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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for anyone who has ever swam on Hampstead Heath., 6 May 2012
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M. Thompson (Bristol United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath (Paperback)
Having swam on Hampstead Heath throughout the 1980s and just accepted it as a timeless never changing place it is good to have a history of the swimming ponds and lido.

Taking the Waters the Waters: A Swim around Hampstead Heath is a well written, fascinating account of the ponds, lido and swimming on Hampstead Heath from the 1700s to the present day. Beautifully put together with atmospheric contemporary photographs and wonderful archive photographs from the 1900s onwards.

I particularly liked reading the accounts of the various controversies and disputes that have occurred throughout the history of swimming at the ponds and lido. As a user of the ponds I was blissfully unaware of these but would echo the commentary that most swimmers at the pond did not really have any issue with nude sunbathing and the gay crowd. I never sunbathed naked at the Men's pond and my only memory of it was to think that the walrus beach effect on a hot day was vaguely amusing.
Another insight I found interesting was the high level of drowning during the Victorian age and beyond. Most of us would now say that Health and Safety has got out of hand but some good work must have been done by the RLSS and H&E lobby to bring the number of swimming drowning down to the very low levels we have today.

If you have ever swam on Hampstead Heath or are interested in the development of open water swimming in this country this book is highly recommended. After reading the book I cannot wait to swim again on Hampstead Heath.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Celebration of a Glorious Place, 21 Sep 2012
This review is from: Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath (Paperback)
I am a recent immigrant to this part of London and as such have only swum the LIDO and ponds over the last couple of years but I have fallen for them. This book documents the life stories of these oases of calm in the heart of London.

One is aware, when swimming here, that generations have done the same and this book beautifully provides a digest of the history of the swimming on the heath. The stories are deftly told by Caitlin Davies and illustrated with some very fine photography by Ruth Corney and also supported by some archive pictures.

What I particularly like about this book is that it is a book, not about a place that is dead and gone, but somewhere that goes on living and breathing. Space in the book is dedicated to documenting the current use of the LIDO and pond with testimony from swimmers and photographs of the heath in its current state. On reaching the end of the book, the overriding feeling is a desire to grab a towel and slide down to the water. It is vivid celebration of a glorious place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Appealing Invitation to Take the Plunge, 3 Sep 2012
This review is from: Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath (Paperback)
I never imagined that a book about swimming on Hampstead Heath could be so fascinating and charming. This is a gem of a book-- beautifuly written and designed, meticulously researched and packed with interesting but little known facts. It details the 200 year history of the development and use of the Hampstead Ponds (Mens, Ladies and Mixed) and the Lido(swimming pool) as public swimming facilities, how they were used to sponsor competitive swimming and diving events at the turn of the 20th century, and how they became and remain so immensely popular among Londoners.

It is packed with fascinating historical photos of bathers of all ages and walks of life, Pond and Lido staff, and gorgeous contemporary photos of the waters, bathers and wildlife. I found the personal stories of the hundreds of year round, cold water swimmers, including many well known personalities, were especially riveting. The public takes for granted the existence of the Ponds and the Lido but it has been a struggle to maintain adequate funding and accessibility while protecting the safety of swimmers. Especially alarming is the account of the recent controversy over the battle to preserve the unique character of the Ponds while proceeding with plans to rebuild the banks and construct dams as required by the Flood and Water Management Act of 2010.

Most visitors to London-- whether from the UK or abroad--are unaware of the spacious natural beauty of Hampstead Heath, and its variety of delightful, refreshing waters available for swimming (and gazing at). This book will surely entice them to go and take a dip themselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars memoiries of my childhood., 18 July 2013
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This review is from: Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath (Paperback)
having been born and grown up in london, brought back many memoiries .having spent many a day up at the ponds back in the early fifties.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great!, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath (Paperback)
I purchased this book as a gift for my dad on Fathers Day. It has been such a great hit!
My dad(now in his 80's) used to be a member of the Highgate swimming club. He always went swimming on Christmas day and loved doing swallow dives into the murky water beneath. He was overjoyed to read about the early history of the ponds and also about some of his fellow members. The map was a useful reminder of the area He was so happy to see that the ponds are still in good use - even the changes. I'm sure he would recommend this to anyone who has ever swam in them or is thinking of doing so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars memories, 15 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath (Paperback)
I bought this because it is where I grew up. It bought back some lovely memories and the pictures are lovely
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Memories, 8 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath (Paperback)
A gorgeous little book stuffed with superb photographs and a very interesting and informative text. I bought it because in the early70's I lived within a stone's throw of the Ladies' and Men's bathing ponds and spent many happy summer days reading in the sun and swimming in the velvetty waters when I got too hot. So for me, above all, it was a trip into the past. I also loved the map at the beginning of the book and have revisited in my memory all the walks I took on the Heath. This has quickly become one of my most treasured books!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good buy for a present for a fan of pond swimming. I gave it to my aunt for Christmas and she loved it!, 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath (Paperback)
I have a great affection for swimming in the ponds at Hampstead Heath, particularly Kenwood Ladies' pond and this book more than does justice to the history of this venerable institution. Enjoy reading this nicely illustrated book and carry on supporting and swimming in these splendid ponds! Well done Caitlin Davies for writing this fine guide.
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Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath
Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath by Ruth Corney (Paperback - 17 May 2012)
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