London heatwave: crowds queue for hours to cool off in London's lidos in busiest summer ever

London's lido bosses have hailed the scorching summer as their busiest ever — and a fond reminder of the days when the outdoor pools were at the heart of communities.

Sweltering crowds hoping for a cooling dip have been queuing for up to four hours at Tooting Bec, Brockwell and Parliament Hill, where one in-one-out policies have been in operation.

At the Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath this weekend, visitors were barred from the “incredibly busy” water.

Charlton Lido has extended its opening hours on two days a week to cope with the demand.

Lynsey Wright, general manager, said: “It’s the busiest summer we’ve had. It’s been really good, the staff have been great.

Visitors to London's Lidos is on the increase as temperatures continue to remain high in the capital (NIGEL HOWARD ©)

“Loads of families come back day in, day out. They’re going to have a lot of memories at the lido this summer.”

Ms Wright added that older swimmers had told her that they had been reminded of days gone by. “They remember the lido how it used to be,” she said. “It reminds them of the days when it was really busy and had more of a community feel.”

Mike Martin, 82, who fought to save London Fields Lido and campaigned for its reopening in 2006, said the demand this summer showed the need for more lidos across the capital.

Georgia Twyford at Tooting Lido

Now chairman of the lido’s user group, he said: “It’s about time there was some money available to build more because things are getting warmer. There would be a big appetite.

“We used to have more lidos years ago, but a large number of them were destroyed. It gives me pride to see people enjoying it now.”

Tooting Lid: Arona Dia (centre) with his friends (NIGEL HOWARD ©)

Patryk Wewior, senior duty manager at Tooting Bec Lido, said: “Almost every day it’s been close to 30 degrees we have been at maximum capacity in the pool — which is 1,600 — and in the baby pool.”

'Swimming is a lovely respite'

Georgia Twyford , 25, a vet who lives in Parsons Green: “I go once a week, when I have the time. I tried coming yesterday but the line was insane. There’s definitely a need for more lidos, especially as it seems to be getting hotter. It’s been a life-saver — having somewhere to cool off is good.”

Kamila Polack , 35, and Vanja Sarkic, 29, from Wimbledon, were with nine-month-old son Stefan. Mr Sarkic said: “We wanted to take the little one for a swim, we’re teaching him to enjoy water. Today’s our first time here ... It delivered, but there were huge queues outside. When does a summer like this happen? This is probably it.” Ms Polack said she had swapped the gym for a swim. She added: “We came here today because the weather has been hot, but also it’s cheaper.”

Georgie Pex , a 27-year-old senior accountant manager who lives in Tooting Broadway: “It tends to get long queues over the summer which puts you off, but it’s nice to have somewhere to go after getting all hot and sticky on the Tube.”

Arona Dia , 19, works for a think-tank and lives in Brixton: “I have a friend who lives not far from here and he said come over. This is my first time here, it’s good fun and it’s been good to be with my friends.”

David and Donna Hall , both 36, came to visit the lido after work before heading home to Tooting Bec. Mr Hall said: “It’s a fantastic asset — you don’t have air conditioning in your house when it’s hot all day and all night, so it’s a lovely respite.” Mrs Hall said: “It’s really great, it’s a lovely temperature after work.”

Mr Wewior said the lido trialled a policy yesterday allowing parents and children up to 30 minutes in the baby pool before encouraging them to come out to cut down on waiting times.

He added: “Even when we tell people it’s three or four hours waiting time, they’re still waiting, which is actually quite nice.” Chemistry student Arthur Ingamells, 19, is working over summer as a lifeguard at the lido, where his parents met 25 years ago. “My mum loves that I work here now, she brings me doughnuts,” he said.

Today the lidos can expect to be brimming over again with temperatures predicted to hit 32C. The crowds may stay away from tomorrow, though. Thunder and showers are expected this evening and temperatures are then forecast to drop to the mid-20s
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