sank in the Lido in the film A Night to Remember.

In the 1970's the council realised that the Lido was a valuable asset and decided to increase admission charges out of all proportion to what they had been previously. People stopped coming. One by one the traders left, unable to make a profit with the reduced numbers of visitors.

Ruislip Lido - Beach area The Lido became an area for walking and over time, became very run down. In 1991 a private company took over management of the Lido. Access down a narrow street, close proximity to residential properties and serious water shortages contributed to the downfall of the venture. In 1993, having served notice on the management company, the council repossessed the grounds and premises. In 1994 the main building was destroyed by fire. The Lido grounds then entered a period of under funding and neglect. Negotiations with Whitbread took place culminating in the opening of The Waters Edge public house on the original site of the 1930's building. This venture has provided much needed income for the lido to improve the facilities provided. 

The Ruislip Lido Railway continues to grow and is a huge success. The Lido remains a pleasant place to walk surrounded by London's First National Nature Reserve, Ruislip Woods. The council's Trees and Woodland's team now manage the two sites ensuring synergies between the differing needs of the two important sites. 

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 13 Feb 2018 at 15:55