Pools, People and Purpose…

September 18, 2009 at 7:10 am | Posted in Fun and Games | Leave a comment
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…is the title of the photographic exhibition currently on display in the shop of the clothes designer Margaret Howell. Last night the shop hosted a jolly interesting talk on lidos and swimming pool architecture. Brockwell-Lido-diver-50s_6This was one of the opening events for this year’s Open House weekend and the speakers were Ken Warpole and architect Keith Ashton. Warpole’s interest is in architecture, landscape and public policy and his talk focused on post-World War One debates about the necessity of exercise, light and fresh air for health and how this positively impacted upon the building of lidos in London the 1920s and 30s. He linked this with the health movements in Europe and America at the same time (in the case of Germany in the 1930s this obviously had a Nietzschean dark side), and clearly the Famous Five spring from this sort of ethos. They are an active bunch and although they have extremely hearty appetites they usually indulge in some sort of physical activity to work it all off in time for the next enormous meal.

Outdoor swimming, although not in lidos, is a popular FF pastime. The sea, plus Merran Lake (Five Go off in a Caravan), The Green Pool (Five Get into Trouble), the forbidden pool in Billycock Hill and Gloomy Water (in late October – brrrrrrr!) in Five on a Hike Together are just some examples that spring to mind. Get into Trouble poolSo, while it’s not quite the wild swimming espoused by Daniel Start, the late Roger Deakin and others, London lidos do provide something of the pleasures of swimming outdoors (along with fabulous deco architecture). Several lidos and pools should be open as part of the Open House weekend. The theme for 2009 is sustainability so there is also the opportunity to visit a number of weird and wonderful eco-friendly architectural experiments. Things book up really quickly but lots of people don’t turn up on the day so it’s still possible to get into some of the more popular venues.

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