Grubby Glass Palace

Now before I embark on this little tail, please bear in mind that I cycled there from Hackney.

It was easy enough to find the building, the epic, overwhelming eye saw, but just not the door. After the guys racing their remote controlled cars outside stopped steering them at me, they kindly pointed in the direction of the entrance.

The building is HUGE! It has so many activities to do here you could move in for years. It has 4 swimming pools, the biggest of which is the 8-laned, 50m indoor square lake.

The man in front of me in the queue had his small daughter with him, and was asking about which pool they should go to, the lady on the counter replied “The Teaching Pool closes at 2, (it was 1.38pm) but the Training Pool opens at 2”. He seemed to understand, so I asked which one I should go to. Turns out there is a Main Pool as well, for grown ups.

As I wandered through the mass of space to find a staircase to the changing rooms it was very overwhelming. Down the stairs I opened the door into a changing room the size of a tennis court. There is a huge open space, with some changing cubicles. A nice touch was a little baby play pen. I’ve no need to notice it, but haven’t in any other pools before.

The cubicles are massive with plenty of room to swing a cat. The lockers are….wait for it, wait for it…of course follow suit. In fact there are tall ones so you could actually hang your suit up. It’s a non-returnable 20p but I feel like it’s a justified rent cost!

Now, by the title of this post you probably gathered I wasn’t overly impressed with everything. To access the pool you have to walk up a staircase, which is freezing and it was muddy, before getting into the pool. This is what kind of sets the tone for the swim.

After a couple of weeks of swimming in beautiful and newly refurbed pools, the Crystal Palaces brutalist and murky side seems even more prominent. It does make me wonder what the Olympic pool will be like in 40 years time. I don’t think there are any issues with the pool’s hygiene (there was a lady cleaning the changing rooms when I was there), but it does seem very dated and a bit delapidated. It is all very well equipped, but just seems to have been totally usurped by London Aquatics centre. I’m going to research a bit of the history of the pool (can’t find much readily available online) and it does make me feel a bit sad, like being the forgotten sister of the Olympic-sized pool family.

After wandering back down the cold stairs, the changing rooms are a more welcoming experience. The shower cubicles are of course massive as well, and I have to say it’s a really nice shower, nice and warm, push button that lasts longer than a few seconds.

There are a couple of hairdryers (no costume dryer) and so much space that it’s all very nice getting ready.

I think this pool is certainly one to experience, and the surroundings are pretty spectacular. Enjoy the walk up and around the listed building as it looks as though there must have some very interesting stories.


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