Swimming and water skiing history

Swimming has always been a popular sport and pastime in Hillingdon.

Bathing at Ruislip Lido
Before most swimming pools were open, locals made use of waterways, such as the Frays River, to cool down in the summer months.

Highgrove Pool in Ruislip was opened in July 1964. According to the official brochure, the main pool has an impressive capacity of 230,000 gallons of water! 

Brian J. Barnes M.I.M.B
Brian J. Barnes M.I.M.B. was the first manager of Highgrove Pool. He was passionate about swimming, waterpolo and lifesaving and also spent time teaching children with disabilities how to swim.

He held a number of records and titiles, including 200 yards breaststroke Champion (1951 to 1953), and 220 yards Butterfly Champion (1953). He also represented Great Britain in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games for breaststroke.

In 1967, the Hayes Swimming Pool was opened at the cost of £342,605. The local Hayes and Harlington Urban District Council had been working on providing a local swimming pool since the 1930s, but with the interruption of the Second World War, plans had to be put on hold.

Another attempt was made to coincide with the Queen's Coronation in 1952, but due to labour and financial difficulties, it was delayed again until 1967. The pool came with a diving board and went to a depth of 12 and a half foot, holding 198,000 gallons of water!

Uxbridge outdoor pool was opened on 31 August 1935, with a "fanfare of trumpets from the band of the Royal Air Force".

The unique 12 sided, 50m outdoor pool and surround was designed by architect G Percy Trentham. It cost £24,500 and generated employment for 250 unemployed men who build it.

The pool operated for 63 years until it closed in 1998. After a number of campaigns, it was agreed to restore the now Grade II listed building to its former glory to benefit locals.

Hillingdon Council devised and delivered a major redevelopment of the site. This cost £25m, was carried out in 2009/10 and resulted in a range of new indoor leisure facilities, as well as the refurbishment and reopening of the listed lido.

In preparation for the 2012 London Olympics, the South Korean Olympics team chose the lido as one of their training grounds.

The Olympic torch relay also ended its part of the Hillingdon leg at the leisure centre on Tuesday 24 July 2012.

Ruislip Lido 

The reservoir was developed as a lido in 1933, with an Art Deco style main building designed by George W. Smith, together with an area reserved for swimming; it was formally opened in 1936.

The building included a cafe and changing rooms, and featured a terrace with steps leading into the enclosed swimming pool.

The pool was built with a concrete base and jetties on either side, but opened into the lido.

Rowing boats were available for hire, with boathouses on the western side of the reservoir. An enclosed boating area for children was also later constructed.

The reservoir became a popular location for water skiing, and televised championships were often held there. One of Ruislip Water Ski Club's founding members was the former Doctor Who actor, Jon Pertwee.

Ruislip Lido was also a popular place for swimmers, with lots of local children learning to swim there, coming from nearby Rickmansworth.

Page last updated: 15 May 2023