Pontypridd Lido's £6million Restoration Going Ahead

Posted on Monday 18th February 2013
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Cllr Paul Cannon with Cllr Robert Bevan at the lido site

Restoration of one the UK’s largest and most historic lidos in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, Pontypridd will go ahead thanks to the tireless efforts of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

Today Deputy Minister for European programmes Alun Davies announced that £3million from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government will be made available to restore the derelict Grade II listed lido.

The new attraction will not only create more local jobs but attract tens of thousands of visitors to Pontypridd town centre which is currently undergoing a £10.5million regeneration project.

The £6.3million project to restore the iconic building will be made possible thanks to additional funding of £2.3M from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £900,000 from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, as well as a contribution from Cadw.

Leader of the Council Cllr Anthony Christopher said: “We have worked tirelessly to make this a reality and news of the funding offer from the Welsh Government is the best we could possibly wish for.

“Now we can totally refurbish the much-loved lido and make it a first-class facility for the 21st century,. This project, coupled with the massive regeneration project in the town centre itself along with other public and private sector investment programmes means that Pontypridd is benefiting from the largest cash injection in its history.

“The refurbished lido will create a regional tourist attraction bringing tens of thousands of visitors to Pontypridd. It will also create jobs directly in the lido itself, and have economic benefits for local businesses.

“Our aim is to strengthen the effectiveness of the investment already being made in Pontypridd, through the various public and private sector led regeneration schemes. Undoubtedly this will also act as a catalyst for further future regeneration activity in Pontypridd.”

The project will include restoring and remodeling the Lido with three heated swimming pools that offers maximum flexibility to accommodate different age groups and facilitate a varied and fun activities programme. It will also include a café and a state-of-the-art dry adventure play area.

The restoration, which is due for completion in summer 2015, will include new features such as external covered showers, heated changing facilities and a learning centre and museum, permanently depicting the history of the Lido and the wider park. 

A designated learning space will be used by a variety of school and community groups, as well as being available for hire for meetings and training activities by local organisations.

Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to invest EU funds to help restore this unique landmark which will create employment and social opportunities for the local community and attract visitors to Pontypridd and beyond, bringing further economic benefits to the region.”

The project will involve:

  • Restoring the historic grade II listed lido to a high standard.
  • Restoring the lido’s historic features, such as the original turnstiles, and wooden cubicles
  • Reopen the lido as a heated facility, with three pools for different uses: a main pool, an activities pool, and an attractive semi circular paddling pool for small children.
  • Provide free entry for children aged 12 or under and accompanying adult 
  • Construct a high quality café to serve both the lido and wider park.
  • Construct a visitor interpretation space, viewing gallery, and classroom/meeting facility, which can act as a hub for community learning and volunteering opportunities  
  • Construct a new changing block in line with modern expectations.
  • Create a state of the art adventure dry play facility open year round.

Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Cllr Paul Cannon said: “We are overjoyed with the news of the funding for the lido project which complements the EU-backed Town Centre Regeneration project as well as improvements being made to the railway station.

“We have listened carefully to the views of the community in developing these plans and our aim is to create an environment that attracts visitors, benefits business and where communities can prosper.”

Built in 1927 in an arts and crafts style the lido has a distinctive Mediterranean influence and, with its swimming pool, bath gallery and changing rooms the lido complex is unusually large, accommodating up to 1000 people in its heyday.

During the post-war years the lido remained a popular attraction for the local community but by the early 1980s the complex fell into decline and was closed in 1991.

Owen Smith MP said: “At a time when councils across Britain are facing massive budget cuts and are closing leisure centres and other much loved institutions in order to maintain vital services for children, the elderly and the most vulnerable, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is trying to both improve core services and invest in new  facilities for our community, including the £6m restoration of the Pontypridd baths.“

The restoration of the Lido will create a regional tourist attraction for Pontypridd, strengthening community ownership, encouraging local pride and contributing to the economy of the town centre and its wider communities.

Mick Antoniw AM added: “I fully welcome the funding announcement for the regeneration of the treasured Lido. It is important that we recognise the valued hard work and effort that our local council have put into achieving and securing the money for the preservation of such an important asset.

“Other improvements to the Town Centre such as the development of the Brown Lennox site and other on-going projects the regeneration of the Lido is a vital step forward for the regeneration of Pontypridd area.”

Streetscape improvements are a key part of the £10.5M Pontypridd Town Centre Regeneration project, and are currently reaching the final stages. This significant investment into the streetscape and townscape is taking place following the Council securing financial support from the Welsh Government through the European Regional Development Fund and Targeted Match Funding, alongside Council and private sector contributions. 

It is being delivered alongside a host of other public and private sector investment programmes including the opening of the new Sainsbury’s store on the Brown Lenox site, the restoration of Pontypridd Museum and the multi-million pound refurbishment of Pontypridd Railway Station

For further details visit the Regeneration section of www.loveponty.com|

Further Details:

  • Pontypridd expanded rapidly during the 19th Century with the dramatic growth of the coal industry. Increasing recognition of the need to provide recreational facilities for local workers and the prosperity brought by industry, led to the establishment of an Edwardian-style park along the banks of the river Taff. Ynysangharad War Memorial Park opened in 1923, dedicated to the fallen of the First World War and includes a number of ornamental features, a bandstand, sunken garden, specimen trees and traditional flower beds.
  • In 1927, the Lido was added in the west of the park with support principally from the Miners' Welfare Fund. The rectangular shaped central pool with rounded corners and a semi-circular diving pit projection was considered to be one of the largest open air swimming pools constructed in Wales. Its unique shape was designed to allow mixed bathing with two shallow ends, one for males and one for females, each sloping down to a common deep water area.
  • Outdoor swimming and bathing in rivers and lakes has long been a feature of life in the UK. In the late 17th/early 18th century, the health benefits associated with this pursuit gained increasing prominence leading to the establishment of a number of purpose-built swimming pools. The 1846 Baths and Wash-Houses Act also promoted 'open bathing places' in its provisions and by 1900, a number of cities had opened outdoor swimming pools.
  • The new outdoor lidos were deliberately classless and allowed mixed bathing, signalling a break from the constraints of the Victorian past and enabling the flourishing of a new 'municipal modernity' in the 1930s. The architecture of this was symbolic of the 'cult of sunlight' employing white surfaces, flat roofs for sunbathing and large areas of glazing. The Lido at Pontypridd was constructed just before the height of 'Modernist' lido architecture in the 1930s but the 'Italianate/Mediterranean' influence is clearly discernable.
  • The term ‘Lido’ comes from the historic Lido, Venice; they are designed for activities around water where people can bathe, sunbathe and relax.