25 May 2003
LISTING OF TWICKENHAM RIVERSIDE SWIMMING POOL
Readers will be aware that there is a national campaign to save open air Lidos. The majority of this countries Lidos were built in the 1930’s at the time of a newly awakened interest in health and sport. They were often built by civic minded Councils and were a great success.
Twickenham open air riverside swimming pool is a local example. Built in 1934 by the then Twickenham Urban District Council. The architecture of the Lidos built in this period were often in the Art Deco style and Twickenham is no exception. The Art Deco movement is the subject of a hugely successful current exhibition at the V&A Museum.
Richmond Council who own the site in Twickenham should be concerned to conserve and investigate its potential. The Council has policies which could ensure this investigation and consideration of renovation, but has consistently chosen to ignore these.
Because of this failure to consider the potential use by the community of such a facility The Twickenham Riverside Terrace group has decided to apply for Listed Building status for the pool site buildings.
This is currently being considered by the Government Department responsible for such matters, the Department of Culture Media And Sports (DCMS).
The TRT group has particular concerns that the renovation and use of the existing buildings has not been considered in any report over the last two decades despite evident planning policies to encourage this.
As a piece of supreme irony the very organisations who could make use of the buildings are being invited to compete amongst themselves through the Twickenham Challenge, in order to raise funds for a new building on site.
Conservation, renovation, sustainability, ethical policies, environmentally friendly are all phrases in the vocabulary of the Council which are ignored when it’s expedient. No consideration has been taken of the huge cost of new building on this site relative to the refurbishment cost of the existing buildings.
This Council informed us that it has no money for a development for the community on this site. However it has managed from a seemingly bottomless purse to find £800,000 to commission further reports, security fence the site, build a children’s playground, provide 6 benches and remove a building. Duration of proposals 5 years, then destruction, as a whole new development appears to threaten the long term future of the site with only limited public space or benefit.
The future development of this site is unknown, but we should all remember that in the Richmond & Twickenham Times before the last elections the Conservatives said their vision was ” ….the River should be open to the town…leading to a landscaped public open space.”
This is why we consider it necessary to List the existing Buildings so that the community gets a proper deal and a secure future stake on the Riverside. Remember what this Council wishes to forget: that the site was purchased in 1924 for public walks and pleasure purposes.
Some of the reasons for listing:
- A good example of a 1930’s public lido, retaining a large proportion of original features;
- A significant local public building, designed by the Borough Architect and built by public demand with public money;
- Remembered with affection by many local people and their families, who enjoyed using it for many years;
- Capable of economic refurbishment and adaptation;
- Capable of making a major positive contribution to the townscape and riverside setting.
If you support us please write to ……
Mr Anthony Nonyelu
The Department of Culture Media and Sport
Architecture and Historic Environment Division
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH.