Welcome to the history of Ruislip lido. We thick the Lido and surrounding woodland is a fascinating place. We aim to uncover local legends and the fantastic history of the area. However, this is a long and arduous process, and we are currently uncovering all manner of historical information. We hope to update you soon!
We have included links to some books* that you may find interesting that cover the history of the Ruislip area.
If you have any information on the Lido, the miniature gauge railway, or the surrounding woodland that you feel will make a great addition, then please get in touch with us.
* Links to books are Amazon affiliate links, which means we benefit by receiving a few pennies from each sale through the link. Which helps us maintain and host this website 🙂 (there is no extra charge to you)
Where Ruislip Lido is now was a small shallow valley with a stream and some dwellings along its length forming the Hamlet of Park Hearne. This hamlet remained here until the Ruislip Enclosure of 1804 to 1814. At that time large areas of land in the old parish of Ruislip – which until then had been open fields and common grazing – were divided up and fenced by Act of Parliament.
To recoup the cost of organising these enclosures certain portions were sold and one such area was purchased by the Grand Junction Canal Company. At this time the company had built the canal and were seeking supplies of water to feed it. A dam was constructed across the valley (on which the boathouse now sits) to form a reservoir filled by the small streams from Copse Wood and what is now Northwood Golf Course. At the end of 1811, it was reported as filling with water. What provision, if any was made for the displaced cottagers is not known.
There is a story that the militia had to be brought out from Windsor to evict them. During the period 1950 – 1980, the Lido was in its heyday as a water-based recreation facility. The reservoir became a popular area for water skiing. Water was plentiful, the lake covered a much larger area than now and it received thousands of visitors each summer. At peak times London Transport ran three different routes, employing double-decker buses at twenty-minute intervals, to bring visitors from all over North West London. On the West shore stood the original 1930’s building, which housed catering facilities, bathers changing rooms, managers office and chlorination plant.
There were turnstiles at each entrance and charging for entry and car parking raised considerable revenue. During this period the Lido was used as a set for major films including The Young Ones with Cliff Richard and the Titanic sank in the Lido in the film A Night to Remember.
In the 1970s the council realised that the Lido was a valuable asset and decided to increase admission charges out of all proportion to what they had been previously. People stopped coming. One by one the traders left, unable to make a profit with the reduced numbers of visitors.
The Lido became an area for walking and over time, became very run down. In 1991 a private company took over management of the Lido. Access down a narrow street, close proximity to residential properties and serious water shortages contributed to the downfall of the venture. In 1993, having served notice on the management company, the council repossessed the grounds and premises. In 1994 the main building was destroyed by fire. The Lido grounds then entered a period of underfunding and neglect. Negotiations with Whitbread took place culminating in the opening of The Waters Edge public house on the original site of the 1930’s building. This venture has provided much-needed income for the lido to improve the facilities provided.
The Ruislip Lido Railway continues to grow and is a huge success. The Lido remains a pleasant place to walk surrounded by London’s First National Nature Reserve, Ruislip Woods. The council’s Trees and Woodland’s team now manage the two sites ensuring synergies between the differing needs of the two important sites.
This information first appeared on the Hillingdon government website, but since moving to a new website, the information is no longer available there, so we added it here.
More to Explore at Ruislip Lido
Introducing the newest addition to the Lido, which includes a community room that is available to hire.