Hampstead Ponds are three large freshwater swimming ponds – two designated single sex, and one for mixed bathing – fed by the River Fleet in Hampstead Heath, England. They are situated slightly to the north of the Lido open air swimming pool at the southern tip of the park.
They were originally dug in the 17th and 18th centuries as reservoirs. A malarial marsh was drained by the Hampstead Water Company in 1777 to meet London’s growing water demand.
In 2004, the Corporation of London, which operates the Heath, tried to close the ponds on the grounds that they were an unsustainable drain on their expenses and posed a health risk to swimmers. The swimmers challenged this and won a victory in the High Court. To defray costs, the Corporation introduced a charge for swimmers of ?2 per session, ?1 for concessions. There was some opposition to this. Some of the ticket machines were vandalized.