Thames Lido, Reading
Built in 1902, the Reading Lido had stood derelict for 40 years on its site beside the Thames in King’s Meadow, a large open park in central Reading. Like the Clifton Lido before it, the building required substantial refurbishment, much of the existing roof timberwork and a fair bit of the brickwork being seriously damaged by years of water ingress.
Planning and Listed building applications were dealt with quickly and supportively by Reading Borough Council and work on repairs began in winter 2014. Within the existing building the repair work was extensive, and a new fabric was constructed; there was also an extension added to the West. The new and old combine to accommodate a restaurant, pool and spa facilities and function room.
The extension was made possible by the removal from the flood plain of the existing (and extremely unlovely) playing field’s changing rooms. A replacement building, outside the flood plain has been built next to Napier Road, a rather more suitable and convenient location next to the car park.
Thames Lido itself has a new dedicated car park from which a newly planted avenue of trees leads to the restored octagon entrance. Like the Clifton Lido, the spa has its own entrance and reception, the restaurant and function room being separately accessed from King’s Meadow Road to the west.
Also like the Clifton Lido, the existing building is entirely screened from the outside by a surrounding wall; it was originally the Ladies Swimming Bath. Inside the wall, the pool was surrounded by open roof spaces which are being adapted to the new Lido uses. Traditional poolside changing rooms remain. New openings on the river side afford glimpses of the interior to boaters passing through the lock.
During the repairs, the newly enclosed areas have been insulated and the north and west side enveloped in new construction. All rainwater is collected in large below ground tanks thus greatly reducing water usage and costs. The building has been completely re-roofed as has the tiled south range; behind its parapet wall a south facing slope has a large evacuated tube solar thermal array to help reduce energy use and costs.
The hope is that the restoration of this delightful and ideosyncratic building can secure its future for many years to come.