The Campaigners Efforts of Saving an Edwardian 1902 Open Air Ladies Baths from potential disappearance in 2002
Archive and Visions of the Kings Meadow Campaign
Archive and Visions of the Kings Meadow Campaign.
Archive – THE STORY.
Most recent outline in 2012/3 of efforts to keep the Baths for the Community
Kings Meadow Campaign (quote)
We are a group of campaigners that have been trying to save the baths since 2002 when it was threatened by the bulldozer. We gained Grade II Heritage Listing in 2004. We have stopped the building being knocked down making way for a proposed International high rise hotel and car park. We want to preserve a piece of land that was given to the People of Reading by George Palmer, and maintain a beautiful riverside as well as eventually getting the pool up and running again. To preserve our remaining Heritage for generations past, present and future. To keep this area for the Community.
A REAL COMMUNITY PROJECT FOR THE COMMUNITY
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This will help us involve youths who are not in education,employent or training (NEETS) to learn new skills and help tidy, scrub, paint, restore. To learn metal working, woodwork and carpentry under the tuition and supervision of highly skilled trainers, and the opportunity to meet future employers. To help them feel pride and satisfaction contributing to our Heritage.
Some councillors advised that RBC should give the Campaigners more time but to support them fully and help them achieve Lottery Money
Let the Community take over the Kings Meadow Swimming Baths to turn it into a cutting edge cultural venue!
2013 For Posterity Sparrow Hawk Band donated the first track on Petition Page. We want to thank the chaps for donating a song to the cause! The guys are brilliant. for more info on them head herehttps://www.facebook.com/TheSparrowClub
Archive – Message from Lead Campaigner Bob O’ Neill
NEWS – 22nd September 2013
Bob O’Neill, from the King’s Meadow Campaign, writes:
“Please may I bring it to your attention the final decision which will cast the King’s Meadow Baths’ future for the next 250 years – way beyond our lifetimes and that of the Councillors that are making it. But for what reason are they going for such a long disposal? Is this to ensure that there can be no reversal…? What do the Council see as their role in our daily lives more than farming our money?The criteria that the Reading Council claim to be using is based on money and current climate and not on community well-being. Is their decision transparent? A high level of support that the authority has given to the Bristol Glass Boat Company [aka Bristol / Clifton Lido] has been increasingly obvious and began prior to the King’s Meadow Campaign’s last ditch attempt to stop the sale via the Assets of Community Value back last year – part of the Government’s Big Society pledge. I believe that the Authority has made every effort to ensure that the alternative route to national funding could never be a reality. The Lottery Commission admitted that the Council and the Bristol developer had been in communication with them to deter funds going towards a community project – the necessary lifeline funding. What chance could KMC have without it…?? If KMC’s plans do not fulfil the Community criteria, why was one bid out of five given centre stage so early and the other bids were not fully investigated? I would like to thank you for your kind support and belief in there being a community in Reading. Please watch the developments and send me your comments as things progress – should there be a need for a legal challenge….
Meeting with Rob Wilson MP at Apex Plaza Friday 12th July 2013 11.30am Various aspects and participants have been invited to discuss the future of the Baths.
“MP calls summit to debate old baths”
Campaigners fighting to re-open a derelict swimming pool have been given astrand of hope after Reading East MP Rob Wilson announced a summit to debate the project. Mr Wilson visited the Kings Meadow Baths with Stuart McLeod, responsible forthe Heritage Lottery Fund in the South East last Thursday to discuss restoring the area, closed since 1974. Kings Meadow campaigners have been battling since 2002 to get the Grade 11listed Edwardian built pool open again. But Reading Borough Council announced in November it was putting the pool up for sale after hearingthe campaigners had raised only £10,000 towards the £750000 needed to reopen it themselves. Mr Wilson had called a Kings Meadow Summit on a date still to be set, to find a way out of the problem. He said,
“this campaign has been going on sometime now, and I have been asked to help it make some progress. I don’twant to raise anybody’s expectations, because there is unlikely to a solution without the borough councils full input and agreement. “I hope that by bringing all interested parties together with potentialsources of funding, we can find an agreed way forward that satisfies everybody”
FIRST STAGE OF CAMPAIGNERS WORK PROGRESS Starting15/09/2012
Campaigners set to work to replace missing coping slabs. Reading Borough Council has agreed to TEMPORARY repair the Plant room roof to prevent the leakage – (as a result of the above)
This was appreciated as we use this room to raise our funds. it was addressed.
The Campaigners have were informed officially that Kings Meadow Pool is to be listed as an asset of Community Value in accordance with S88 of the Localism Act. 29th January 2013
The campaigners now have the Community Right to Bid.
This result entitled this application.
It’s Grade II Listing secured by the Campaigners in 2004 didn’t have the same bearing as being listed as an assett to the Community.
An application for a Locality/Social Enterprise Grant of £10000 is now well under way with Locality assisted breakdown of funding. (Eventually did not materialise due to prevailing circumstances. “RBC’s Difficult decision”
Placed on the Open MarketOpen to bidders. Kings Meadow Campaigners had a Moratorium of 6 months until July 31st 2012 to make last efforts to keep the building for the Community2012 Quote from Bob )’Neill The KMC Presentation to the Council Robert O’Neill
RBC are marketing but haven’t quite closed the doors on us, we have just as much chance. They need proof of Public support and is needed now more than ever if you want to see the building/pool kept for the People of Reading, otherwise it risks being offered to a developer.
“Named by English Heritage as a group that sets an example of passionate endeavour to preserve our Heritage.”
From Heritage Day in 2012 – June 2013 the pool was manned and open to the Public every weekend.
Campaigners History Recap
Since the campaigners had petitioned hard to stop the bulldozers and presented the thousands of signatures to Westminster led by Jane Griffiths MP, and consequently obtaining the Heritage Grade II Listing in 2004, Reading Borough Council’s plans for redevelopment of the site were stalled.
In order to gain some income the building was leased to the Reading Sub Aqua Dive Club for a peppercorn rent. They used the site as a non-swimming storage and meeting place.
Despite this the outside of the building was graffitied, vandalised and had fallen into disrepair.
2009 – 2011
The Baths were threatened once again
The Reading Sub Aqua Club were due to vacate the building. Reading Borough Council invited proposals for the future of the site and, in April 2009, developers Askett Hawk were given permission to build a hotel at the site.
In September 2009 the council rejected the proposal to grant a 250-year lease to Askett Hawk and decided to give the campaigners group the opportunity to develop a scheme to restore the pool for public use.
There was much petitioning and meetings deciding the future of the Baths including the “period of 2 years exclusivity” to the campaigners, once the dive club had finally vacated the premises.
This would enable them to raise funds during the – Mr Cameron’s recent 2015 quote “the country’s deepest recession” which affected the building industry!
Until this period, the Campaigners had their hands tied until the Reading Sub Aqua Club had departed from the building. Campaigners involved themselves in much background work raising public awareness. The Baths were drained and cleared of 35 years of rubbish – amongst other things discovering a family of roach living under the oil slicks floating on the surface of the water. They were rehoused back into more comfortable surroundings – the Thames.
Love my family, (all water babies), my maltese dog. I like writing about my passions including lost lidos, sport of diving, heritage, learning to play boogie, and now having a go at some fiction writing.
View all posts by Anne Green Jessel