Teresa Read is a woman on a mission. For the past five years, she and her business partner, Berkley Driscoll, have been reviving major landmarks and events in Twickenham and Richmond, including the Richmond Ice Rink and the Charlie Shore Regatta. The long-lost Twickenham Lido is another in their sights.
Their organisation, Twickenham Alive, came about when, as trustees of the Richmond Environmental Information Centre (REIC), they applied for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2011 for a project on Twickenham Riverside.
“We thought of lots of names, and then I suddenly thought ‘What about Twickenham Alive?’” said Mrs Read, when I met her this week. “It turned out to be a fantastic name, because it said what we do. We try and bring back things that Twickenham has lost.”
The first event they revived was the Charlie Shore Regatta, a boat race for young people. Originally founded in 1894 and last held in the 1950s, the regatta coincided with Richmond borough’s popular Great River Race. The weekend event on Twickenham’s riverside was a huge success. “We had stalls, we had a funfair, and thousands of people came,” recalled Mrs Read.
Another of Twickenham Alive’s successes has been the Richmond Rink, set up in the grounds of Strawberry Hill House over Christmas. Memories of the rink, which once stood on the banks of the Thames in Richmond, have been captured in The Most Famous Ice Rink in the World, a book written by Mrs Read, Mr Driscoll and their colleague David Lane. It took four years for REIC to raise the money for the book, but the response had been overwhelming, she said.
They would now like to produce a DVD, drawing on all the old video footage of the rink that people have been sending in from across the country.
The great achievement of Twickenham Alive has been bringing the local community together. Its Film Festival, encouraging young people to produce videos on their local area, is in its fourth successful year. “It’s also a way of promoting the borough,” she said.
Its latest campaign—to bring back a lido complex to central Twickenham—has attracted more than 2,600 supporters. I asked Mrs Read if it were likely to come to fruition. “We hope so—we’ve got the funding for it,” she told me. “Two companies have put in funding for the whole multi-million pound offer to develop the rest of the riverside. We have put forward an offer to the council.”
Mrs Read is self-effacing about her work to bring back events from Twickenham’s past and emphasises that she is one half of the driving force. “Berkley Driscoll is my partner in this. We have a very creative working relationship.”
Long may the pair come up with new ideas and keep Twickenham truly alive. Wandering around modern-day Twickenham, it is comforting to know that some of its greatest historical assets will not be forgotten or lost any time soon.
By Ella Targett, The Lady Eleanor Holles School