Leytonstone’s Lost Lido

In this meditation on the Hollow Ponds there are two mysteries left unresolved. Firstly the sign on the boathouse that reads, “Have You Seen the Hollow Pond Bear”. I assumed at the time that it was a reference to the area’s long heritage as a gay cruising spot but on reflection wonder if it might actually refer to a Grizzly. Over at the Welsh Harp Reservoir between Barnet and Brent an actual bear escaped from a menagerie there in 1871. So there is precedent for this kind of thing.

Whipps Cross Lido

Opening of Whipps Cross Lido in 1932 From the Waltham Forest Guardian – credit Vestry House Museum

Absent from the video is the Whipps Cross Lido created in 1905 and returned to the forest in 1983. Wikipedia mentions that it was known locally as “the Batho”. I had half a mind to find the footprint of the site but had spent so long filming the geese in slow-motion that I’d used up my time – the sojourn was over. But somewhere beneath the grass north of the Hollow Pond between Lea Bridge and Snaresbrook Roads there lurks the lost lagoon of Leytonstone.


Here’s an interesting article about the creation of the Hollow Ponds from the local paper


2018 Update

Finally went back to look for the Whipps Cross Lido in this video


  1. Mike Holliday   •  

    I’m pretty sure I know where the footprint of the Lido is, John. I walked in that part of Epping Forest quite a bit during the 1990s, and I recall an area that I always thought of as a bit odd, with some sort of artificial bank, overgrown with vegetation and running at right angles to Snaresbrook Road, and a flattish area by the side of it. The only thing that surprises me is that it only “went back to the forest” as late as 1983. I’ll get back there shortly and take some photos (just as soon as I’ve done the second leg of my mad walk up the River Roding from the Thames to its source).

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks Mike – that certainly tally’s with where it’s described as being. I think there are some aerial photos of the outline somewhere online. Look forward to hearing about the Roding walk

  2. Mike Holliday   •  

    I visited the area yesterday and wrote a short blog post with some photos: http://www.holli.co.uk/blog-lost-lido.htm. I found a few remains, even though it wasn’t quite how I recalled it!

    At the top right of that page are links to a description of the first two sections of my walk up the Roding.

  3. Mark   •  

    The LIdo was great fun, A lare oblong pool with a round driving pool by the entrance. Much enjouyed, especially in the summer of 76. I’m surprised that it was gone by 1983, but as a boy of 11 in 1976, things obviously passed me by. And then we moved away in 79.

    • Chas daldry   •  

      Mark i went to Royal Wanstead boarding school 1967 to 1972 n used to go over the pool early mornings n Break the ice up as it was frozen n used to do my cross country runs through the forest great days.

  4. Pingback: Looking for Leytonstone's Lost Lido at Whipps Cross - the lost byway

  5. David Morrison   •  

    I’m now 80 so my long term memory is exceptionally good yes The Lido was a place us kids would go in the summer months of the 40s and 50s , I lived in Daisy Road South Woodford , a handful of us would walk there ending up in the out door Lido having a right old lough , when you approached the main entrance there was always a strong smell of chlorine in the air , once inside you were given a metal frame to put your clothes in .
    Non of us were good swimmers so splashed about in the shallow end .
    At the deep10ft end there were diving boards that we would jump off of and fight like mad to get to the steps and safety , by the end of the summer we were jumping off the top board and lived to tell the tale .
    The 3 large fountains were great fun to climb on and have the water splash all over you , the pool was surrounded by concrete Terrace where you could go and sit or lay and sunbath .
    In the changing rooms we would swing about on the green metal beams until getting chucked out On our way home we would buy a penny slice of bread and butter pudding Yum Yum .
    The other swimming pool we would use in the winter months was Cattell Road leytonstone , on the corner of the High Rd was a great pie and mash cafe Yum Yum .
    Right now I’m visiting our family in Perth West Australia returning in March to our home in Mudeford Dorset , Happy Day’s .

    Dave Morrison .

  6. John Leeming   •  

    You more or less got the lido right. It was where the whole of the raised area is now. The lido was filled in with rubble and soil until it was level with the surrounding banks, so the pool itself is several metres below the surface. You won’t see any tiles, but there is the odd pipe and cable poking through. There was a metal fence around the whole site for a few years after it closed, but that was removed in the late 1980s. To complicate matters the ponds were dredged a few years later, and the sludge was spread over the whole area of the former lido, making the mound a little higher. This fertile sludge encouraged plant growth, and nature has taken over. Plenty of blackberries in the summer, but any bricks or lumps of concrete or metal you find may have come from the infill rather than the lido itself.

  7. Joyce   •  

    I remember going to the lido with my best friend back in 1973/4. We were aged 10 and 11 and lived in Leytonstone. It was a beautiful sea of green and so peaceful.

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