The Big Lottery Fund has awarded Govanhill Baths Community Trust (GBCT) a development grant of £34k to take forward Phase 1 of their scheme to refurbish the Govanhill Baths. The award means that GBCT can now further develop its future plans for the project.
GBCT has appointed The Prince’s Regeneration Trust as project manager to oversee the work at the site and the development of an ambitious programme of community engagement activities. Working with the Board of GBCT, this will lead to the appointment of a design team and a full Business Plan, which will help GBCT to work up and submit a further application for funding for the completion of Phase 1.
GBCT’s aim is to refurbish the Baths as a wellbeing centre. This is a comprehensive response to the call for better individual and community health facilities in the area, which GBCT identified through significant community consultation research in 2009. Critical to this vision of a wellbeing centre is a holistic concept of restoration and regeneration for the wider Govanhill community. Through the project GBCT wants to achieve crime prevention, community cohesion, local economic growth and employment opportunities.
The Baths are undoubtedly an important part of Glasgow’s history and cultural development. Built in 1914-17 and designed by A.B. MacDonald, they provided swimming pools, public baths and a steam laundry where local people could come to wash their clothes and talk. There are also slipper baths, which are individual baths that could be hired to wash in.
Listed at Category B in 1992, the Baths were still used as originally intended until 2001 as a valued facility open to all members of the community. Their closure became a symbol of the perception of decline in the area.
With GBCT’s involvement, the front suite of the baths have been reopen for community use since February 2012 and some aspects of the Baths are already being well-used. The toddlers’ pool will reopen in early April and the main pool is being used as a theatre and event space. Film classes, photography exhibitions, arts and crafts courses, and even money-saving workshops have all been held at the Baths. Some 40 different local, national private, local authority and third sector organisations have used or rented these facilities since the opening in 2012.
Andrew Johnson, Chair of GBCT, says: ‘This award is in every sense the culmination of 13 years of struggle. Light is now being seen at the end of the tunnel for sure and we are delighted that The Prince’s Regeneration Trust is now joining us. Being able to stick to the task over these years is a testimony to all those volunteers, Friends, Board Members and supporters who in so many ways have ensured we stayed on course. The struggle has been against many odds and the major driving force has always been that we knew, in spite of its closure back in 2001, that it was right to protect both the historical legacy of this grand old Grade B listed Edwardian swimming pool and the plans of our Glasgow Corporation forbearers who built it back in 1914/17. The struggle has not just been about a swimming pool, it has been about the right of a community to participate in decisions that affect its everyday life and wellbeing.’
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, says: ‘Govanhill Baths is an important local asset, which for more than 10 years has held huge untapped potential. It’s wonderful to hear that it has received the recognition and support it deserves as an important local asset through this Big Lottery Fund grant.
‘Govanhill Baths Community Trust has already worked so hard and done so much towards safeguarding the future of the building; we’re delighted to be appointed project manager and to be working with them. Together we will now press on towards seeing this building and the facilities have real significance once again for the local area and become a catalyst for economic and social change.’