Great Engineering of the Kings Meadow Baths alongside the Thames

Great Engineering of the Kings Meadow Baths alongside the Thames

Above picture “Allens of Reading”  who made the iron columns

1903 (quote)
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.

The Lodge and Meadow.
Great engineering - the LodgeThe Lodge consists of a parlour, kitchen, scullery, coal house and W.C. on the ground floor, with three bedrooms on the first floor.Large gatherings take place from time to time in the King Meadow’s recreation ground, and on occasions in the past the Corporation have had to construct temporary latrines at considerable cost. The erection of these buildings will avoid this expenses in the future.Separate accommodation has been provided for the Ladies, access to such accommodation being given from the King’s Meadow and the Recreation Ground.These buildings have been erected, relieved with stone dressings, and in appearance are an ornamental addition to the ground.The plans of the Lodge and conveniences were prepared and the work carried out under the superintendance of the Engineer and Borough Surveyor. The Contractor for these was Mr McCarthy Fitt of Reading and the total costs of the works wa £1240.The work of raising the level of the ground in the neighbourhood of the Ladies Swimming Bath, Lodge etc. is now quickly proceeding, as it is intended to raise  the ground floor around these buildings above flood level. Editor’s note – a great testament to this is the picture below taken in 2014! The work of the general planting and fencing off around the building is also in progress.

Great engineering - the great floods 2014
HIGH AND DRY  Great testament to the quote above and great engineering of the Kings Meadow Baths in 1902. The great floods of 2014



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Anne Green Jessel

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.