Pontypridd lido plan 'will bring visitors to town'

Pontypridd lido
Image caption Divers perform in the opening ceremony of the lido in 1927

The reopening of a Grade II-listed lido in Pontypridd will help bring people back into the town, it is claimed.

Detailed plans for the lido, which was built in 1927 but closed over 20 years ago, are on display until Saturday.

They include three new pools, a cafe, learning spaces and restoration of the original buildings.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council says the £4m scheme, part of the ongoing regeneration of the town, will boost visitor numbers.

The open air swimming pool once accommodated up to 1,000 people in its heyday but fell into decline in the 1980s and eventually closed in 1991.

The council drew up initial restoration plans four years ago and secured £75,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2010 to further develop the project.

A bid for more lottery cash is expected to be made in the spring which, if successful, would provide the bulk of the funding, alongside other sources such as Welsh heritage body Cadw and RCT council itself.

Brian Davies, secretary of Pontypridd Historical Society, said the challenge was to retain the original character of the lido while making it appealing to a modern visitor.

"The architect thought 'let's create a Roman baths for the people of Pontypridd' - single-storey buildings, red pantile roofs, verandas. You look at reconstructions of [Roman] Caerleon and it's like that," he said.

"I don't see any reason why a building like that can't be saved and, at the same time, successfully adapted.

"It would give the reopened lido a real character, more so than if it was flattened and rebuilt.

"The original idea of giving the people of Pontypridd a Roman baths seems to me to be a nice idea."

When built, the lido featured a swimming pool, diving area, bath gallery and changing rooms.

It is one of the few listed lidos in the United Kingdom and said to be one of the earliest and best preserved.

The redevelopment includes the refurbishment and remodelling of original features such as the changing cubicles, which would have numbered painted wooden doors.

An area would also be provided for visitors to learn about the history of the lido and the surrounding area.

Image caption The lido, which opened in 1927, has not been used since 1991

"Many elements of the original form of the lido still exist and provide the potential to restore this ageing facility into a working pool, community facility and regional attraction once again," the council said in its latest plans.

"The lido is fondly remembered by all generations who used it and restoration of this unique facility will secure the protection of this heritage for the people of Pontypridd and for future generations.

"Restoration of the lido will increase the quality, attractiveness and desirability of the park for a wider audience and, in turn, will help to boost visitor numbers and the viability of the wider town."

The scheme is part of a major regeneration of Pontypridd to improve the look of the market town and help it attract more private investment.

Building work is also continuing to replace the town's rundown Taff Vale precinct with a modern shopping centre, anchored by high street chain Wilkinson.

The town centre regeneration plans, including the lido scheme, are on display at 23 Taff Street on Saturday, 10 March (10:00 to 13:00 GMT) oror they can be viewed online.

Image caption The redevelopment would include a heated 25m pool, a heated activity pool and a splash pool

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