Arthur Hill Memorial Baths – Kings Road – Reading – 1911
A priceless jewel in the town – SOLD! but who to? much unrest in public gallery and ongoing 08/08/18
A priceless jewel for the population especially in the eastern side of the town – read updates at the end of the post.
A centenary memoir 1911
“At the heart of the story of the Baths stands an almost forgotten person – yet he was a most successful man at business, a great philanthropist and benefactor to Reading, and four times Mayor in the borough’s high Victorian heyday. The Man, The Mayor…Arthur Hill 1829 – 1909”
– quote from The Arthur Hill Memorial Baths 1911-2011 by the Friends of the Arthur Hill Memorial Baths.
Building land donated…
One of Arthur’s children Gertrude married Dr Jamieson Boyd Hurry, Historian of Reading Abbey, who later donated the site upon which the Baths were built.
The Baths serves the community of Reading and saw many aquatic clubs founded in the waters. Famous for its intense popularity and the basis of much sports success within the town.
The Baths were threatened in 2011 with the intention of keeping the facade. After much campaigning managed to pull through. Now sadly due to a cash strapped Reading Borough Council is now in great jeopardy. Ironically it comes at a time when Reading ‘s Central Pool is due for closure next year, (now closed), and before the intended dates, for TEMPORARY pools to be installed within Palmer Park (eastern end of town) and Rivermeade Leisure Centre (west of town). Palmer Park not materialised. One has to keep the future of aquatic sport an unknown entity at present.
With the passing of Arthur Hill Memorial Baths there will be a hole left re swimming and poolside diving facilities[…]
Central Pool a recent closure and a pool sorely missed
…The Council couldn’t time it better for the loss of a wonderful pool that has served the people of Reading.
Could it be a similar story as Kings Meadow Baths that was left to rot before and since its closure in 1974? Kept from the bulldozers by the Campaigners and at least held onto it by achieving Grade II Heritage Listing. Much to the disappointment of RBC!
Campaigning to the limits has begun to hold onto this part of Reading Heritage – which sadly has very little left nowadays.
I wish the Campaigners every good wish in this endeavour. We must not lose these Baths. AGJ
The Council grilled by the people of Reading.
Qs and As Here NEWS getreading. Good reading.
Originally the site was intended as a Gymnasium Club and Rifle Club…but it was proposed as a swimming site as an alternative and the Memorial Baths it became.
The ceremonial opening
This took place on 29th November 1911 attended by the Mayor JW Martin and Councillors. Dr Hurry officially handed over the deeds of the property and Mayor accepted them on behalf of the community of Reading.
Races began in earnest between Reading Swimming Club and the Elementary Schools Swimming Association. There were many other events including demonstration of Life Saving Skills and diving displays.
PC Charles Hobson was the star of the Opening. He dived from the top board to swim a whole length in complete police uniform.
Swimming clubs and Schools Instruction moved from Kings Meadow Open Air Baths soon afterwards (1912). Swimming from then on would benefit from all round year practises plus enjoyment facilities for the general public.
However, 1920 saw the closing of the pool between every October and April, due to reduced patronage and heating costs. The slipper baths however continued in use. Winter closure was discontinued in 1935 and it was agreed it would be heated all year round. Many of the local schools around could be seen marching crocodile style towards the fun, and swimming lessons.
Patronage grew and grew
Regular sessions were held by the Police Athletic Club, Reading Biscuit Factory, the University and YMCA. Sub Aqua, Water Polo and Lifesaving clubs as well as Reading Swimming Club and continued their loyalty to Arthur Hill Baths.
I believe a young John Madjeski (presenter of Reading Madjeski Football Stadium and past Chairman of Reading Royals Football Club ) became a member of the Youth Squad under direction of Mr. Charles Burt – “Mr Swimming of Berkshire.”
Charlie also was responsible for teaching swimming as part of the schools curriculum, starting at Kings Meadow Open Air Baths initially. During recent years Arthur Hill Baths even housed a water skiing tank at the end of the building.
Reading boasted four facilities around 1918.
Kings Meadow Baths (KM also found on http://www.kingsmeadowbaths.org.uk) and here at
Arthur Hill Memorial Baths.
Plus River swimming in Lidos at
Freebody’s and Cawstons.
All facilities were used until Central Pool was built 1966. One by one they closed down apart from Arthur Hill Memorial Baths until the present situation 2016 with Central Pool closing 2017! Now CLOSED. 31st January 2018.
Dimensions were 30ft x 90 ft small glazed tiling and six individual hot baths.
Curtained dark wood dressing boxes aligned the sides of the pool with viewing galleries above.
The baths had a diving stage and a springboard but these were removed in 1959. Long gone is the basement laundry with mangles and drying “horses.”
Arthur Hill Memorial Baths has moved through the ages, a hub for recreation, health, enjoyment, fun and competition purposes. Lets hope it lives through more ages.
Media Releases – sent by Philip Vaughan. More on Lido News
Dolphin SC for the Disabled to be hit hard if Swimming Pool Closes
“The Council wants to override the wishes of the Reading People to whom the Baths were originally donated…
If the baths close “it will be a wretched finale”
THE STORY of its fight for its survival
03/12/2018 UPDATE “Who bought our Baths”
14/04/2018 Arthur Hill Memorial Baths – “Stand up for swimming in Reading”
SIGN PETITION Reading Borough Council have whipped away our two main swimming pools. No plans to replace despite promises.
07/11/17 Light up Arthur Hill Baths . The campaigners will not give in. Boarded up, cold and forlorn it may be, but it is not forgotten.
18/09/17 The Campaigners will NOT give up. They will give Reading Borough Council a good contest.
Recent Arthur Hill Press Release
30/06/17 Pool threatened with Housing Plans
30/04/17 Latest Campaigners Report.
Staying in Touch
10/04/17 Reading Borough Coucil give no chances to the Campaigners
ARTHUR HILL BATHS RELEASE FUN DAY ARRANGED…
to thank all those fighting for the cause. The event will take place on Thursday 2nd March, 7.30-10pm, at the Warehouse Community Centre, 1a Cumberland Road. All supporters in the local community and wider are invited to attend
COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY SUCCESSFUL RECOGNITION FOR ARTHUR HILL CAMPAIGN
Campaigners to save the Arthur Hill Memorial Pool in East Reading have succeeded in registering a new Community Interest Company to take forward the fight to re-open the historic pool. The creation of this CIC, named the ‘Arthur Hill – Save Our Swimming Community Interest Company’, gives the campaign the official legal.
NEW YEAR PLANS NEW YEAR PLANS FOR ARTHUR HILL CAMPAIGN
Another Community Meeting is to be held in east Reading in the next few weeks, to endorse the business plan for the continuing ‘Arthur Hill – Save our Swimming (S.O.S.)’ campaign.
The meeting will be open to all residents in the community as well as users of the Arthur Hill Pool and Gym. It follows successful Community Meetings held in October and November 2016.
For more information please contact:
Philip Vaughan: 0118 9662207
Peter Burt: 0118 958 8281 or 07790 409339
Visit our website at arthur-hill.org.uk or find us on Facebook page at Facebook.com/SaveArthurHill
A glance at more pools indoors and out. Click onwards!