Coley Open Air Baths County Borough Corporation Swimming Baths for Men
Coley Open Air Baths were the home to the famous Winter Bathers of Reading in 1894 who’s age range spreads widely. The picture belongs to Mr George Pullens family. Mr Pullen is seen here second from the left, front row. The picture left could well have been taken at Coley. The sluice gate wheel is familiar.
The feature image is a reproduced image from “Galant Man” on Facebook 2017. A long awaited picture of the Coley Open Air baths!…thankyou.
A little imagination of the pool needs to be applied from descriptions received!
Looking down on the pool from the exaggerated (yellow) Berkeley Avenue Bridge
leading towards “The Lane” now Rose Kiln Lane, the pool covered the site of Thames Water yard.
It was open air, no cubicles with a couple of diving boards. It was enclosed in a dark green fencing but you could look down into it from the Berkeley Avenue. The water was pumped in from the brook. The water flowed through from the deep end to the shallow – a safety measure. The bottom and some of the sides of the bath were covered with slimy river weed, but the water was fairly clear. It could be seen 300 yards from the bridge. It was the biggest pool in Reading, being 200 feet in length. Thanks to Mrs Colleen Thatcher and Mr A.R. Colyer for their notes.
The unheated Coley Open Air Baths started out as Mens bathing only but became a mixed bathing centre in the late 30s where many schools used the facility for teaching children to swim.
It seems bathers either loved it or hated it, and the latter appears to win the vote.
OUTCOME: Coley Open Air Baths was closed sometime in the 1970’s. Once surrounded by allotments and open fields, the area is now built up with housing and apartment blocks. The surrounding site of the pool is covered with terraced multi storey housing with the Thames Water offices and buildings beyond – Rose Kiln Avenue running alongside.
Eager for knowledge way back in 1974 particularly about these two Baths.
Tilehurst Baths – 1920s
Another elusive Bath regarding information. Again visualisation is achieved by descriptions only.
Marked in red are Connaught Road (R) and Belmont Road (L) Extreme left was the former Crown Court Building now Apartments.
The “green domed area” used to be the canteen site for Crown Court. The encircled residence”Kentons” was where Mrs Annie King lived early 20th century, who happened to be a Baths Superintendent according to Kelly’s directory. Judging from the description below I guess the spot where the Baths used to be – green dome – is about correct, the former Crown Court canteen site.
“The swimming baths were built along to the southern side of Tilehurst Road in Reading, approximately opposite between the ends of Connaught Road and Belmont Road.” Mr Roger Searing quotes from “Down Memory Lane”….
“This was the coldest and most unpleasant swimming area I have experienced. Naturally, there was no mixed public bathing in the twenties and it seems that the designers of swimming baths went beyond reason in order to acquire privacy. Tilehurst Baths were entirely enclosed and the glass canopy was of deep green glass ensuring that no sunlight ever warmed the interior. All paintwork was green and every word one spoke had a hollow echo. Rarely were there many bathers there, which was not surprising as it was so cold and it’s hard to believe that anyone enjoyed learning to swim there.”
OUTCOME : Artillery Mews stands on the site
Please, anymore hints?!