Heritage: The original Valentines Lido, Redbridge's finest

Valentines Lido at Valentines Park in Gants Hill, Redbridge, London

The former Valentines Lido, which was opened in 1924 before closing during the 90s - Credit: Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre

The news that the Valentines Lido is to be resurrected has been met with positivity across the borough.

With full details still to be finalised, what's certain is that there will be outdoor swimming in Redbridge once again.

By pledging to restore this one-time Gants Hill gem to its former glory, Redbridge Council is set to revive a community asset which first opened in 1924.

To honour the news, the Recorder has gone back through the archives alongside the Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre to learn more about the original Valentines Lido.

Valentines Lido at Valentines Park in Gants Hill, Redbridge, London - diving board

Work is already underway to design the Lido to complement the existing landscaping in Valentines Park - Credit: Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre

Readers will likely know that the lido was demolished by the local authority in 1995, but what may be less known is how it ended up in the hands of the council in the first place.

Why? Financial mismanagement.

The private company which controlled the lido went bankrupt in the early 1990s, meaning it reverted to the council which sanctioned its demolition after some 71 years of public service.

Keeping with the money theme, the original lido cost a relatively modest £5,500 to build - albeit in the 1920s.

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For context, the 2022 restoration is part of an £11million package dedicated to improving Redbridge's leisure facilities - a clear indication of how much the financial landscape has changed.

One constant is the Recorder's interest. Thanks to the Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre, this paper has seen a preserved clipping from a write-up of the 1924 opening.

Opening of the original lido in Valentines Park, Gants Hill, Redbridge

A picture clipping taken at the opening of the original Valentines Lido on August 2, 1924 - Credit: Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre

From that coverage it's clear how those who opened the lido saw its arrival as an important step in the "progressive town of Ilford".

Fast forward to 2022 and its renaissance is arguably seen in similar terms by a council determined to provide better leisure facilities.

The 1924 write-up also revealed that the original lido was inspired by an equivalent found in Lewisham, seen by councillors taking a tour of London's open-air baths to drum up ideas.

One line from the 1924 article sticks out as a stark reminder of the era in which the original lido opened.

"If it had not been for that little affair of the war they would have had the bath before."

The original Valentines Lido opened on August 2, 1924; less than six years after WWI ended in November 1918.

Significant historical context.