Great Engineering of the Kings Meadow Baths alongside the Thames
Above picture “Allens of Reading” who made the iron columns
The great engineering difficulties of constructing a bath of this kind, lying so far below the normal water level is considerable.
Great care is necessary in conducting the excavations to form the concrete bottom.
Great engineering resulted in a pool bottom of two feet in thickness.
The construction of the walls of the bath equally so, which are three feet thick at the base. Great engineering thought and planning have to be implemented when building a swimming pool so close to the river.
To carry out this and other underground work, great engineering design led to a large pumping sump which was necessary. There are duplicate engines and pumps fixed, in order to guard against breakdown.
Before the Opening
Much discussion took place and delays of the opening of the Bath were minuted by the Corporation. The negotiations took place between members of the Thames Conservancy, and the owner of the Lower Caversham Mill Mr Lawes before the opening of the great engineering fete of the Ladies Bath.
Mr Milsom wanted a 24 inch outlet and inlet pipe for the pool. Taking off the water, and the return of it to the river was an issue.
The water supply is derived from the Thames. The intake of water is protected by a grid. By means of a syphon it is then carried through the 24 inch culvert underneath the towpath.
This then enters a large filter in the Kings Meadow where it is treated. After treatment it passes through a second 24 inch culvert to the bath.
Completing the cycle
From the bath it is discharged over the weir, the level of which can be regulated at pleasure into a third culvert. This communicates with the stream discharging into the river immediatle below the lock.
Absolute control of the water is maintained at all points.
When full, the bath holds 152.000 gallons. A continuous current of water will be maintained in the bath by the difference in the level between the headwater at Caversham Lock and the tail water at Sonning Reach.
A test of water tightness of the bath was made during the time when the headwater in the Thames was 2 feet 6 inches above the normal water level.
The whole of the work was designed and constructed under the superintendance of the Borough Engineer and Surveyor – Mr John Bowen, Associate Member C.E. – and the Contractor Mr Henry Hill of Reading.
The total cost of the work was £4890.
Concurrently with the construction of the Ladies Bath, a Caretakers Lodge – to be used for the park Constable – and public sanitary conveniences for males and females have been erected at the same time.