Naturist London, a group that meets once a week for a costume-free swim in Central London, celebrates its 10th birthday next year, but may be doing so without a place to swim.
Initially created by British Naturism in 2012 to meet the demand for a regular skinny-dipping session in the capital – and to catch London up with facilities that are hosted in other European cities – the Naturist London Sunday Swim was subsequently run by a team of volunteers and quickly became the most popular Naturist swim in the country, with up to 100 swimmers gathering for an hour on a Sunday lunchtime.
The University of London's decision not to reopen EnergyBase, its sports facility within the Student Central building on Malet Street, following the year-long closure during the pandemic, has been described as a "crushing blow" by the Naturist community who use the pool.
The university plans to convert the building to provide additional teaching and study space for next door Birkbeck University, a move which will "not only be a loss to Naturists, but to all Londoners", say British Naturism.
Designed in 1939 and completed in 1952, the historic pool has a royal box used by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, when watching swimming galas, and was used by the Beatles for a photoshoot in 1963.
Colin, a spokesperson from Naturist London, said: "We know from our social media that a great many people were looking forward to swimming with us again as soon as lockdown restrictions were relaxed. This sad news, coming just as an end was in sight, will cause widespread disappointment. So, if you have a swimming pool, we have plenty of swimmers eager to use it! And not necessarily on a Sunday.’
Andrew Welch, a spokesperson for British Naturism, said: "Interest in social nudity is growing fast in the UK. Taboos around the naked human body are eroding and people are beginning to acknowledge the health and well-being benefits of spending time without clothes, especially in the company of others, with more and more wanting to give it a try and experience the exhilarating feelings for themselves."