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A brief history of Ruislip Lido

Back in 1811, Ruislip Lido wasn’t a place for fun. It was built to help get water to London through a big canal. But it didn’t work out, and after changing hands a few times, it ended up with the Grand Union Canal Company in 1929. It wasn’t until 1933 that things started to get interesting.

Turning into a Lido

In the 1930s, they changed the reservoir into a lido. They built a cool Art Deco building and set up a swimming spot. People could also rent rowing boats, and there was even a special boating area just for kids.

The lido became famous for water-skiing, with big competitions that people watched on TV. Jon Pertwee, who played Doctor Who, was one of the folks who started the water-ski club there. There was also a sailing club, but when the water level got lowered in the 1970s to stop nearby homes from flooding, sailing wasn’t great anymore.

The Mini Train

One of the coolest things at the lido was the mini railway, started in 1945. It was just a small track at first, but it’s grown a lot since then. Now, volunteers run it, and it’s a big hit with visitors.

A brief history of Ruislip Lido Harrow Online
Ruislip Lido Railway. Image: Chris J Wood

Tough Times

The 1970s were rough. The lido got too expensive to get into, and not as many people came. The main building got trashed and was eventually burnt down in 1993. They knocked it down the next year, but by 1996, they built a new restaurant that looked a lot like the old one.

The Lido during Covid

When COVID-19 hit, places like Ruislip Lido saw big changes. Despite the lockdown, as soon as rules relaxed a bit, people rushed to spots like the lido to catch some sun, especially during a hot bank holiday in May. The place was packed, with tons of folks trying to enjoy a bit of normal.

A brief history of Ruislip Lido Harrow Online
An image sent to Harrow Online in May 2020 during Covid

But this led to worries about safety because the lido was so crowded, it was hard for people to keep apart as they should. The police even had to step in when too many people gathered together, ignoring the advice to stay two meters away from others. It was a tough time, trying to balance the need to get outdoors with the need to stay safe.

The Lido Now

These days, Ruislip Lido is a great place to hang out. There’s a beach, woods, and the train is still chugging along. It’s a favorite spot for families and anyone looking to have a good time outdoors.

Ruislip Lido isn’t just about the water and the beach; it’s a gateway to exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding woods. If you’re into guided tours, there are “Led Walks” around Ruislip Lido and Woods that offer a great way to learn about the local flora and fauna. These walks are perfect for families or anyone looking to connect with nature.

For the little ones, the playground near the beach is a big draw, although it’s worth noting that it went through some refurbishment work for a few weeks in early February, which temporarily limited play equipment to the beach area.

If you’re planning an event or a visit to the Lido, the H13 and 331 buses make stops close to its proximity. Be sure to take lots of sun-cream in the summer months!

Ruislip Lido has come a long way from its start as a water reservoir. It’s had its ups and downs but has turned into a spot where lots of fun memories are made.

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