• LOCATION 10 | The Battle of Britain House: A Walk Through Ruislip Woods

    Water's Edge

    Water's Edge on London audio tour The Battle of Britain House: A Walk Through Ruislip Woods

    You are now standing in front of the Water's Edge, with the Ruislip Lido ahead of you. You can enjoy the view here for a while.

    A magnificent Art Deco Lido once stood where the pub is now. It was built in 1933 by George W. Smith and featured a restaurant, changing rooms, showers, and other amenities. A wide area in front of the building was reserved for swimming and boating.

    Let's continue. Please make your way towards the large car park across the pub.

    At its heyday, the Ruislip Lido was the epicentre of social life, with glamorous happenings and water sports events taking place each summer. Donald Campbell's record-breaking Bluebird speedboat raced here in the late 60s, and several champion and celebrity water skiers raced the Lido's waters, including world champion Mike Suyderhoud of the US, and South African heart surgeon Christian Barnard.

    Then there were summertime beauty pageants and swimsuit contests attracting celebrities like English comedian Benny Hill, or young hopefuls like English beauty Charlotte Rampling, or Australian model Patti Morgan, both of whom went on to have successful acting careers. And there were gymnastics exhibitions and dance shows - and even a mass baptism once took place in the waters of the Ruislip Lido.

    Strangely, the Lido has been used twice as a film set for a Loch Ness monster-themed production. 1961's 'What a Whopper' featuring Adam Faith, Sid James and Carol Lesley, is about a writer attempting to raise some cash by writing a book about the Loch Ness Monster. And in a 1971 episode of the youth series The Goodies, the adventurous trio attempt to catch the Loch Ness monster, with the Ruislip Lido making an appearance as Scotland's most famous lake.

    By the late 70s, the Ruislip Lido's glamour began to fade. Beset by ongoing economic recession and declining visitor numbers, it eventually shut down. In 1993, the empty Art Deco building was set alight in a senseless act of vandalism, damaging it beyond repair, a sad and unfitting end to its fascinating story.

    You should now be close to the car park across the Water's Edge pub. Cross the car park diagonally to find a hidden exit to a trail that will lead you back to the woods.

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The Battle of Britain House: A Walk Through Ruislip Woods