I visited the Bon Accord Baths today: a previously council-run indoor swimming pool in central Aberdeen, constructed in the 1930s in Art Deco style. The council closed the pool in 2008 and since then the building has become derelict. The council tried to sell it in 2015 and amid a public outcry at potentially losing this piece of heritage, a community group was formed with the aim to resurrect the baths and eventually open it to the public for swimming again.
The building has a category B listing which means it is important architecturally as a fine example of Art Deco Scottish public baths. I have always been quite fond of Art Deco with its slick straight lines, flat roofs, curved walls. It feels a bit 1930s Hollywood glamour to me.
The Bon Accord baths did not disappoint from the wood panelled entranceway to the enormous cathedral swimming pool room. The outside is very austere, even by Aberdeen’s standards.
As soon as you walk inside the steely cold of the facade is replaced with warm and glamorous blond sycamore timber panelling.
The main cathedral hall is stunning.
There’s a diving platform at the deep end.
Timber seating for spectators.
They don’t build places like this any more which is all the more reason to preserve it for future generations.
There are several large rooms in the building some of which were previously used as gyms for exercise.
There are also private baths. Evidently locals used to come and wash here before it became the norm for houses to have bathrooms. I find that amazing. We take having our own bathrooms for granted these days but once upon a time people had to wash in places like this. The bath was actually lovely and big.
There are also some showers and I was amused by the sign outside the door on one of them which says, “Total time allowed in spray cubicle 20 minutes”.
One of the volunteers told me the water temperature controls for the private bathing cubicles are just outside the cubicles which meant people had to call out from inside and ask someone to “turn the temperature down” for them or vice versa.
There’s still so much work to be done to bring the building back to a functioning public swimming pool but the volunteers have done a lot already. This is how it looked just over a year ago.
If you’re in Aberdeen or nearby, they’re open to the public again tomorrow from 10am to 4pm. It’s definitely worth checking out. You can also donate to the cause via the Go Fund Me page. They need £150,000. There’s also a website with more information at http://bonaccordbaths.org.uk.