Bermondsey Lido

The history of the lido in Southwark Park is well documented, before its dereliction and eventual paving over in 1992. But long prior to that pool, there was another lido, created by the Vestry of St Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, later the Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey. The exact date of the previous lido is unknown, but it is thought by local historians to have been constructed very quickly, several years before the Spa at the junction of Neckinger and Spa Road in 1854. The Bath and Wash-houses Act of 1846 permitted local authorities to borrow funds to construct pools in densely populated areas where access to bathing facilities was minimal. The lido was small and unfenced, using water from the Neckinger river, and was left relatively open and unsupervised as an amenity to the impoverished working class to bathe before and after their shifts at local tanneries and factories. However, it began to attract “an undesirable coterie of corrupt ruffians with scorn for moral values, carousing as if the faciltity were an extension of an East End gin palace, drinking until the early hours when those pursuing a life of moral earnestness are merely rising for the day”. The temperance movement was strong in the area around Borough Market, and swiftly organised for the lido to be shut down once word had spread about the non-stop party happening downriver. The Spa constructed later was an indoor facility, where access was controlled.

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