The Riverside site on which the old open air swimming pool stands was bought by Twickenham Council in 1924. The purchase was made by means of a loan from and under the official sanction of the Ministry of Health, for the express purpose of providing public walks and pleasure grounds. The land remained a public open space until the open air pool was opened in 1935. The pool and grounds continued to be enjoyed by the public until they were closed for “refurbishment” in the late 1970s. They have remained closed since that date although the caretaker’s house and cafe have been rented to voluntary organisations since 1982.
Twickenham Riverside Terrace
This scheme, now granted planning permission by the Council, is for a public park and children’s play area, with the present two-storey pool changing room structure reduced to a single storey building housing riverside facilities, such as a cafe, public toilets, boat hire, etc. At first floor level there will be a public terraced area with a balustrade overlooking the river, with a landscaped open public park behind, and additional tree planting. The old caretaker’s house and original cafe building will be retained for use by local voluntary organisations.
- This is a low-intensity scheme which will provide maximum public benefit from the site with minimum expenditure.
- It reflects the wishes of a large body of the public who voluntarily approached street meetings, viewed the proposals, and signed to support them.
- This scheme ensures that this beautiful and unique riverside site does not pass from public to private use. (Such a change could never be reversed.) And it permits its continued use by deserving community bodies.
- This scheme complies with the requirements of conservation bodies, including English Heritage and the Council’s own Conservation Advisory Committee. It also meets regulations governing development on the Thames Flood area.
- The overriding aim is to ensure that this riverside land, purchased on behalf of and held in trust for the people of Twickenham by the Council, remains wholly for public use.
- To make certain that the elected administration of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames honours that trust.
- To safeguard and enhance the special qualities of the wonderful riverside site, and in particular, to prevent inappropriate, over-intensive development being carried out.
In fact, it is very hard to believe that the people of Twickenham would wish to give away, sell, lease away for more than a century, or dispose of in any other ridiculous way the jewel at the centre of our town. In other words, the family silver is not for sale.
The way ahead
- Twickenham Riverside Terrace is a modest scheme, but money will be required for demolition, the landscaping, and simple building works. The Council may not be able to fully fund this project, but there are a number of alternative possibilities for funding. These are being actively investigated. These funds will be managed by a Charitable Trust.
- The project is run entirely by volunteers. A lot of work has been done so far and a great deal more will be needed to realise the Twickenham Riverside Terrace in its entirety. We need more volunteers. All sorts of different skills, experience and knowledge are needed, and all will be welcomed. However, even if you are not able to volunteer your time, it would be very helpful to let us know that you support the objectives of the Twickenham Riverside Terrace Project.