London is swimming

[Image: Photo by Gigi Cifali; view larger].

There was an interesting overlap the other week between Time Out London's cover story, "Swim City," about London's "best pools, ponds and lidos," and Polar Inertia's newest issue featuring beautiful photographs of abandoned swimming pools throughout the greater London area.

[Image: Photo by Gigi Cifali; view larger].

"Great pools?" Time Out asked. "From marble-clad baths dripping in history to modern leisure centres echoing with lifeguards' whistles, London is swimming in them."
Except, of course, many of its pools are also drained and forgotten.

[Image: Photo by Gigi Cifali; view larger].

The photos here are all by Gigi Cifali, who originally trained as a topographer, from a series called "Absence of Water." The images document the disused pools of London – and there are many more of these photos to be seen over at Polar Inertia or on Cifali's own website.

[Images: Photos by Gigi Cifali; view larger: top and bottom].

I'm reminded, though, of a great line from J.G. Ballard's novel Empire of the Sun:
    Jim watched Mr. Maxted sway along the tiled verge of the empty swimming pool, curious to see if he would fall in. If Mr. Maxted was always accidentally falling into swimming pools, as indeed he always was, why did he only fall into them when they were filled with water?
Why, indeed.

(All photos by Gigi Cifali).

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Blogger Victor said...

Those are some gorgeous swimming pools (or pictures. or both). I haven't read ballard (seen the movie, though), but it reminded me of "Teddy", a novel by Salinger...

here's the link:

June 27, 2008 2:23 PM  
Blogger Tripgrass said...

Gorgeous. Reminds me of the now neglected new york pools of Moses.

For more london aquatic fun (if you haven't posted them already):

June 27, 2008 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The indoor pools you show look like they'd be well worth restoring to service.

June 28, 2008 7:31 PM  
Blogger Bill Bernstein said...

Another swimming pool, equally abandoned by swimmers, but maintained in pristine perfection: the Hurst Castle indoor pool.

June 28, 2008 11:32 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I find it slightly annoying that you're attributing all these examples to London... Victoria Baths is definitely in Manchester!

July 01, 2008 10:55 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Joe, I'm sorry you find it "annoying" that I was under the impression that these photos were all taken around London.

July 01, 2008 12:03 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Sorry, my tone was a bit off there... put it down to my Manc-o-centric psyche...

July 02, 2008 4:17 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

No worries.

I need to read up on Manchester baths, I guess...!

July 02, 2008 4:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all sublime, please, geoff, look at this artist's website( , she dwells and works close to London, and specilises in painting Swimming pools among other things, abandoned and beautiful edifices such as Mussolinis Holiday camps, and English Lidos. In fact she is exhibiting in London at the moment, I really compel you to see her work, she is indeed for me one of the most exciting painters in Britain at the moment, my gosh it is true....She's also a friend, so no byass there...

July 02, 2008 12:27 PM  
Blogger said...

Reminds me of an incredible gallery I visited outside of Lille, France. In Roubaix called "la piscine" I believe. Its in an old swimming hall converted to an art gallery. Incredible space.

July 02, 2008 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the nostalgia of deserted public places.

August 18, 2008 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Londra said...

Would have been great if you had the addresses of these places with the pictures.

May 29, 2009 12:07 PM  

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