MUST DO: Parliament Hill Lido’s 80th birthday bash

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Our second place to swim outdoors (yup, the Ponds are first) has a very big milestone bash this weekend


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re you a fan of Parliament Hill Lido? Course you are, fair-weather readers! In that case you – and all those hardy, all-year-round regulars – quite simply must dive into its 80th party on Friday, taking place at the Bandstand as part of its summer concert series.

Besides a lot of very lithe and healthy bodies on display – we hope – you can expect a soundtrack of reggae and soul choons from Kareem Shabazz and the Rhyddim Kings. And, no doubt, a splash of something alcoholic. Go on, you deserve it.

The lovely Grade II-listed lido, in case you didn’t realise, first opened back in 1938. Designed by Harry Rowbotham and TL Smithson (the same team who did similar benign things to Victoria Park and Brockwell Park), it was the most expensive of the art deco lidos to be built in the capital, costing a (then whopping) £34k.

And its Olympic size is – if you’ve never set foot in the place – something to gawp at: it’s a capacious 61 x 27 metres, the effect being, on a sunny day, something of a Mediterranean resort. And have you witnessed those queues (not to mention a few ill-tempered punters) stretching back in recent weeks? Yikes.

The limited edition towel modelled by a lifeguard at the Lido. Photo: Ruth Corney
Anyway. To celebrate the Lido being 80 local wild swimming photographer Ruth Corney has used a print of hers to make a stylish towel (70cm x140cm). The cost is £25 (per towel, limited to just a hundred) and profits will go towards redoing the photo strips that are on the walls of the lido. “I’ve dedicated the strip of photos to the memory of Glyn, a wonderful lifeguard who died two years ago,” she says, simply.

Buy one. And don’t forget to have a swim regularly – if you don’t already. Here’s to the next eight decades. And the rest.

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The 80th birthday bash takes place on Friday, 7-9pm at Parliament Hill Bandstand NW5, free entry. Buy a towel at the Lido and support the restoration of the photo strips.

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