Lido Chit Chat

Peter Bradley, Brockwell Lido, 2009

I have been wanting to catch up with Peter Bradley for sometime now. Peter is the author behind the brilliant Out of the Blue – a Celebration of Brockwell Lido. The book is essentially a social history project, published in 2007 to celebrate seventy years of outdoor swimming down in SE24.

We agreed in principle to record a podcast back at the start of May, when the lido opened for its first chilly dip of the new season. Work constraints, out of sync swimming routines and just general loving of lido life throughout the summer, have all conspired against our social history recording.

It was with some celebration then that I managed a chat with Peter over a coffee at the Brockwell Lido Users AGM on Saturday. The plan was initially for a five-minute audioboo podcast – thankfully I had the foresight to see that Peter was worthy of so much more.

And so in-between showing a group of architecture students around the splendours of the old building and other general BLU business, I managed to pin Peter down for a lengthy chat in our wonderful new cafe by the water.

All pre-pod preparation was disregarded. Peter is a lido lover, a social historian and a friend. We simply sat down for a chat, and took it from there.

What follows is a potted social history of outdoor swimming in SE24, covering the early days of the original Lake Brockwell, all the way through until the current Fusion years. Within this time frame we consider the construction of the lido some seventy years ago, the rise, fall and neglect of the pool by Lambeth Council, the squatting years and the golden days of Paddy and Casey.

I had wanted to talk to Peter about his more personal, subjective experiences of lido life. No worries – that can wait for a podcast part II project next summer.

Many thanks to Peter for being so generous with his time. If this recording leads you to wanting to know about the social history of Brockwell Lido, then I highly recommend purchasing a copy of of Out of the Blue.

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