Memories of Ruislip Lido

Memories of Ruislip Lido, mainly from the 1960's and 70's

I was pleased to visit the Lido recently (2006) and overjoyed to see how well it is maintained.

My first memory of visiting the Lido was in the big freeze of 1947 when I, as a 9 year old, walked across the reservoir 
with my father - to the beach area, where shortly my Father was to be responsible for importing hundreds of tons of sand.
My Father used to work in the old Grand Union Canal offices on the reservoir, and I believe it was the company chairman, John Miller,
who asked Dad to develop the Lido as a recreational area for war-torn Londoners.
I have thankful memories of John Miller, as on each of my childhood birthdays, he used to send me a card with £5 inside - a tremendous amount in those days, especially for a primary school child!

I went with Dad to somewhere near Enfield, I think, to choose the engine for the railway. I liked the big blue engine and fortunately, the experts agreed with me and the railway got under way.

I was pleased to see the station still called "Woody Bay".  This was the name of a small bay near Combe Martin in North Devon
where we used to holiday in the early years after the war, and I think my Mother suggested the name. Of course the line was much shorter in those days, but it did run past the zoo, which unfortunately is  now long gone.

Once, a wallaby escaped from the compound and was chased by Dad and others across west Middlesex until the animal was recaptured in Southall Bus Garage. There were also the donkeys and donkey rides, and when I was a little older, I was even allowed to ride the pony!
Incidentally I can still remember the discussions had on the pronunciation of "Lido".  Many wanted to follow the style of other open air swimming pools and call it "Lie-do", But Dad insisted in "Lee-do".I don't know why, but I believe he had read about Venice Lido somewhere and thought that was right.

One of my last endearing memories was of a large family and friends party in the office block to celebrate my Father's award of the MBE.
Nice to keep in touch,  I consider the Lido as a sort of record of some of my father's work and it certainly gave me many happy hours - not having to pay any entrance fees of course!

Before you can understand the Lido in the 50's you have to understand how poor the country was in the aftermath of the war. Rationing was still in force, TV was a rarity and very few people owned cars so having an amenity like the Lido close by was a wonderful treat, especially for us children. However, my first encounter with English class distinctions occurred when pronouncing the word "Lido". My parents, who had pretensions of upper mobility, insisted that it should be pronounced "Leedo" while my school friends at Lady Bankes cheerfully said "Lyedo". The kids who lived closest had no such problem as they all called it "The Reservoy". 

My first visits were, naturally, supervised by Mum who would gather up sandwiches and tea and us three kids and we would go to Ruislip Manor Station to wait for the 158 bus to the Lido. If it was a warm day, the bus would be crowded. It is my impression that London Transport would add buses on busy days as I have distinct memories of several buses lined up outside the Lido. In those days there was no car park, just a turnaround place for the buses.

There would be quite a long line waiting to get in and we would look through the chain link fence at all the delights awaiting us. After Mum had paid for "one and three halves" we were in and turned right to walk up past the boathouses to the beach. There was a full height iron turnstile guarding the exit and I knew that once you had exited you had to go home!

It seems to me that almost everything cost 3d at the Lido. Admission, the motorboat ride across to the beach (that was a luxury!), the railway (which was then steam operated), ice cream.

I learned to swim on that beach. I remember there was a bank of cold water taps so you could wash the Lido water off your body, at the far end of the beach, close to the railway. Then came the polio scare and nobody swam anywhere. I believe the Lido had a difficult summer.

My first fishing expeditions were also there. Armed with a tin of maggots from Acton's in Ruislip Manor I would fish for roach and perch. I envied the serious fishermen who would fish for pike from the other side of the lake, but I was too squeamish to fish with live (i.e., smaller fish) bait. I never caught much anyway, those fish had probably seen to many fishermen to be fooled by my attempts.

For some reason we never spent much time at the restaurant end. It was mostly a grassy area and the swimming area had been concreted. Unfortunately the concrete would attract a particularly slippery species of algae and it was hard to keep your footing. I was really too young to understand this but, in retrospect I believe this was the area where mating rituals were carried out as I remember quantities of American servicemen (known, of course, as Yanks) laying around playing portable radios (disgusting!), piercing tins of beer with special openers (outrageous!) and on one memorable occasion getting up, sprinting to the water's edge for a spectacular dive, only to split his head wide open on the concrete that lay only two inches below the surface (serve him damn well right, the show off!)

I hope I have given you some of the flavour of how it was. I did visit there last September. It now looks kind of sad.

My Mother was the cook at the Lido. She started working there during the war for the Grand Union Canal Co. Then after she cooked for the Rotary Club every Tuesday. My mother was Elsie Clayton, there was a lady called Mrs Collett who also worked there, she lived in Breakspear Road next door to Edie & Reg Snelling who also worked there. There was another lady, the sister of Edie Snelling, her name was Hilda, (her son was married to a lady called Lena who was somehow related to Bob Monkhouse!). 

I think the man who looked after the boats was called Fred, he lived in the house by the boathouse. I used to help to sell the ices and drinks on the sand side. This would have been in the early sixties.

The manager was a man called Newstead & he lived in the property opposite the main building.  The champion water skier was David Nations and he was a regular visitor to the Lido. When we moved to Guernsey my mother saw and spoke to him there - he was very surprised to see her!

There was the main building, then further along there was an area called the Loggia, here they sold indoor teas etc. In the main building were the offices and the hall above where they held dinners and various occasions, then downstairs was a cafeteria where they sold hot beverages & cakes. 

Cliff Richards sat on the steps drinking tea and eating "Fly cakes"....

I am intrigued by the third item on the memories of Ruislip Lido page (which is just above here) and the entry by Jean nee Clayton in which Jean refers to Mrs. Collett from Breakspear Road and I wonder if this Mrs. Collett was my mother or grandmother who lived at No. 8, Breakspear Road? I was born in 1939 at Hillingdon Hospital but my home address was 8, Breakspear Road and my mother was 28 years old in 1939. It is also quite possible that it was my grandmother who worked at the Lido or it was a Miss Collett, one of my maiden aunts. I hope Jean is well reads this item.

During the war we lived in Ruislip Manor and in 1947 moved to Northwood Hills and the top of Haste Hill. It was a ten minute walk through Park Wood from Haste Hill to the Lido and I spent many hours fishing there until I married and moved away in 1961.

I watched some of the filming of ‘A Night to Remember’ from the reed bed adjacent to the swimming area, we had been fishing nearby during the day but night had fallen and we were outside of the arc of lighting. The waves were created using a contraption made of oil drums and scaffold planks and pushed back and forth by at least four men and it looked like very hard work but the effect was quite realistic.

In the early nineteen fifties I did a greengrocers round with a horse and cart and our base was a stable yard at the junction of Breakspear Road and Howletts Lane owned my uncle George Coster. My boss, Jack Rogers, lived in Reservoir Road opposite the main gate to the Lido.

My uncle, George Coster, owned the plot of land, now a housing estate, bounded by Breakspear Road to the West, the Feeder from Ruislip Reservoir to the East, Howletts Lane to the South and almost up to Bury Street to the North. The whole was a free range poultry farm. I never ever remembered it flooding, which I believe is the reason put forward for lowering the water level at the Lido during the winter months, supposedly to protect the housing estate from flooding.

When we were kids living on Haste Hill we fished for newts in several ponds around Park Wood and the Lido. I realised later that these unnatural rectangular ponds were actually gun emplacements. I now understand that if the German bombers were using the arrow shape of the Reservoir as a pointer to Northwood headquarters it made sense to site anti aircraft guns in that area. In most instances the gun pits were sheltered from aircraft approaching Northwood from the South by the dense trees of Park and Copse woods. I moved to Haste Hill, aged seven in 1947, the war had only been over for two years but in that very short space of time the gun pits had become naturalised ponds and an endless source of amusement for budding fishermen. We later graduated to the Lido and real fish.

My name is Terry Collett. I have two sisters and a brother, Elizabeth, Gillian and Derrick and we all played at the Lido, it was so close to home. I fell through the ice once, fortunately at the shallow North end but it was touch and go. I have so many memories of the Lido.
Terry Collett

My dad was a life saving instructor at Highgrove swimming pool and so used to man the rescue boat at the lido when they had any water skiing things on. My brother and I used to fish regularly up there. I spent most of my summer holidays up there viewing the local talent.

I worked at Ruislip Lido  in 1974, I was 18 at the time.  I was born in Ruislip in 1957 (Hillingdon Hospital) and lived in Broadwood Avenue (the no-through-road-end) . My father finally sold the house in 1988.  The woods at the bottom of the road led into Ruislip Woods where you could (and still can, of course!) then walk right through to the Lido - it was an incredibly fantastic place to grow up in. All that freedom of the woods! My brother and other friends in the road would all take to our bikes and cycle through the woods, damming up little streams, climbing trees, haring around like kids do. Going to the Lido was a regular thing, either on foot or our bikes. There were times you had to pay on admission - from the woods side there was and still is the turnstile entrance.  I remember sussing out that when Hillingdon was Labour run,  all the local council swimming pools and the Lido were free admission - when the Tories were in power it was a different case. Consequently we made plenty of holes in the perimeter fencing around the Lido (on the railway side!) to gain entrance -  we were local, we weren't going to pay!! There were always loads of gaps, anyway!  The railway was really small in those days (mid 60's to mid 70's), just the original circuit.  The play park area by the beachy bit was always there.   

From the couple of huts that are still there, one would be a first aid post and the other sold ice creams and stuff. The swimming area there was just like a beach and there was never a restriction on swimming at that time, that we noticed.  Around the other side, there was a concreted swimming area in front of the old building - that building was the epitome of beach-iness for somewhere so far from the real coast!  The changing areas were typical sectioned 'cubicles' with wooden doors, just like beach hut changing areas. The swimming area on this side was sectioned off quite clearly and if you swum out far enough there was the lifeguards raft - when I was little it was the ultimate cool to be seen on the raft and when I was 18 I had a job at the Lido and ended up being one of those lifeguards for that summer.

 Before my teens, I have many memories of hiking through the woods from Broadwood Avenue with family and dog (always a dog in tow) to the Lido. Most childhood winters produced sufficient snow to make it through the woods to Haste Hill for sledging and I remember thick ice covering the Lido, enough to skate on (although I was never allowed to do that). Even in the very late 70's the ice was thick enough for skaters and I had a dog at that time who broke that ice so she could swim!  Haste Hill was THE place  when it snowed! It was incredibly beautiful walking through those woods to the Lido when there was that cold, raw, frozen-ness - the trees bent with the weight of snow - a real winter wonderland.
Anyhow, when I was 18  I got fed up with being a secretary and blagged a job at Ruislip Lido for the 'season' - which meant starting in February or March when the weather was really raw still.  Lots of prepping up the whole place for the oncoming season!  The boathouse was there then, with the clock tower on top (which I notice has gone! Where is that clock?). I remember being pushed up the clock tower hatch to change the hands on the clock only to have the trap door shut behind me and I  had to stay up there all lunch break. The boathouse was the only warm place in  the Lido except for the Manager's office which was in the original building,  just about where the main entrance still is.  I was really teased for being the only female.  I was once told to take a rowing boat round and drag up the weed which grew and grew in the water. I though this sounded quite reasonable so spent many a happy hour rowing and dredging weed, not realising the guys were taking the rip. 
The paddle boats were, with your back to the Watersedge, to the right in a sectioned off bit.  When I worked there you got given a bus conductor type ticket machine to hang around your neck to issue the tickets for these things!! If you worked there, depending on your 'skills', you were rota-d for first aid post duties (beach - side and also main building side), rowing boat duties, paddle boat duties, lifeguard duties and a general do-it-all roamer, who just sauntered from main building side to beach side looking official!!
Rowing boat duties and life guarding on the raft were the coolest things! Basically you  got a great tan and god help anyone who got into difficulties in the water!  There was a Confessions .. (from a Holiday Camp?) film filmed there that year, and although I ate from their catering wagons I can't remember which film it was!!  Starstruck I guess!

As you stand with your back to the main building and look left, of course there were the WATER SKIERS !!  David Nations was the man in charge of them together with two other guys - Paul Addlington (or something like that) and a guy whose name I can't remember (looked like Che Guevara and loved Bob Marley!) Did you know the Lido used to host the Old Spice Water Ski Championships? Before it all moved to Thorpe Park?  Water Skiers of the time were John Battleday, Karen Morse....other names are gone! There was a cafe just before the turning into the Lido (coming from Ruislip, on the right,) in which we used to eat big  fry ups before work with the water ski-ing team.  Also the pub The Six Bells (before it became BIG) was the end of the day hangout for staff from the Lido. It was tiny in those days - a real country pub with stone floors etc.
During my childhood of cycling and playing in the woods, from the Broadwood Avenue side, there is someone I remember we used to call Naked Norman.  I don't know if anyone else remembers him but he used to walk around in the woods wearing very little under his overcoat or mac and he became the stuff of childhood scary fantasies.  I suppose you would call him a 'flasher' now, although I am not sure that  any of us were actually ' flashed'. There were 8 or 9 of us Broadwood Avenue and Park Avenue kids hanging together in those days and we all knew of Naked Norman, but I do wonder if anyone else was aware of him??
I was visiting the Lido quite a lot from last January until the end of May. The train circuit has changed massively to encompass most of the Lido now. I didn't go there for most of the 80's and 90's as I moved to Sussex, had children etc., but I heard the original building was badly vandalised before being set on fire. It's  a real shame because it was such an art-deco piece of work, as all the old photos will show.  I do remember that before the car park is where it is now (next to Lakeside) you used to drive down where the ski school was into a car park there.
The Lido first started charging for admission in the late 40's. At certain hours there were two entrances on the wood's side, one man at each selling tickets. (We climbed the fence in between, like everyone else). The fire must have occurred after 1949. (fire in 1949? ed)  The swimming area had diving boards, levels, changing rooms, and a small cafeteria. I think there may have been a charge to use the changing rooms. There were two size rowing boats and Skiffs  which had sliding seats, there was a long wait to get a boat during the weekends, very popular. I do not remember any paddle boats before 1949.. I do not remember any fishing laws applicable, most was done in the north eastern end amongst the bull rushes. 

In the beach area there were soft drinks, ice blocks etc and there was a small play area for the little ones. The whole Lido area was well maintained in the 40's and was much used. Most came by bus from Ruislip station, the locals walked through the woods along the main path from Broadwood Avenue. During the summer months the woods was very busy, known as an ideal area for romancing (and other things). 

During many winters the Lido froze over completely. We rode our bicycles all over it and enjoyed ice skating and tobogganing. I was told that one year they got a Land Rover on it all over and lit several fires in large metal drums. 

There were a lot of Bird Watching groups assembled around the north eastern end. There were two families of white swans nesting each year.


During the thirties entry to the reservoir dam area was free. We used to change in a hut below the face of the dam - one for each sex. There were boats for hire and I recall a drowning. The Lido was built around around 1937. For a while there was a dance held there every Saturday night and there were memberships to the club for sale. You could pay to get in to bathe at any time. I used the boats during the late forties for a while. The boats were rented by the hour  and well maintained. 


 It was my playground in the seventies when I was growing up so remember going there to fish, sunbathe and swim (when it was still at the old water level).  I remember one incident after I left school and had just started work at British Airways in South Ruislip.  A guy I worked with had been out drinking with some friends and for a laugh had got into Ruislip Lido at night and taken some rowing boats.  One of the boats capsized in the middle and one of the group drowned.  Think this would have been around 76/77.  Guess it wasn't the first incident like that to happen.  Also from my own experience, my friends and I used to go up there at night and in the winter once when the lake was almost completely frozen we walked out on the ice.  When it started cracking we crawled back to shore!  Completely mad as if it had broken we would all have been dead.


The Saturday night dancing at the Lido did not continue once the war started. As I recall  they were held as part of the programme of a club. We had neighbours who joined. 


 I used to belong to Hillingdon Athletic Club and we would run our little hearts out around the lido and through Park Woods, over Haste Hill and back again.  I learned to water ski there.   When I was a teenager I would meet friends over there and try to get a suntan, I was never successful on the suntan.  I wouldn't say that the Lido was ever pristine but I used to swim there.  (obviously, as I fell off the skis a number of times!)  My favourite part of the whole Lido excursion was the walk through the woods to get there and the anticipation of reaching my destination.  I remember paying to get in at the back entrance, really the only entrance that I ever used.  It wasn't expensive and I don't remember caring about paying.  Apparently the funds collected were not used on keeping the Lido clean. 

I only remember a couple of times that the weather was actually hot and we would all escape the heat and sunlight by heading back into the woods.  I do remember riding on the train once when I was about 10, and we also rented a rowing boat once.  There was a small enclosure for the little boats that one had to pedal (paddle? ed) that I remember as well. 


 I think the definitive film that was shot at Ruislip Lido was "TheYoung Ones" (Cliff Richard).
3 films for which I am not completely certain were:- 
1) One of the earlier Titanic films, possibly "A Night to Remember" with Kenneth More.
2) Sink the Bismarck
3) The Cruel Sea.
Incidentally, during my very last school summer holiday (1968), I worked for an Engineering company in Uxbridge (J.R. Parsons Ltd.). One of the jobs I had, was to sweep up the oil sodden sawdust and dump it out the back of the factory. I also had to level off this dump. In doing this , I unearthed 3 large scale models of 2 warships and passenger liner (about 3 - 4 ft in length). I was told by the bosses son, who was more or less running the place, that his old man had bought them from Pinewood Studios and that they were models of the Bismarck, HMS Hood and the M.S. Titanic. The old man had apparently lost interest in them and just dumped them on this tip.
Although I lived in Hayes in the '50's and '60's, my parents would regularly take us and sometimes our friends to the Lido, what seemed like every weekend during the summer plus quite a few days of the summer holidays. We never had a car, so we went by bus (sometimes 2 buses). The 198 (158? ed) and 98B and 98A spring to mind. Over the years, what was a familiar journey varied a few times, when the buses were rerouted. e.g.. when they 1st made a detour off Long Lane and coming down Windsor Avenue. I believe the route originally went down Kings End (where we usually changed buses outside Quilters) and later changed for a long time down Church Avenue and Manor Road. One of the landmarks on the route was Butter Bros.? cranes.

When we arrived there were usually queues (there were 2 turnstiles and ticket offices). The ticket were of the old cinema type. There were also full height turnstiles' by the boat house and also by the railway (exit only). We always used to go to the beach side after first going on the paddle boats and nearly always on the sand level to where the slides were. We used to build mammoth sand-castles, always with a moat and always with a tunnel going right through the middle, which we filled with water. The sand was black if you dug more than one and a half feet (and contained what looked like coal). The water had a rope barrier about 30 feet from the shore about waist height on my dad. Invariably we used to go past the rope, once we could swim. It's more or less here where I learned to swim. Although for ages I kidded my dad I could swim, by doing the crawl where my hands could touch the bottom and I was literally pulling myself along the bottom.

My mum always used to bring a choice of fillings plus a jar which she put butter in and on the way to the Lido, she would buy fresh bridge rolls and she would actually make our lunch on the sand, with tea from the kiosk (more or less where it is now - possibly the same building). Occasionally, our uncle took us by car, in which case you could drive in and park on the grass and have full blown picnics. The day would nearly always end with a trip on the railway (just a round trip in the woods). As we were worn out at the end of the day (after all we used be there from 9.00am till 6.00 pm) and never fancied that long walk back, we always begged our dad to get the boat back (a motor launch) from a jetty just past the start of the beach to near the main building (ridiculous now as it probably only saved about one third of the trip back). Occasionally he would agree to this extravagance.  


Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday was filmed on the sandy side of the Lido and my sister Pat Honour and her friend Linda Mash were amongst those who appeared as 'extras' in the film.  They came from the Gardens (Ruislip Gardens Estate for those not in the know!)


I remember going on the bus to the Lido as a kid. My parents couldn’t drive so we didn’t have a car. I remember playing in the sand and the miniature railway. There used to be boats and the pavilion where you could get ice cream and teas etc. It used to be a great treat to spend the day there and have a picnic. It seemed that the sun always shone in the holidays. One legend about Mad Bess woods my late father used to tell me (not sure if he made it up) was about Naked Norman. Apparently he is supposed to run naked through the woods and some sighting of him was reported.


My memories of the Lido go back to the mid 40,s when I lived in Acton. We used to go to the Lido on a 211 bus from Ealing Broadway. I don't know why, but I believe there was an admission charge in those days. I saw two films being made there - one was on the Titanic,  and the other was Summer Holiday with Cliff Richard.  In April 1964 I held my wedding reception in the main building, I remember it was snowing a little, but water skiers were still out. I also remember one day there that one person drowned over at the beach side, and another young person drowned after jumping off the pier (for the rowing boats) at the entrance side. His uncle who had taken him was as you can imagine very distressed. 

I also recall seeing the first person to water-ski without skis showing off at the Lido, I believe in the early 60's. 

I might also add that the car parks were popular with courting couples, although the police seemed to enjoy checking out what was happening in the cars. In those days it meant court (caught - ed?) for some people! 


My mother worked at the Lido, from after the war until we left the Manor. She was the cook for the Rotary club that met every Tuesday and she catered for all the parties, weddings etc. that went on. I have also got Cliff Richards autograph, he made part of Summer Holiday there, also Donald Cambell and I remember them making the film A Night To Remember about the Titanic.  

My memories of the 50,s and 60's are that as kids my sister and I were always warned to keep away as it was unclean! This was probably a legacy of the polio (infantile paralysis as it was called then) scares. The sand was considered dirty as it never got washed! 
What I do remember is that my school pal Robert's Dad worked for several years late fifties and early sixties as the driver of the miniature train that ran through the woods. His name was Frank Pegler and he was affectionately known as Popeye the sailor man whom he resembled! 

I also remember hanging around myself during the making of the Film "The Young Ones starring Cliff Richard about 58? 

 I used to go there most weekends during the fishing season from about 10 years old to 15 when the family moved to Northamptonshire. I used to fish with a friend who lived along the road by the Lido, The best spots were the corner by the big double gates or the water ski jetty where the  large roach, bream and perch used to get. Pike were fished for on the other side where there was more weed.  The song "The Young Ones" was filmed from the big double gates to the children's area round the far side. When it was all over Cliff got mobbed by all the kids around at the time. 

I haven't been there since the late 70's when I was visiting my Uncle and it still looked the same then. I hope it's still open and that it still provides some wonderful times and memories for new generations as it was the focal point to many teenagers growing up in the sixties and early seventies.


I was born in 1976 and have early memories of wonderful days at the lido.  We used to spend whole days there and never get bored, but also we used to often go on summer evenings when I think we used to be able to get in free. Visiting now, as I did just yesterday, brings back great memories but in contrast to many contributors I do not feel sad about the differences.  It is one of those things.  I am pleased to see that so many people still use it (it was packed yesterday), that the railway thrives, that there is an excellent park with fun swings, slides and climbing frames etc., and that the Waters Edge is there.  I feel that there is still something for everyone and every time I revisit the area I include a trip to the lido. 


Footnote:- - As it's as it's name suggest an archive of British Pathe News (with a search function). If you search for Ruislip you will get 29 hits. When you click on the link it will load individual frames plus a resumé of the camera shots. At the bottom of the page is a dropdown box "FREE PREVIEW". Click Download now. This takes you to the next screen. This just lists what you have ordered. Click back button on browser and select your next choice. Repeat until all your selections have been made. When you have made your final selection click proceed and enter all your details. You are presented with a list of all  your files. Click on each to run. I've only run one so far and it is a brilliant three minute clip of Ruislip Lido from the '50's. There are many clips from the "Lido". Also there is a clip a factory in Ruislip making gold leaf (could this be Glacier Metals?). Philip

I remember skating and playing ice hockey on the Lido in the late '50s early '60s, during that very cold winter anyway. I was about 10 or 11 and going to Lady Bankes school.
My other biding memory was the donkeys! I remember leading one round the paddock hour after hour always with 'some other kid' on it's back just so I could ride it back to the stable that evening - and the damn thing trod on me! But that short ride round to the stable behind the boathouse made it all worth while.
Philip A

Ruislip Lido was brilliant when I was growing up. A proper beach just like at the seaside with sand where you could paddle. Not like Burnham Beeches which I was always really disappointed to find out was just a load of trees! The swimming pool bit at the lido was fantastic as it had the platform you could swim out to and climb on to. I remember the first time I walked all the way around the lido it was the furthest I'd ever walked.

Back in the 60's we used to go to the Lido after it had closed , climb the fence and go "skinny dipping". It was just perfect on a hot summers night.

I remember learning to swim at the Ruislip Resevoir/Lido, that was in the pre-war days and we had to keep our mouths firmly closed or we would get a mouthful of tiddlers.


Its sad to see the Lido as it is today. I was born in 1952 and lived in Ducks Hill Road, my mother still lives there. In the summer the cars were parked right the way up Ducks Hill and the buses were packed, you could not get on them. The Lido was full .As children we played at the lido all the time and helped with the donkey rides. The fair would come on the common every summer. I also remember Naked Norman and saw him once, frightened me to death. I remember the Smiths and the Newsteads and Mrs. Murphy, Mr. Murphy worked at the Lido. You could get in free if you turned the turnstile till it clicked then turned it back again. I and my three sisters had our wedding reception at the Lido. They were really the good old days.

From October, 1954 until June, 1957, my American family lived in No. 15 Pembroke Road, round the corner from Ruislip High Street and across the street from Ruislip bus terminal and tube station.  My father was an officer commanding a USAF military intelligence contingent at RAF High Wycombe, while I was eleven, twelve and thirteen. 

I have such fond memories of life in Ruislip.  My younger brother and I made advantage of the bus and tube stations’ convenience to our house and traveled widely, but especially many times to Ruislip Lido.  Weather permitting, on most weekends we rode the 158 bus to the Lido – the end of the 158 line, as I recall – and then set forth into the forest to make camp.  We were American Boy Scouts.

On school mornings, I rode a USAF contract coach forty-five minutes from Ruislip to attend the American school at RAF Bushy Park.  I fondly remember the many times I waited for my school bus at the green grocer, near the corner of High Street and Pembroke Road.  The grocer was a happy, friendly man, who sold me a bag of black cherries with a big smile for a few pence, and let me wait under his awning in the rain or cold.  Nearly fifty years later, I haven’t forgotten his kindness…or those wonderful cherries.  When my school bus returned in the afternoon, school mates and I frequently bought fish and chips at a small High Street shop near the cinema.  To this day I love English fish and chips.

In those days, gasoline became rationed severely due to the Suez crisis, and I remember our family curtailing travel in the family car.  My brother and I didn’t care, though, since we relied on bus, tube or bicycle.  Our bicycle trips ranged from Ruislip Lido to South Ruislip to Eastcote to Denham.  The 158 bus was our main bus, since it went by the US Air Base in South Ruislip – a frequent trip for us – as well as Ruislip Lido in the opposite direction. 

The tube gave us maximum range, of course.  At one time or another, by way of the tube, we two young, naïve American boys were captivated much more than once by the following:  Windsor, Runnymede, Hampton Court, the British Museum, the War Museum, Westminster Abbey (where we laid a commemorative wreath at Lord Baden Powell’s grave on behalf of all American Boy Scouts), the Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park, Battersea Park, theatre matinees in the West End, the Warner Brothers cinema in Piccadilly, the Farnborough Air Show, Oxford and Cambridge…the list seems endless.  Suffice it said – we took advantage of our mobility in England, and I came away a changed boy, with love for England to this day.

I have especially happy, enduring memories of our many weekends spent camping at Ruislip Lido.  We never thought to ask whether we were allowed to camp there; without objection we just did!  Even more, I loved my years living in Ruislip.  Surely it remains the same charming spot of civility I remember.


My one memory of the lido was taking part in the 1963 speedboat manufactures trials. I was co pilot for Ken Stephenson, who subsequently won the event in an X craft (The fastest class of boat at the time). I had to be lifted out of the boat at the end of the three hour race because I was frozen in the sitting position after being buffeted in that position for so long.


My parents and I moved to 16 Lynmouth Drive Ruislip Manor in 1936.  I left in 1960 to go and live in Guernsey. (as did Jean - wonder if you are still here).   My memories of the area are numerous, much as other contributors, Naked Norman included.  We encountered him in Copse wood while collecting Bluebells.  I remember many people doing the same in all three woods, riding away on bikes with saddlebags bulging.  From Ruislip Manor I either walked through Park Wood or took the 158 bus.  Until 1939 it was possible to ride on the 223 bus which started at the junction of Victoria and Torcross Roads.  During the early part of the war there was netting placed across the Lido, rumour had it that it was to mimic the runway layout at Northolt, can anyone confirm this?  

I remember the Donkey Rides and the railway.  It was great in 1999 to see the Donkey Rides 6d sign in the Beefeater.  There was a broad walkway at the head of the reservoir with a long pergola covered with roses and vines.  Copse Wood and the common were the places to look for shrapnel during the war.  Two airliners collided over this wood in the 1950's.  I saw Donald and Malcolm Campbell there and enjoyed hydroplane racing and water skiing events.
The friends I went to the Lido with were Brian Carter, Derek Graydon, Brian Burgess and Audrey Golly.

In the 60's we made many trips to Ruislip Lido from our home in Eastcote. I learned to swim off the sandy beach I recognized from your photos. I caught Silver Bream and other fish, though never one of the pike which were known to inhabit the Lido. I remember filling a paper carrier bag (no plastic ones in those days) with smelly fungi from the woods for a school project (including a stink horn - must have been popular on the bus home!). The Lido made for a great day out - plenty for kids to do, and I can still smell the smoke of the train as it chugged around the woods.

Finding this website was a real joy for me, having spent almost all of my spare time in my youth, visiting the Lido, from 1961 (as a baby, with my mother and father) up until this day. I'm not the frequent visitor that I once was, due mainly to the fact that I now live on Portland in Dorset.

As I sit here and write, I can still feel the hot summer sunshine and the sights and smells of the place, when it was in the height of its popularity. I vividly remember the sound of the speedboat towing the water-skiers, the children’s voices around the pool and sand areas and the train rattling along through the wooded area.

I did just about everything there, fishing, catching frogs, toads, and the occasional grass snake, swimming, walking and golf practice! I sometimes used to visit the lido on an icy foggy night, just for the atmosphere! Try explaining that one to the police when you’re stopped at 1.00am in the morning (walking) on your way home to South Harrow.

 I know that many people consider the railway extension to have been a good thing, and from a fun point of view it was, but for me it was like building a motorway right through some of the most quiet, peaceful, wildlife habitat we had in that area.  Just me I suppose!
A few films have been mentioned, that have been filmed here.  One that I don't think has, was, “The Bulldog Breed”, with Norman Wisdom. The scene I am referring to is; where Norman tries to commit suicide, by throwing an anchor off a pier, attached to his foot. 

Unfortunately it lands in the back of a passing speedboat, going through the boat, and towing him around, with himself, boat and driver sinking in the harbour. (This was filmed in Portland Harbour). He then resurfaces (with the hapless driver) in Ruislip Lido (good trick eh!)
I really do miss those days, but recent visits just serve to remind me, that this is now a very different place to what it once was. Although I must say its very peaceful there!  

Paul Rumble

Greatest memory for me of the lido was the summers of 1961/1962 when I "worked" on the little ferry that went on probably the shortest route from one side of the lido to the other. I was 12/13 at the time and was the boy that sat on the bow on each crossing. My job was to jump off on landing with the bow rope in my hand to tie off at the pier, then to tie the stern off so people could safely alight Two fantastic summers I will never forget... I wonder where Peter D Slade [the captain] is now?  


Every Summer during the 70’s my mum would take me and my sister off to Ruislip Lido, and if we were lucky, we were able to bring a few friends as well. Although the landscape is similar, some of the facilities are quite different now. I remember the paddle boats which were always a treat and once aboard my boat, I would always be hoping your number wouldn’t be called up yet to return.

There used to be two separate entrances, both off of the main road, and with big iron turnstiles. The best area for me was the grass bank where everyone would picnic. This was in front of the swimming area and the Jetty. The Jetty was great to swim up to and the good swimmers would climb onto it and show off to the weaker swimmers. I remember the café which was by the grass bank, it was painted white and had glass doors. Ice Cream was always mandatory from the café on our visits. It would come in those blocks with paper wrapped around, and the cone would have a rectangular top end to drop the ice cream block into.  

I remember watching the water-skiing and imagining myself going over the jump. A real feature of the Lido was the big triangular water-ski jump pointing out of the water and towards the sky.  

For the record, my Grandad worked for British Waterways and was involved in the creation of the beach part of the lido and loading all the sand.

Mark Walsh

I used to play at Ruislip Lido in the years 1938 to 1945. I lived at 10 Lawn Close. Near the Bell Pub on West End Road.  A group of my friends and I would hike up to the Lido and hike the bush areas around it.  It w as very primitive in those days but I spent many a day around the Lido.. We left for Canada in 1947 and I have never been back but would like to see it all again. It sure has changed by the look of the pictures.  

John Tyler

I remember walking round the Lido about 10 times (I think the circuit was 2 miles so 20 miles in total) for a sponsored walk for Help the Aged. I was in the brownies when I did it and I didn't want to go on my own, even though loads of people were doing it, so my Dad did it with me. It must have been in the early 70's probably about 1972


Ruislip Lido in the 60's and 70's

Born at Hillingdon Hospital in February 1943, I lived at 40 Dartmouth Road until we were bombed (I believe by a doodlebug) later that year. After a period of wandering around the country as refugees we returned to a temporary home at 2 Windermere Ave , Eastcote. 40 Dartmouth was rebuilt and we returned C1947 where I lived until I married in 1964. My parents left the address about 1966.  

The Lido and the surrounding woods and fields hold many happy memories. It was here that I learned to recognise and identify the local bird life both by sight and song. Like other correspondents I usually managed to find my way into the Lido by means other than the official turnstiles. My parents would have killed me if they had known I was that far from home (I think was 8 or 9 when I first started visiting on my own!) and would have been even more upset if they knew I was avoiding paying my dues to the parky.

On warm days during the school holidays my mother would pack up a few sandwiches and drinks, we would walk through the woods and spend long idyllic days on the beach. I seem to recall that the sand was too coarse to make proper sandcastles and left a yellow stain on clothes and skin. If you dug too deep (about 18 inches) you hit the layer of blue clay that kept the reservoir waterproof!

Does anyone else remember when Donald Campbell brought his Bluebird to the Lido ? This would have been in the late 50 s I think. Although he could not get the thing out of first gear, it certainly was a spectacular sight.

Yes, these really are pictures of Bluebird on Ruislip Lido. I doubted them at first, here is what I was told. (ROL) The pictures of Bluebird were taken by me. (My father was a keen photographer and gave me my first camera when I was about 6 years old - a box Kodak Brownie of about 1940 vintage!) The pictures were taken from the east shore (Park Wood side) of the Lido , probably about half way along; certainly beyond the beach area. In "Bluebird 1", if you look carefully just above the boats rear fin, you can make out the old pavilion behind the marquees that were erected for the occasion. I have attached a third picture, "Bluebird 3", which really only shows the spray sent up when the throttles were opened a fraction, but again the old pavilion can just be made out on the left hand edge of the picture. I have enhanced the pictures as much as possible using Photoshop to bring out as much detail as possible but as the originals are about 50 years old we cannot expect miracles.
Donald Campbell's Bluebird On Ruislip Lido

There are more images of Blue Bird on Ruislip Lido in the Main Gallery

I also recall in the mid 50 s, again after having got in by the backdoor, seeing Yana (or was it Sabrina?) at the Lido . Anyway, it was one of those busty blonde TV game-show hostesses. I can't remember why she was there, all I can remember is thinking (as teenage lads do) how smashing she was!!
Happy days!


My memories of Ruislip Lido are misty but I do remember being taken around by one of my neighbours in Deane Ave who was quite high on the management ladder I believe. His name was Mr Ablett I think. I was only about 8 or 10 at the time. I think this was before it re-opened after being shut down for some time. (late 40's to early 50's I think).

The other thing I remember is that they used the Lido for a scene in a war movie. (Above Us The Waves, or Cockleshell Hero's or the like) Not sure but I think Jack Hawkins was in it. They used large fans to stir the water up into waves so that it looked like a rough sea.  


I can remember going to dances at the Ruislip Lido before I went to Canada in l956.   Some close friends of mine names Findlay were members.   Leonard Findlay was the Commodore for quite some time and I think one of his sons Paul also was a Commodore up until the time he married.

They were quite lively dances with a bar and live band and good refreshments. 


Further to Andy's comments, in the mid-1950s my elder brother and I were at the Lido (always pronounced 'L(eye)do' in our family) during a big event, when the model/starlet Sabrina (a Jayne Mansfield look-alike - wonder what was her real name?) was in attendance. She was celebrity judge at a beauty contest, just one of the day's attractions. The organisers had set up a board on a stage with the profile of Sabrina cut out of it. Aspiring beauties had to stand in the cut-out and were judged according to how closely they fitted!! When the time came for Sabrina to depart, she was driven off down a cinder track in a huge, pink, open-topped American car. My brother, amongst others, chased after it as it moved slowly away and jumped onto the back bumper. Such enthusiasm! And, as you can see, it's the only one of the day's attractions I can still remember!!

Going to the Lido was a great trip out back then (1950s) - sand to play on, ice-creams, train rides... We went in at the main entrance and the place seemed huge. Walked round to the right, passing the rowing boats and then, on the far side, eventually reached woods of silver birch where the little railway ran. I don't think you could get all the way round, and somewhere up the far end was where the swans nested in among the reeds. My mother warned me to stay away with that story about them being able to break a man's arm with a wing beat.
I was always fascinated by the water-ski jump that was moored in the middle of the lake, rising up steeply like the roof of our house in Rosebury Vale.
So happy days at Ruislip Lido. I've never been back but I'd like to think it was still giving people pleasure today.


I remember the Lido in the fifties and sixties as being like a seaside resort.  There were organised activities albeit they were quite simple events, steam train rides, ice creams, donkey rides and more. I used to go there with my father and brother (occasionally my mother would come too) for the day.  I always took my fishing rod and on rare occasions caught a few small fish.   My abiding memory of the lido was the residential black tom cat.  He was gorgeous, beautiful and huge ; everyone used to stroke him or if they were strong enough, pick him up for a hug.  Dogs gave him a wide birth..  All the fishermen used to give him their catch and he devoured them with relish.  He was always on the bank near the boat sheds near where the rowing boats were moored. 

My other memories were running around the lake. I belonged to Ruislip and Northwood Athletic Club, just at the back of the woods in Coronation Road.  Sadly and just like the Lido, the athletic club is derelict and the track overgrown.  Finally, the Lido was superb for courting in the 60's.  The people today are so different to those of that long lost age and I suppose, the Lido has had it's day.  

Dick (living at Northolt in the prefabs then)

I saw the names Clayton and Snelling in the memories section and immediately went back 50 - 60 years when my late father (John Backhouse) worked at the Lido for the Canal Company.  Other names from that period include John Miller (General Manager), Cyril Saywood (Regional Manager) and his secretary Maisie Matthews (still with us though in a nursing home), father's secretary Gwen Hill, Arthur Brawn (Finance), ? Goddard (personnel).

I attach some scans of photos and a brochure I have which I would like to relocate in somewhere more deserving than my attic. I was always told that my Mother thought up the Woody Bay name for the station but that may only be legend!
As now a forty old man who walks these woods every other day and lido I think  it is better today then in the seventies. Yes swimming has gone but to be honest their are not many out door places to swim now in the summer because of algea bloom. I might add the fishing is excellent but even in the old days it was a hard place too fish. With every thing like swimming, water skiing gone the lido is rich in wildlife.  In October I filmed muntjac deer, teal, pochard, shoveller, ruddyduck, fieldfare, redwing, fox, Canada goose, kingfisher x 3. The animals and birds I have missed are buzzard, sparrow hawk, roe deer. I am still filming and as you can see you can not visit many places in London and see this amount of wildlife. So in one respect we lose some things but we have certainly now got a good place for wildlife now. I have seen deer in the lido itself, and have witnessed people going past with out seeing them so my advice to people is keep your eyes open you never know what you might see.


The Lido froze to a depth of about 700 mm in the winter of either 1951/2 or 1952/3, I would have been 13 or 14 years old.
The council had a bore taken and declared it to be safe to walk on or do anything you wanted on the ice.

Naturally an admission charge was made, and people came for miles, I was a keen skater (usually going to Wembley Rink) and for me this was fantastic, although later the surface ice became so dirty that it wore the edge off my skates and they had to be reground.

Other people made slides, had picnics and walked their dogs, there was an atmosphere of excitement everywhere. Does anyone remember these days?

John Brindle

I used to go there in its heyday and had my first experience of riding on a donkey there - donkey rides being a popular feature.  The man would line the donkey up in between two sets of steps or ladders or something so that us kids (or adults) could climb sedately up on to the animal and then climb sedately down, after the ride - no bucking broncos for us typically suburban families.

Heather Tyrrell

My wife and I now live in Fremantle W.Australia but we have fond memories of the Lido, as we only lived around the corner in Bury Street. We were both saddened by the greed of the local council who caused the demise of a great attraction. Who does not know of its feature in one of the Cliff Richard films. Get out the video, and see what it was like in its heyday. Perhaps a highlight on this website could be arranged. We can both remember when there was a managerie which included small monkeys around by the beach area. Can any body else remember that? (ROL would comment that nobody seems to remember this, do you?)

John & Iris Russell 

I see many references to fishing at the Lido. Indeed, this is where I caught my very first fish, ever! I was about 10 at the time, way back in the early 50's. I was so thrilled and hurriedly dropped it in my little sack, and off home I went. I lived in South Ruislip so had a fair bus ride. About half way home, the sack started jumping around. Obviously the fish had regained consciousness or something! I found that the metal hand rail on the seat in front of me was the only way to control this disconcerting activity. As you can imagine, I receive many strange disapproving looks from the other passengers.
Arriving home, I proudly laid my trophy out on the counter in the conservatory at the back of the house, and patiently waited for my fathers return from work. Upon his arrival, I ushered him hurriedly through the house to show him my prize.......... All that remained were one or two bones and a bit of fin, and our cat with a smile on its face! Well, we loved the cat .... but only just enough to spare him one of his nine lives! I never fished at the Lido again after that! 
Robert D

I remember watching Donald Campbell's Bluebird at Ruislip in the late 1950's!  We lived in South Harrow at the time, and my dad took me there - I remember the crowds more than anything - but also Bluebird skimming across the water at incredible speed!

I remember been taken by my Mother along with my five younger brothers and sisters to the lido in the summer holidays in the sixties. Taking all we needed on a double-decker bus and then on arrival a ferry across to the beach side. But for some reason we would walk back past the fishing. As we became teenagers and went with our friends we preferred the swimming pool side where you could swim out to the raft where the life guards sat. We sat on the grass in front of the cafe and the outdoor changing rooms.
The paddle boats were a favourite before we tried rowing around the lake. Cliff being there for filming summer holiday made it more special for teenage girls. I remember the cafe, beach hut for ice creams and rides on the train. I then returned with my three children when they were small to the beach and they tried water skiing in the summer holidays and all learnt to row there. Its a shame it is no longer used for swimming.
My mother remembers my brother thought the tide was coming in, she didn't tell him it was the wash from the ski boats, till he was much older.  
The car park in the wood by the lake was a romantic meeting place for couples and where I first let my children have a go at driving!
Very happy memories spanning generations, shame its no longer the same.


Hi. Back in the mid eighties my brother and i would often visit the "lido" in winter, travelling by bus with all our fishing gear.
We would hire a small rowing boat for about a £1 and spend all day fishing for pike, and we caught some great fish, the biggest being about 10lb in weight.
Reading your website and seeing the boats have gone is something of a shock to me, we had some great times there.
It is great to see your site and brought back some fond memories.


I grew up in the 1960`s in Greenford Middlesex but then around 1973 we moved to Shepherds Bush London W12 Despite being further away geographically we still made long sojourns out to the Lido in the late 1970`s It was a mammoth bus ride with two changes to get from W12 out to farthest reaches of Middlesex eventually arriving there on a LT number E2 I can remember being there in the long hot summer of 1976 where the Mr Softee ice cream van parked outside on the concourse served a queue a quarter of a mile long at least the heat really was blistering and the grass around the Lidos edge was scorched browner than a British Leyland Austin Allegro at that point I also remember being there in 1977 the day Elvis Presley died lots of those "Tinny" Jap transistor radio's blaring out Elvis DJ Tribute tracks all day long around the lidos edge also remember some younger kids on skateboards trying to get long straight runs on increasingly crowded footpaths!

Funny thing I was watching a Dave Allen sketch series on BBC1 recently and one sketch shows Dave himself trying to retrieve a £10 note from under the front left wheel of a hideously bright orange coloured VW Beetle but what was of interest? It must of been filmed around 1975/1976 because clearly in the background is the Punch and Judy Cafe and the Lido garage which were both seated at the entrance road to the Ruislip lido at that time its a brief snippet but its a memory stirring one all the same.


I was at the lido on the beach when Donald Campbell demonstrated the jet powered Bluebird.  He gave a running commentary on his RT that was relayed over Tannoys around the lake.  He only touched the accelerator but had to back off before he went aground at the end of the lake.  The noise and spray were impressive.  It must have been some time after 1955 when the boat was designed.  John van Eerde
Childhood memories: - When I was a kid back in the mid seventies me and my mates used to skive off from school ( Manor Secondary) and go hang around at the Lido getting up to mischief. On hot days you could paddle in the water and on wet days we used to loaf about in the shelter down by the swings smoking. I fished there, played there, rode my bike there and  on one memorable occasion snogged a girl called Lorraine there!
I saw its heyday and I've seen its sad demise. When my kids were growing up they in turn enjoyed walking round it on sunny Sundays and playing on the sands and swings. We have moved away now but I still try to walk round when I'm back in the area visiting and the memories come flooding back. I wonder where Lorraine is these days?  

John Harrison 

Happening on this webpage brought back many memories of Lido afternoons in the 1950's. My parents moved to the Broadwalk in Northwood in 1954 so we children often walked through Copse Wood and over the Common to the Lido, it was a regular excursion and I remember our mother giving us a picnic of orange juice and jam sandwiches. Simple days!
Jayne mentioned Naked Norman: I remember him too, we kids thought it was a terrific joke to catch a glimpse of him in the altogether through the trees; my mother, who only found out about him decades later, was predictably hysterical but it was a more innocent age and I still believe he was harmless.
Thanks to all those who've put this great page together. It has been wonderful to read it

I well remember Ruislip Lido... taken there first as a young lass from Wembley and then around my late teens with friends.  If I remember correctly, it was a base for American G.I.'s and us girls were in our glory in the 1953-56 period... trying our darndest to get picked up by gum chewing, good looking U.S. boys, who always seemed to have NYLONS... a girl's dream come true.
Those were the "good old days" when, just after the war, we had fun, doing everything with a lot less than this generation seems to have.
Used to have an American living on our street, Riverside Gardens, and he and his wife were the first to take my sister and I there.  Apart from going to Clacton by the Sea, this was the nearest thing to a beach we had anywhere close to Wembley.
I am now living in Canada (since 1959) and am retired and enjoying life... I would like (sometimes) to revisit the "good old days"
Marie Grace Emmel
(Nee Watson)

My name is Bob Randall. My family home was in South Drive, parallel with the High Street, where we lived from Christmas 1949. I was a frequent visitor to the Lido, belonging to the sailing club from about 1954. The RSC started with Heron dinghies, one of which was No 13, the club boat. This was available to junior non-boat owning members. The sailing was most competitive and the club well supported. The weekend was divided between the sailing club and the water-skiers -- to try to keep both parties happy. My regular skipper was Andy Salanson. Another Ruislip sailing mate of mine was David Moore. We were in the same class at Bishopshalt, and my wife and I stayed
with him in new Zealand 2 years ago. We often did a dog walk from Ruislip to the Lido, through the woods. Sometimes taking the 158 bus back home.

One of the contributors mentions "netting" over part of the Lido in the war. My understanding was that the triangular plan of the flooded valley when viewed from the air, pointed to the Command Headquarters in Northwood. Somebody realised that this was aiding the Germans bombing runs on the HQ. Pontoons and netting were rigged on the east side/north end of the Lido to "point" into Haste Hill. That may explain why there were so many bomb craters in that area.

I remember Donald Campbell and Bluebird running at the Lido. Billy Butlin was there, I believe as organiser of the event.

I am pleased to have had many years of sailing, rowing and walking at the Lido.

Rab Randall

I lived in Ruislip Gardens 1950 until 1965,my parents left in 1980 but still have ties with the town. I really enjoyed the photos, ashamed to say I didn't recognize many of them! The Lido was a big family favourite, a healthy walk around the Lido" was my Dad's answer to everything!!! We went there in all weathers, had to ride our bikes in early years as there was no family car until I went to middle school (Manor Sec) Later caught the bus but had to change at Ruislip except on Sunday when there was a direct connection, but only in the summer!

 I now live in Florida but my family are all in U.K.

Gillian Grove(nee Hicks)

During the 1950s I spent many happy hours at the Lido, swimming and watching the water skiing. There were also some exhibitions of synchronised swimming at the Lido but I'm not sure who was responsible for these. I also remember watching skating so could this have been the winter of 1962/63?
Yvonne Watson

I can remember back in  the early 60s I used to help out on the ferry that took passengers from the main side of the Lido to the beach side 3d in the old money one way, I did it for nothing, just for the fun of going back and forth on the boat.
There was a life guard that worked at the Lido called Freddie he used to row his boat on what we used to call the concrete side of the Lido.
Then there was the big freeze when the Lido froze completely over, even a Land-Rover went on the lake towing people behind on skates.
Dave White

I remember very vividly the extremely cold and icy winter of 1962/63. I was 11 and we were living in Ladygate Lane at the time, there are photos of me with a toboggan pulling my little brother around the streets. We spent a lot of time in the Pinn fields sliding down the slopes there I recall. But what I remember most is a trip to the Lido which was completely frozen over.
Apart from the skaters what impressed me the most was a Landrover had been driven out onto the ice and the barbecues being held on the ice - I couldn't understand why the heat from the fires didn't melt the ice (still don't actually) and fall into the Lido!

Penny King

I was one of the English kids that use to ride by the base when I was 12 to 16 year’s old looking from outside the fence and little did I know at that time I would later be looking from the other side of the fence.

I went to the states in Dec 1950 joined the USAF did my training at F E Warren AFB etc and in 1953 I was station to Ruislip AF Base, stayed for a very short period and then went to good old Sidi Slimane AF Base in French Morocco. I then returned to Ruislip AF Base in 1954 assigned to AACS Sq and worked in the Communications Centre in the building with the NCO club.

It was very interesting in that all of my buddies married girls from UK and I married my American pen pal back in the States (we have five children plus 12 grandchildren).

I was born in Hanwell and lived in Harrow until I was 18 year’s old so I could not have been stationed any closer to my home and while stationed at Ruislip I lived with my parents.

Very good memories of my day’s at Ruislip looking from the other side of the fence.

Walter A Mackinem

My brother recalls part of the film Oh What a Whopper was filmed at the Lido around "the sands" area. Terence Longdon was in it and Adam Faith.     They raced across the sands pointing to what I presume was a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.   
My brother and I have lots of happy memories of Ruislip Lido. We lived in Ruislip during the 1940s and early 50s. As soon as we were old enough to go out by ourselves we would walk the three miles or so - unaccompanied by any adult - to the Lido and its adjoining woods, where we played safely. We remember the little railway, donkey rides (ponies were too expensive and they just galloped quickly round the ring), and the sight of a girl who had cut her foot on broken glass in the water.

Does anyone know anything about the photograph of the man, woman and boy in the boat on the Lido? She looks remarkably like our mother (who is no longer alive to confirm it) but it might just be the hairstyle that was popular at that time.
Gordon Gibson and Moira O'Brien (nee Gibson).

In reply to Gordon Gibson and Moira O Brian the photo of man a woman in boat is My Mother and father. Irene and Tom Backhouse. The boy could be my brother Norman or my cousin John or David. My Father's brother jack gained an MBE for work connected with the Lido and had something to do with the train being brought

Jean Welch nee Backhouse

I remember the Lido through the 1970's as we would go swimming there.  I remember that you could walk from the grassy bit outside the cafe building into the water down a concreted floor section until it stopped and you suddenly dropped to the softer sand.  There used to be a floating pontoon a little bit out into the water which we would swim to and dive from.  I loved the place, although the cafe was totally awash with wasps... I was amazed the place was allowed to fall into disarray.  My last visit there was in the early 1990s when there was some event on there and as a member of the local TA unit we put a stand up to advertise ourselves.  We were tasked with walking around the sandy bit in full uniform to chat with people...

My name is Gordon Langston. In the late 50s and early 60s I used to go  to the lido. I was 7-10 yrs old I used to fish and swim I have fond memories of it seeing the land rover fall through the ice when testing for skating, Cliff Richard on the beach in the film Summer Holiday, the floating boat to swim to, the row boats to go out in, the kids paddle boats. the skiing man with a kite, (I went swimming with his children) coming out through the turnstile when it was closed (always frightened about getting stuck in it ), pike fishing of the pier and the train.
It used to cost me tuppence on the bus. I think it was the 158 from Eastcote it went past where I lived in S Harrow.


I lived in Ruislip Gardens all through the 50s and can remember such good days at the Lido during the school holidays. I saw the making of the Titanic, and the film Summer Holiday. The main job for us boys then was to collect the empty Coke and Pepsi bottles off the Yanks who were stationed at South and West Ruislip, I seem to remember making as much as ten bob on some weekends, to us that was a fortune.Also on one occasion Donald Campbell, and his boat Bluebird were there, and the pin up of the day Sabrina, to add a bit of glamour.

I’ve seen body’s pulled out of the water, the first aid hut kept busy with people coming out of the water with cut feet from broken glass or a fish hook stuck in their foot, and nether put us lads off!


I have some happy memories of The Lido from The 70s, when myself & friends used to fish it when teenagers. We used to camp out at the 'top' end- i.e. the northern, shallow bit, away from the main entrance-, & fish through from early evening to early morning. (I'm not sure this was actually allowed, but...) We never caught much, really- just small roach, bream, perch & the occasional tench-, but it was a lot of fun, of course. On the other hand, a bloke caught a 22lb pike back in February this year, I believe! A 35lber came out back in about 1910, too. It was a shame that half of it dried up back in the late 80s/90s (?), & the water is far from clean now. I think this is as a result of stagnancy- no flow in or out, blanket weed, silt etc-, & perhaps something could be done on this. The Lido in Venice- whence, its name!- is a bathing resort, but our Ruislip version has 'Do not enter the water' signs & the possibility of Weil's Disease... Unfortunately, too, I do not find The Water's Edge pub much to my taste, this is another shame, as the location is pretty stunning with its views, wildfowl & general picturesqueness. A good pub instead of a mediocre one would improve The Lido's appeal. Still, you can't have everything, & The Lido is on the whole a place to be thankful for!

L Barron

Had many a good time at the Lido when I was little...we used to walk through the woods from Salisbury Lane I vaguely remember the woods opening out into something I thought was magical...there were even water-skiers....I had a red seersucker swimsuit that was more like pants with a bib (tres fashionable at the end of the 1950's....I remember complaining to my mum that I hurt once only for mum to realise that somehow some (quite a few as I remember) earwigs had found their way in and had bitten or pinched me.....and when I left the water half of the Lido would be in that swimsuit.....and I loved the train....I think I remember we were visiting at the time Cliff Richard made Summer never know me and my little red swimsuit may been on footage there somewhere ... Very happy memories.

Julie D

I used to frequent the lido on the early to mid 70's. It was the only place to go in the summer to get some sun and try and chat up the girls. My mates and myself used to catch the bus from the Eastcote Arms in South Harrow. It was an excellent place to go. I haven't been back since, but the memories are all good. we used to dive into the water with our jeans on to impress the girls. After reading some of these stories and the reports that it has become run down it has saddened me. Where do all the kids go now?
John Cornish

I lived in Ruislip Manor at 31 Filey Waye from 1939 - 1960. My Mother continued to live there until 1971 - 72. I can remember walking up Windmill Hill and going through the woods to pick Bluebells and of course slip into the Lido. When Mum took us we had to ride the 158 bus. I can remember always having a tadpole net with me and caught some pretty good sized Newts at the Lido. I also went to Lady Bankes School. I started in Sept. 1944, Miss Fosters class. I married a Yank and now reside in the States


I lived in Ruislip from 1963 – 1988 and the Lido was a big part of my growing up! My strongest memories were going up to see the fireworks in November. My dad and I used to stand outside the wire fence (cheapskates!). There was always a lesser display at the athletics club in Bury Street (near the blue Dr Who Police Box!) and the traffic crawled up Bury Street all the way from Ladygate Lane. The Lido was a fantastic venue for a display – you got twice as much for your money with the lovely reflections! I never seem to remember it raining. Summer Sundays were sometimes spent up there on the swings, etc at the edge of the woods. The stalls never seemed to be open. Ice creams from the paper shop on the corner of Reservoir Road on the way home!


Once or twice each summer holiday was all my dear Mum could afford to take me and my 4 brothers to the Lido during the late 50s and early 60s. We lived in Hayes and all piled on a 98 bus to Ruislip where we'd wait in a long queue for the 158. Funny how you remember things like bus route numbers, eh? I remember the taxis used to pull up at the bus stop and offer to take 2 families to the Lido in one cab for the same price as the bus but my Mum never took up the offer. For us post war babies, a visit to the Lido was the highlight of the summer hols as we rarely had the chance of a proper holiday at the seaside. Here we had a beach to build sand castles, the water to paddle in, the railway, of course, which we loved, although it was only one go each, and the dreaded wasps. Nevertheless, I have such fond memories of Ruislip Lido and it is such a pity that those days have gone forever. I still live quite close to Ruislip but I doubt I will ever return because I think it would just be too sad to see its demise, especially the loss of that magnificent art deco building near the entrance.


I read the section on Ruislip Lido with much interest. Already I have added some comments to the section on Ruislip Lido Sailing Club. No one seems to have mentioned that very special time on the Queens Coronation in 1953? when all the local schools were given a holiday. We were each given a teaspoon and commemorative mug but best of all was a free coupon which could be used at Ruislip Lido. There were 3 or 4 sections on the coupon for different rides you could go on. The paddle boats was one of them and the donkey rides also the steam train. Lots of children went up there on the day and had a great time with all the free rides. The common next to the main Lido entrance was also a great place to play. There was a pond up the slope towards the woods which I always thought was a flooded bomb crater. There was a small stream running down towards the Lido which was great fun to dam. We had a camp just inside the woods with a tent made of sticks and leaves. For some unknown reason there was a china wedding cake there too. Not sure where that came from! The first Ruislip Scouts used to hold 'Wide Games' on the common at night. The target of the two teams was the others base. Usually a lighted candle in a jam jar tied up in a tree or in a spiky bush. We wore pieces of cotton on our arms as 'lives' If the other side broke your cotton (life) you were disqualified. I remember coming home late at night cut and bruised after these games as no quarter was asked or given.


I lived at 36 Keswick Gardens North Ruislip from August 1957 until October 1963 and have good memories of that bitter winter of 1963 and the Lido being frozen over until early March.

The Council declared it safe to go on when the ice depth reached 7 inches. Dozens of people bravely dared to venture out onto the ice, including me, who was able to walk out of my back garden and through the woods down to the Lido. I was able to gain access through the Lido's back turnstile which was open all that winter and I was able to skate for free for the next 6 or 7 weeks. As each week went by, more and more daring feats were carried out on the ice including Penny King's memory of a Land-Rover driving on the ice towing several skiers behind it. (See photo in main gallery).

I remember also one evening. I think in October 1957, being told by my mother that they were filming down on the Lido. In semi gloom I walked through the woods and watched fascinated as filming of 'A Night to Remember' was being shot. I didn't know it then, but the y were shooting the final scenes of the film. Large Arc Lamps shone down on a lifeboat that was filled with Edwardian clothed film extras. Two men with a large wooden plank were plunging it up and down in the water so as to create a bit of a sea swell.

My other memory is one warm sunny August evening in 1959, suddenly hearing a deep throated roar of an engine like I had never heard before. The noise was ear shattering and my immediate thought was, 'Its the Bluebird', which indeed it was and testing its engine for the next day performance in front of a 20,000 crowd. I have a short colour cine-film of Donald Campbell with his Bluebird on that memorable Saturday afternoon.


On your Ruislip Lido remembrances page, someone named Dave left the following comment:

"I also recall seeing the first person to water-ski without skis showing off at the Lido, I believe in the early 60's. "
That would have been my dad, Jack May. He was a member of the ski  club at Ruislip, and a close friend of its director, David Nations.

Dad was the first man in England, and one of the first half-dozen or so in the world, to successfully water-ski barefoot. It requires
glassy water, a very powerful and fast boat, and great strength. I skied for years when I was a boy and never managed to do it barefoot.

Dad was on the UK national team, and later a judge for international water-skiing competitions. He taught hundreds of people to ski. He is
still alive in 2009, at the age of 86, and resides in Prescott, Arizona.
Just back from visiting the lido today [Sept 09] with my now 87 yr old mother after around 45 years since my last visit shortly after we moved from Greenford in late 1962-memories coming back of the roped off swimming area, digging down in the sand to find what seemed like coal dust [yes, me too!] the original railway, water skiing, turnstiles, bus ride et al- such simple pleasures!
Much quieter now but in a different way still worth future visits. [Been flying for a [quite!] big airline from LHR past 20 yrs or so & when landing on the easterly runway sometimes pass over the lido-looks a real oasis in an otherwise built up area!]

Pete B

I worked in the lido cafe during my summer holidays in 1962, 1963 and 1964. In 1962 I worked in the main (art deco) building but the following year spent a lot of time at the beach hut cafe. This used to get “raided” sometimes by visitors in the night who would make a mess with the sweets, ice-cream cones, and anything else that was edible and left around. At the time I was told that it was squirrels, but I have often wondered since if it might have been Gliss Gliss (edible dormice), who are now established in woods nearby.  The catering was run by an independent contractor and  I earned 2/6 per hour but towards the end of the of my last summer I doubled my wage to 5/- by going to work for the Council on the paddle boats. As mentioned by others, the boss was Mr Newstead, and the foreman was Mr Murphy (no first names in those days!).  Above the cafe in the main building they used to undertake catering jobs. This included a regular rotary club dinner but also various one-off functions. I had my 21st birthday party there in 1968.


I Lived in Reservoir rd which led up to the Lido from the age of 9 in 1965 until 1973 my Father was “Fred “ the life guard and my mother worked in the canteen mainly on the beach side. My father would do maintenance such as repairing fences and laying pipes in the off season (winter months) or mending the row boats.

It was a great place for a kid to grow up with the lido full of thousands of people in the summer making an exciting holiday atmosphere. There was a small “Gang” of us consisting of Kingsley, Mick, Kevin, Paul and Myself getting in to all kinds of mischief that kids our age would.We would spend from sun up to sundown playing in the Lido or the woods surrounding it.

My older step brother hung an old crane cable from a tree in the car park by Ruislip common and at one time i think we had 14 kids swinging on it at the same time, I wonder if it still there?. It was a great place to grow up learning to swim and fish making rafts from old drums and building tree houses in the trees being there every day even in winter we saw and did things that we never would of in the towns or city.

Trying to put it into words seem inadequate maybe one of the “Gang” can have a better go.


I lived in Bury Street in Ruislip from 1975 to 1991, Ruislip Lido played a huge part in my childhood, walking through the woods to the turnstile entrance by the sandy beach, spending many a summer evening there with our inflatable boats.  As a teenager it was over to the other side for the ice cream and sunbathing.   
November was always firework time and our then next door neighbour was part of the roundtable who did the fireworks always a brilliant display and we had the walk home to beat the traffic.   
Someone mentioned the newsagent on the corner of Reservoir Road, I just to do an early morning paper round for them!   I moved away in 1991 but the Lido always stays in my memories.
I lived in South Ruislip from 1940 until 1958, and in March 1959 I got married and moved to Greenford, we had our wedding reception at the lido, and we celebrated our Golden Wedding anniversary at the Waters Edge Pub with family and friends in March last year, it brought back very fond memories. The food and service were excellent on all occasions.


Its been lovely reminiscing while reading all these stories about Ruislip & The Lido (pronounced by my family & friends as Lie-doh!!).

My mother often recalls her memories of when she visited with her older brother, unfortunately missing the filming of Summer Holiday with Cliff Richard - she was and still is a huge Cliff fan (meeting & having coffee with him in a clothes shop her father used to manage - Cecil G's?, if anyone knows of it?)

Growing up in Ruislip & Northwood Hills in the 70's and 80's gave us (myself, brother and few friends) endless opportunities to visit most days from one or other of the entrances (would like to say thanks to the previous Lido dwellers for making several holes in the fences on the woods/sandy side, which we used on more than one occasion to gain 'free' access to a full day of fun).

As a teenager we lived a few minutes away in Standale Grove, so the longed for summer holidays were spent in the Lido - usually swimming or sunbathing, but on a few occasions, after making 'friends' with the lady running the paddle boats, I would often help out on them - which made me feel very grown up and responsible!! Luckily, no-one drowned on my 'watch'!!

My older brother was a bit of a rogue in his teens and would on occasion get himself in trouble by 'running away from home' or the current 'Youth Hostel'' he was put in because mum was at the end of her tether with him. He 'ran' to the lido one hot day, laying in the sun enjoying life (HAH), fag in mouth (he was 14 at this time), when he opens his eyes to see mum and four policemen towering over him ready to drag him back to the hostel he had escaped from. Needless to say, his future visits to the Lido were spent with him constantly looking over his shoulder.
My last year visiting the Lido before moving north with family (1983), was spent with my cousin Julia & several young, fit, American Army service men - that was an amazing few weeks that I am fortunate to remember today.

I have been back to Ruislip on a few occasions since, where the last one was in 2004. I visited the Lido but only from the outside - it breaks my heart to see how much it has changed but I suppose we all have to move on. Its been wonderful looking through all the old pictures of Ruislip and the Lido and remembering the 'good ol days'.

Does any know if 'Naked Norman' is still lurking in the woods????


I've got to say, this is a awesome page. I've been reading through it and never realised the Lido was such a sweet memory for many other people, then just myself! And even more, it was an even more thriving place back in the day, compared to how I remember it!

I was born in 1980, and used to remember my dad taking us to this far away place (it seems far when you're a kid) as a 6/7 year old kid. I remember the speed boats and ramps and today, thought I just imagined it all.
It was really fun playing in the sand with my sister, and eating an ice lolly in the hot summer sun. I seriously loved it, but never knew it was so close.

Now, I just moved in at Bury Street, and realised the Lido is literally on my doorstep! I've discovered the path there through the woods and it comes out right by the beach area – literally 5 mins away from my door step.

Today, the Lido is not like I imagine it, and definitely not like you all describe it. I had no idea it has so much history. And it was in a couple of Cliff Richard songs/movies – wow! Funny stories of this Naked Norman – I never heard about him but I guess that was all before I really knew about the Lido.

I wonder what happened to the Lido and all the jet skiing, swimming etc? I know for a fact on hot days people still love to visit, and it's still fun to go and see everyone there having a blast, and the beach looking full and all the kids having so much fun under the water squirters on busy days.

It's not like I remember it, but because it once held so many fond memories for me, even when I go back today – it still feels amazing. I just love the thought that this is THAT place where I used to come and have SO much fun when I was a kid.

Thanks for all your messages on this page – please keep them coming. If anyone (from abroad etc) is interested in pic of the Lido today, I'd be happy to go and take some for you. I believe there are also some vids on YouTube if you want to have a quick look.


I used to live in Ferncroft Avenue Eastcote until the early seventies and I recall my early visits with my Mother and Sister Val - we used to catch the double decker bus from Ruislip Station. We would queue at the turnstiles for what seemed like ages, before enjoying a train ride, a paddle or a walk around the reservoir.

In my teens I used to walk through the woods with my mates to gain free entry through the back fence. I was there when Donald Campbell and "Bluebird" gave a couple of low speed demonstration runs to the thrill of the crowds.

In recent years I have returned a couple of times to eat in The Waters Edge Carvery and walk around the Lido again. The Carvery is good and so is the extended railway and scenery. However I was somewhat annoyed to note that despite the signs saying "No barbeques" some visitors appeared to think that they were exempt. (possibly a language problem?).

I now live in Selsey, West Sussex but I will always remember my Lido visits with affection!!


I lived in Manor Gardens in South Ruislip after moving from Edmonton in N.E. London from 1959 to 1966 before moving to Coffs Harbour in NSW Australia where I live to this day.

I remember the Lido very well and as a 12 year old around 1963, I used to love going there on the 158 bus, it used to pull up adjacent to a fish and chips shop diagonally across the road from Queensmead secondary modern school grounds, which was my school also at that time. I can`t remember the names of the roads any more.

I remember Cliff Richards and the young ones back then and the filming of it, it was a terrific era to live in, I loved going to the pictures & I think it was called the Odeon in Ruislip (Astoria ROL) and the fish n chips. I loved fishing at the Lido and often caught Roach, Rudd & Bream, sometimes in good numbers of them, I always remember letting them go out of my keep net before coming home because I don`t think they were very good as an eating fish.

I remember I cold evening in November getting on the bus to come home, I saw another angler with a large pike stuffed inside his duffle bag and half the fishes body was hanging out over the top of the duffle bag, it was a big fish and I remember being somewhat amazed and also a little bit envious, I asked him what he used for bait and he said it was a live roach. I had a bit of a try after that for Pike but never caught one.

I also liked swimming at the Lido and going across on the motor boat, to where the train was. I used to ask my Dad how deep the Lido was but he didn't know, I reckoned it must have been pretty deep though.

I remember the Lido was pretty big to walk around and there was a wooded area across the other side from the entry area. I remember the water skiing there and I used to wish as a kid that one day I could do the jumps like they did. I tried to learn to water ski later in Life in the Cook Islands when I was on holidays there, but didn't pursue it, I still like fishing though and Australia has some great fishing.
I often wonder what happened to all my old mates from Queensmead as I have never been back to the U.K. since emigrating to Australia.

Michael Stokes

I can only remember going to the Lido once in the early to mid-1950’s but it must have made a big impression. I loved swimming and used to attend the Ealing Swimming Baths, and be taken to the Uxbridge outdoor pool by my mother (mainly), but on the occasion of my visit to Ruislip Lido we went as a family, including my Uncle. I think it is because my Uncle was with us that I remember this one particular visit.

Having read others accounts I will now go and ask my parents (Mum 91 and Dad 93) whether we did actually go more than once.

We left Ealing in 1958 to migrate to Australia (Adelaide) where we all still live but I will now try and remember to visit the Lido on my next UK trip.

Caroline Wood (nee Senior)

We moved to Reservoir Road in 1943 and lived in house 5 doors down from Lido entrance. My mother and father used to sell there own ice creams and pop. They made their own ice lollies sold a 1d and 2d each, from a caravan in our front garden.

My brother David, sister Mary and my twin brother Edward and myself enjoyed many happy years in the Lido. My wife Lucinda (Cindy) father used to work at the paddle boats in the late 1950's. We have now moved to Spain and live in a village called Riogordo. Brian Barrett.
My name as a child was Tina Kenealy, I lived in Coles Crescent, in the 1960's would take the 158 to the lido, we would be there for hours, didn't have a care in the world, as long as we were home for tea ,no I-Phones back then, remember the turnstiles & always being a line of kids all waiting to push their way in, the speedboat on the water, it was the only seaside we got to see some years ( even if it was manmade) it was our seaside & we loved it, if we had money would ride the little train, it was a different world back then.

I moved to Northwood Hills at the age of 16 from Cricklewood. The next day I was allowed to take my 2 younger sisters, Jean and Liz,  aged 5 & 9 on the bus to the Lido. This was great-life in the country! I decide that we could walk home through the woods. Much quicker ,and cheaper! Imagine my terror when I was aware of prying eyes amongst the ferns bordering the footpath. I picked Jean up, grabbed Liz's hand and ran!! When I looked back briefly, there was a man, starkers, standing on the path!! We escaped and later found out that it was harmless Naked Norman so we were never in danger. However, a very scared moment.

Sometime during the 70s, The Goodies filmed a at Ruislip Lido for one of their comedy episodes - I think it was called 'Scotland'. It was about the Loch Ness Monster. The details escape me now, but Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden were there with the dummy Nessie, filming around the toilet block that was near to the first set of turnstiles as you approached the Lido coming down Reservoir Road from the Bury Street end.

Chasing the monster through the building was only a brief part of the episode when it finally aired, but it was fun to watch all the activity while they were filming.
In the 70s I spent most of my childhood in Ruislip Woods, making hidden camps and death slides (a length of rope from the top of a tree to the bottom of another that you could hang a cloth or smaller piece of rope over and slide down). My mum was once flashed by Naked Norman in the woods. He had only an overcoat and a batman mask, despite his face being covered she thought she knew who it was (I don't know how).

You were supposed to pay about 10p to go in the lido but I was so skinny I could squeeze through the green turn style the wrong way. There was also a hole in the fence near the swings you could sneak through. When I was a 15 or so I was in the lido with some mates (only ones there...or so we thought) .I pulled a wooden stake out of the ground which was going to be a fence, a policeman had been watching from the other side of the lido with binoculars. He came speeding round in his car (yes in the lido), sirens going. He almost knocked me down in the car, he jumped out, truncheon ready, and went for me. He slammed me against his car ,arrested me ,handcuffed me, bundled me into his car and took me back to the crime scene....a hole in the ground.....happy days!

You mention in your memories of Ruislip Lido that some people had drowned there. I just thought that I would let you know that my uncle Eric Bertram Provins drowned at the Lido in 1933 when he was 21. He was driving a coal cart with a couple of friends and they decided to take a dip at the end of the day to wash off the coal dust. He unfortunately got cramp and drowned before anyone realised the danger. He is buried at Wealdstone Cemetery.

I remember going to the Lido with my next door neighbours. They were quite affluent and owned a car. We parked up near the water on the north bank along with so many others. We were going to fish, but for the first time in many years we were going to use the swimming area on that side. We had been there so many times but always bathed on the beach side having walked through the woods to get there.

Today was going to be a first! Travelling by car and picnicking on the banks of the Lido. My next door neighbour and I were intent on making our way out to the island on the swimming pool side. We waded out towards the platform, not realising there was a step down. Up to our necks in water we made our way. Neither could swim and when I stepped off the ledge I experienced the worst moment in my life.

I'm now a really strong swimmer, but those few moments of absolute terror as I swallowed the Lido's waters will stay with me forever. Fortunately another bather, hauled me out, (no idea how many times I went under but well remember a feeling of complete resignation of surrender.) I recall bring dragged out of the water by my rescuer and being left with the lifeguard. Bless him, my recollection is he didn't know what to do! I recall coughing up loads of stuff, mainly water. Once I seemed ok he sent me off, with my neighbour's son to find his parents.

Nothing was said. Totally traumatised and not sure how close I'd been to death.

We went back to fishing. What made it worse was when he cast his line the hook snagged in the back of my head.

Guess which incident was reported to my parents?
Reminiscing about the past I came across Ruislip Lido memories and thought I would add my some of my own. I worked there in the late 1970's during the holidays while I was a student.

I remember having an interview with the Manager, I think his name was Harry Prescott and I heard nothing back from him. A week or so later I rang him and cheekily asked: "When are you going to let me help you run the Lido" Amazingly he said, start Monday and I did. That was about 1977 or 1978 the year that someone drowned taking out a paddle boat late one night. The police spent a long time looking before they found the body.

I started as a lifeguard, but also sometimes rented out the rowing boats. When there was no sunshine or on quiet days, maintenance and cleaning was the routine.

The other names I remember are Alan Swanson the Assistant Manager now passed on. Super Terry Stockdale the Supervisor, also a fantastic character Peter Wright and another chap called Graham Wardle and a man called Rod who would operate a machine to clear weeds. I recall another young chap called Tony and there were some girls working at the Lido and I seem to remember a Lisa but not the others, but all were lovely and friendly.

I remember the plant room and I think chlorine would be pumped out to the swimming area in front of the old buildings and across by pipe to the sandy beach side.  I remember hearing something along the lines of "Too much chlorine and the fish will die, not enough and the swimmers might!! The main swimming area was in front of the old white flat roofed buildings (now demolished). I would row or swim out to a floating platform and watch the kids swimming to make sure none got into trouble. Twice I remember doing my bit to stop children from going under and diving in and bringing them to the shallower part.

I can remember on the dull cooler days doing the fence repairs. In those days there was an entrance fee and the locals did not like that and some were forever cutting holes in the perimeter fence. I remember arriving early in the morning and seeing an occasional deer and also on two occasions a snake. One day a big 17lb pike was caught by a fisherman and I recall thinking that I was glad they didn't bite the swimmers.

I can remember driving Robert the Train, this had a Ford Cortina 1600cc engine. Alan Swanson put a big log out of sight around a corner to see if I could stop in time. I did and remember receiving a certificate for passing my train driving test! I have that certificate somewhere and must try and find it. The year before I was there, I heard a story about the train coming off the rails and someone breaking an arm. This incident meant that all the drivers now had to pass a safety test.

One day I remember a large lorry carrying sand and with the others we spread the sand along the beach. In our breaks we would have our tea and lunch in the boat house.

I must have been shy of girls in those days. One day I remember a gorgeous looking mum in an orange bikini saying she had lost a ring. Looking back I'm sure this was a come on, but I was too naive back then. Another time on a warm sunny day I was in my shorts painting the swings and tipped a whole tin of red paint over my shoulder and chest. One of the lovely girls working there helped clean me up. I remember the mischievous, but lovely man Peter Wright, encouraging the situation. The girl was keen but I was too shy and embarrassed. I last saw Peter Wright working at the Case is Altered pub in Eastcote, but that was a few years ago. I hope he is still alive.

Being in my twenties, I was into keeping fit and would do my pull ups in the boat house from the roof beams. One day I challenged another lad to a race around the lido, unfortunately he was faster than he looked and I came second. I remember the water skiing with this cool big biceps skier called Battleday. He made it look easy. I would cycle from my home in Vine Lane, Hillingdon and then bought a Suzuki motorbike which I kept during the day in the boat house. They were enjoyable times. The next season I was a supervisor at Uxbridge open air pool.

My daughter is now 19 and my son 16 and I have fond memories of pushing them round the lido in their pushchairs and playing on the sand and swings. The railway is far more organised and far more sophisticated now but the magic remains.

Later on in the early 1980's I joined Wrethams Estate Agents, which became Prudential Property Services, which became Woolwich Property Services. In 1991 I acquired my first branch in Ruislip High Street with friend Paul Gillespie and we opened Gibbs Gillespie.

Gibbs Gillespie would now be Ruislip's oldest name in Estate Agency. Now with 12 branches it has been some journey.

If any of those lido workers are still around pop into one of my branches and leave your number please. I'd love to hear from you and take a longer trip down the Lido's memory lane. Thanks for reading.

James Gibbs

I remember mainly walking our dogs in the woods, there was a strange man used to follow us around keep making bird sounds then hiding, don't think it was Naked Norman as this one was dressed. Reading the section by James Gibbs about the drowning wondering if it was my neighbours two brothers who lived in Sussex Road, Harrow. thought they had both drown while taking a boat out late at night during the 70s we really were not aware of the dangers We were regular visitors during my childhood and still visit now.

Both fond and sad memories.


I was fascinated to read the account of someone whose father worked for John Miller.  My father George Moseley also worked from the Lido in the offices there during the War for John Miller Shipping.  I remember well the Wallaby getting free and my father volunteering to clean out the monkeys cage and the monkeys grooming his head - my sister and I absolutely loved the Lido and swam and played there throughout the War.

Julia Dart