Historic Pools Of Britain, a new national organisation representing the interests of Britain’s historic swimming pools and lidos, was launched in London last month.
Established to celebrate Britain’s swimming heritage and to put the spotlight on its contribution to the nation’s social and architectural history, the new national organisation will also seek to highlight the important role they continue to play in our communities today.
Many of the country’s heritage baths are in a fragile state. For example, there are 116 listed baths buildings, of which only 52 are operational or in the process of being refurbished. The efforts to save and preserve them are often in the hands of a few dedicated individuals, whose voices struggle to be heard.
Gill Wright, founder member and spokesperson for Historic Pools of Britain, led the campaign with the Friends of Victoria Baths, to save and campaign for one of the country’s finest examples of heritage baths buildings in Manchester: “This is an opportunity above all else to share our knowledge and experience through better connectivity between everyone involved in the rescue, restoration and running of historic swimming pools, from small community groups through to larger operating companies and local authorities.”
No formal public records, central database or archives currently exist to document the hundreds of historic swimming pool buildings in the UK and this, in time, will be an important role for the organisation. Initially the membership will benefit from networking, campaigning and lobbying, the potential for joint funding applications and support at regional and national levels.