Charlton Lido reopens this week…but in what state?

Charlton Lido, 14 March 2012
The old lido entrance has been demolished

Good news for local swimmers as Charlton Lido is set to reopen on Thursday this week. While the local press reports suggested that it would be reopening “after a £2m refurbishment“, recent photos suggest “will reopen while building works go on around it through the summer” might be a more accurate summary.

The plans are available to view online now but, in short, the developments will mean the introduction of:

  • indoor changing rooms
  • gym facilities
  • a cafe.

While some regulars will look back fondly on the basic facilities provided previously, anyone familiar with London Fields Lido will know that the addition of the cafe should prove very popular, providing somewhere to socialise and warm up or cool down after a swim. (In the current weather conditions anyone enterprising enough to turn up with a supply of hot chocolate this weekend could prove very popular).

What price a swim in SE7?
Pool users will be pleased to see that prices seem to have been held since last year, but would be justified in wondering why, at £6 for a pay-on-the-door adult swim, they pay a third more than swimmers at London Fields Lido, an identically-sized pool run by the same operator. A Twitter conversation with GLL earlier revealed not a great deal more than ‘prices vary from borough’ because of differing arrangements with ‘local partners’, ‘the majority of whom are local authorities’. This is presumably a reflection of the amount of subsidy that councils provide to the operator, but we’d greatly appreciate any insight into how this arrangement works in the comments box below (particularly if you’re a local councillor!). It’s also interesting to note that when I visited London Fields Lido on a chilly January morning, it was busier than I’ve seen Charlton Lido, save for the very brief heatwave in August last year.

Overall, though, it’s great to see the return of one of London’s few heated outdoor pools; if you go this weekend, tell us what it was like (and remember to wrap up warm when you get out of the pool).

21 thoughts on “Charlton Lido reopens this week…but in what state?

  1. Mark Sesnan March 26, 2013 / 11:44

    Dear Charlton Champion,

    I note the comments about the prices of swimming at Charlton Lido. Your readers will, I am sure appreciate that operating any swimming pool is a very expensive business and a heated open air olympic sized one is hugely expensive.

    The ‘on door’ charge of £6 for adults and £4 for children which we used last year still ended up with GLL losing £6,000 each week we were open. Even though we are a charitable social enterprise, we still need to make our business work!

    Of course the Lido trade is heavily weather related and if we have a good summer this year the figures will look Better. …so we won’t be relying on that then!

    Anyway, my main point in writing to you is to point out that the £6/£4 is the maximum ‘rock up’ price.
    Anybody can buy their ticket at least one day in advance online via our web site, at the Lido or at another Greenwich Leisure Centre for £5/£3 (Family tickets £15).
    Greenwich Card holders can get advance tickets for £4/£2. Adult holders of full leisure centre memberships can buy them for £3.
    Better still, during these Easter holidays, children will get in for £1 if they have a GreenwichCard !

    We all want the Lido to work, so the more people you tell the better.

    Thank you

    Mark Sesnan

    • Neil Clasper March 26, 2013 / 11:59

      Dear Mark,

      Many thanks for taking the time to respond. I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that the Lido is a great success; I’m looking forward to swimming there as frequently as I can (and also hoping that the weather improves). I appreciate your point on the difference between ‘on the door’ rates, and ‘in advance’ rates; however, I think it’s worth noting that a lot of the users I know (and comments on this site last summer have backed this up) find your website quite difficult and temperamental to use. If you were to improve a specific area of the customer experience (apart from building the cafe, gym, etc, of course…) I’d recommend a simplification of your pricing and online booking processes.

      Are you able to comment at all on how long the development is likely to take (eg when the gym facilities are going to be open)?



      • Mark Sesnan March 26, 2013 / 12:29


        The new building is due to be completed late Summer and this will provide initially the new Reception and the indoor swim changing.
        The fit out of the Gym, Studio and Caféteria will follow.

        Hope this helps.


        Mark Sesnan
        Managing Director GLL

        GLL is a Charitable Social Enterprise

  2. Peter Hart March 26, 2013 / 13:32

    I agree – the booking website is AWFUL! Spent about 20 minutes trying to book last year. Please make it more user-friendly!

  3. Brett March 28, 2013 / 13:36

    I used the lido for the first time last year shortly after its opening from the refurb and I was mightily impressed with the pool. The addition of indoor changing rooms and café will make this place even better. I always tell people about it and will certainly be back during the cold weather to try swimming in the heated waters.

  4. Mick Woods March 29, 2013 / 10:42

    It’s a shame that this Easter holiday looks like it will be freezing. I can’t wait to take my grandson for a dip!

  5. Neil Clasper March 29, 2013 / 13:39

    I went this morning. It was busier than I expected (more than 10 people in the pool when I arrived, and quite a large group arriving as we departed); the water was a decent temperature; it all looks a bit more austere than before, given two sides have been demolished and temporarily replaced with metal hoardings.

    Still, very good to have it back. Now to find a pub with a nice open fire for the afternoon…

  6. Chris April 4, 2013 / 17:56

    Have just noticed this item.

    In my humble opinion, anyone who uses the Ltdo in the current climate should be paid six quid, not have to fork out themselves!

  7. Clare April 10, 2013 / 13:59

    I went on Sunday, for the first time. I didn’t try to negotiate the booking system, opting instead to suck up the extra cost for fear of getting something horribly wrong and costing myself double!

    The entrance is obviously a bit of a building site and on Sunday it was colder in the reception area than on poolside. It was pretty busy, but we got in efficiently and the changing cubicles are obviously basic but fine. I particularly like the plastic roof of the cubicle which means it’s a bit like a greenhouse and keeps you a bit warmer as you change. There aren’t many lockers so I’d keep valuables to a minimum when you go.

    I didn’t wear a wetsuit and would have been way too hot if I had (though one poor chap was swimming in one). I noticed a couple of people in trisuits but mostly people had their normal cossies on, as did I. I was plenty warm enough and if anything once I’d been swimming for a while I was a little too warm.

    If you’re not used to a 50m pool beware you don’t get caught out by having to go the extra distance without touching the side! As I’m training for an open water swim of 750m the extra distance in the pool is a bit of a bonus and my main reason for using the lido, the outdoor part is secondary really.

    I went at 9:10am on Sunday and it was busy – full of nutters like me powering up and down and very few what I would call true leisure swimmers. Consequently there was a fair bit of testosterone flying around, with some chaps acting particularly aggressively to other swimmers who they perceived to be in their space (me included) and generally not looking where they were going, and I recommend waiting until perhaps 9:45am for a more relaxed experience.

    All in all though I enjoyed it, and the basic nature of the place added to the fun. It almost feels that adding indoor changing and a cafe will spoil a bit of its charm, but hey, that’s progress.

    I then ran the 6km home with my wet swimming gear in a rucksack. I did say I was a nutter…

  8. Victoria Pearce April 13, 2013 / 06:54

    I used the lido regularly last year & in the rececent years that it opened & was unheated. I have also swim at London Fields & used to live in the East End.

    I had my first swim this year last Sunday & am looking forward to going this morning & to taking full advantage of the membership that I have taken out.

    By taking out a membership this really makes the cost far more manageable if you plan to use regularly – I just thought I’d mention that this is an option as I can’t see this has been mentioned on the threads.

    Regarding comparing with London Fields usage, I think this is tricky as we have a completely different catchment area. London Fields has Broadway market literally on its doorstep & is situated in one of the most vibrant & fashionable areas of East London.
    There are places to eat, shop & hang out so that gives multiple reasons to attract visitors.

    A few ideas I’d line to propose that I think could help to make Charlton Lido viable financially for its operators are:

    1. Better Signage on Shooters Hill Road in addition to the banners. If there were covered notice boards or large scale graphics showing passers by what the lido looks like inside, plus the weeks opening hours that could help draw new uses in.

    2. Membership options for children. Again paying for regular one off uses, even via website booking, can add up quickly. The holiday swim for a quid promos are good. However my daughter has regular swimming lessons at Thr Eltham Centre which I pay for by direct debit. This entitles her to swim for free at all the borough’s pools, but not the lido – why ? She will be starting at The Greenwich Free School in Sept & I would like to think she can come to the Lido regularly after school on the days she finishes early enough.

    3. To attract more children better signage on Shooters Hill Road again about the BMX track situated at the back of Hornfair Park? Until last week I had no idea this brilliant facility (legacy from Olympics) existed. It’s free & there were only 2 kids there on the warm sunny day I walked past! So run a combined BMX for free & Swim combination promotion

  9. Sam April 14, 2013 / 10:44

    What would be fantastic would be the ability to buy a ticket online for a swim later the same day. I tend to wait to see what the weather’s like and how I’m feeling/what my day’s like before deciding on going for a swim. Currently I have to decide 24 hours in advance, or else pay full rates on the door (If I book ahead, my category of GLL membership means I’m entitled to half price at the Lido).
    So I end up either not going at all, or risking ye anciente chlorine pit at the Arches.
    I can’t see how same day online bookings aren’t possible? Thanks.

  10. Maria May 7, 2013 / 06:51

    completely agree with the last post and my experience last year with the appalling online booking system was utterly frustrating. As for the price, it’s a bit steep for something so basic, but I love it.

  11. A May 11, 2013 / 11:37

    As a Better member, I can use London Fields for free without having to book. Personally, I won’t pay £6 to turn up on the door at Charlton and never know what I’m doing, so can’t book in advance (Still £3 against London Fields zero). As a semi-competitive swimmer, I have swum in hundreds of pools across the country (indoors and outdoors) and the price point at Charlton is hugely out of touch. Yes, operating swimming pools is an expensive business, but you have to look at what your market is willing to pay…

    • Neil Clasper May 11, 2013 / 14:33

      If the Better membership allows you into London Fields, does it not also allow you into Charlton lido? Or is that just the swim membership? I’ve not worked out how they all work yet.

  12. Inde May 20, 2013 / 22:32

    Does anyone know if there is a slash pool for little uns that can’t yet swim?

    Pictures on ‘Better’ web site seem to show one, but I can’t find no mention of it.

    Appreciate any response as the Lido looks a fun option.

    • Inde May 20, 2013 / 22:34

      That would be, ‘I can’t find mention of it’ 😛

    • Neil Clasper May 21, 2013 / 06:15

      There is a splash pool for kids. It’s not always open, so it’s probably worth phoning in advance. I think it’s generally open during summer weekends, though.

      • Inde May 23, 2013 / 21:24

        Thanks Neil!

        • Mark Sesnan May 24, 2013 / 08:22

          Charlton Lido

          I thought I would take the opportunity to give Charlton Champion readers a bit more information on progress at the Lido and to respond to some of the comments.

          Here are some headlines:
          The £15 family ticket is now available on the door.
          Kids for a Quid will be operating during the bank holiday and half term week – but only with a GreenwichCard – get one at any Greenwich Leisure Centre.
          The Lido will be open until 5pm every day from the beginning of June until further notice.
          The new Tennis Courts, adult and children’s courts will be available to book and pay online and at the Lido reception shortly and these courts will be floodlit from September.
          The free to play Basketball court will be refurbished in the next few weeks.
          By far the cheapest and easiest way to use the Lido regularly is with the GLL Better Swim Card, you pay by monthly direct debit and you get to use 70 GLL Better Swimming Pools across London. This includes London Fields Lido, The Oasis, Crystal Palace and Ealing Gurnell 50m pools and lots more. Join over the bank holiday weekend and avoid the £15 activation fee. You can join online, at the Lido or at any Greenwich Leisure Centre.
          If you want cheaper Lido tickets for one off visits, you will always save a pound or two by buying them online in advance. You can buy online any time up to the start of the session.
          When busy. customers with online tickets will be fast tracked past the queue.
          We are bringing in additional temporary toilets to try to cope with demand (I have to apologise for these, this is our only solution at present).

          And the really good news: GLL Board have now given the full green light to the major investment needed to complete the project. This will deliver a high quality; Gym, Activity Studio and Cafeteria as well as new Reception, Bike storage, Heated Changing Rooms etc.
          The total scheme cost is £4,500,000, £3,500,000 of which GLL is funding directly, the rest is from grants.
          All building and fit out works will be completed well before the end of the year and the intention is that the Lido will now stay open all year round 7 days a week!

          Can I thank the small but growing band of regular customers we have already. You will all know that we need a lot more regular users to make the Lido viable and ensure its future. I hope you will help us make it a success.

          Best wishes and enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend.

          Mark Sesnan
          Managing Director
          GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited)
          GLL is a Charitable Social Enterprise


  13. Neil Clasper May 24, 2013 / 08:44

    Many thanks for the update Mark.

  14. Pawel July 19, 2013 / 22:02

    Hello, went there today after having short day at work. I checked the place out yesterday in the evening and i spent assive amount of time finding it. Firstly walking from the charlton station (its nowhere close to it), signs for lido were terrible, in fact there were absolutely none, even at the main junctions and nearer the place. When finally got there, walked into the park and wandered around there for like fifteen minutes up to the tennis courts and back trying to find the entrance. I knew there are works around but even local people being in the park didnt know how to enter the site. Is it so hard to put piece of paper on the wooden wall with some arrow and directions? Finally i walked out of the park as the entrance happened to be from the residential road adjancent to the park. So that was yesterday and now my today’s experience. Generally it was very nice. Was there between 3-6.45pm and the lanes werent that busy and I could comfortably do the lengths. Unfortunately after ky first swimming session I realised the lockers are ńot single person friendly at all. As i havent read it at first being probably overexcited, the locker retain the20p coin so once you open the locker if you want to close your valuables you need to put another one and so on. Single person can take the risk of keeping things like phone with music, book, paper etc. Near the towel while swimming. And trust noone will nick it or have plenty of coins and relock things in it after every break for sunbathing before going for another swimming session. Bit cramped around the pool with the towels to lay down but the pool itself is nice, oept reasonably clean and water is nice and warm, around 25C. Will probably be going back on another hot, sunny day.

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