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Latitude: 55.8549 / 55°51'17"N
Longitude: -4.2163 / 4°12'58"W
OS Eastings: 261361
OS Northings: 664630
OS Grid: NS613646
Mapcode National: GBR 0VN.CY
Mapcode Global: WH4QF.63HD
Entry Name: Former Public Baths and Washhouse, 75- 89 Whitevale Street, Glasgow
Listing Date: 23 March 1992
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 377507
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB33658
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Calton
Traditional County: Lanarkshire
Glasgow Office of Public Works, A B McDonald, City Surveyor, with William Sharp, assistant. Opened 17 May 1902. Baroque style, former swimming baths and washhouse, with 3-storey, 5-bay centre block 2-storey, 3-bay flanking wings. Main elevation to Whitevale Street symmetrical; central bays with two canopied and consoled doors, inscription 'Whitevale Baths' over first floor central window and gable at apex with carved arms of Glasgow. Red brick with polished red sandstone ashlar dressings and details and polished terrazzo below cill course of ground floor.
Base course, ground floor cill course, string course, first floor cill course, eaves course with similar arrangement to third floor. Parapet with curvilinear details. Plain pilasters between bays. Ionic colonnaded ground floor; wide segmental arched keystoned windows to first floor.
Original small pane metal glazing where visible. Exterior windows largely boarded up. Replacement roofing materials. Block with chimney to East John Street demolished, (see Notes).
INTERIOR: (See Notes). Top-lit men's pool with white tiled walls with coloured horizontal bands. Decorative metal roof trusses.
The former Whitevale Street Baths has a large and impressive principal elevation and it is a good example of Edwardian civic architecture and it makes an important contribution to this area of the city. It is a good example of a rare building type as only a handful of swimming baths from this era now survive.
Whitevale Baths is unusual for number of reasons. The building formerly included a library and reading room which was funded by a bequest from the will of John Rankin (1815-1897) who had made his fortune as a spirit dealer in Glasgow, so that by the 1890s he was able to live on 'private means'. The presence of the library and reading room is representative of social reform, providing an enlightened approach to recreational activities to improve both the mind as well as the body.
Whitevale Baths was designed to be versatile as both the mens and the womens pools could be drained and converted to become temporary public halls. When finished, the building had a gymnasium fitted out with the most current appliances, a Turkish bath and slipper baths for men and women which were divided into first and second classes. Much of the features have since been lost. Whitevale Baths was by far the most expensive facilities of their type in Glasgow. The baths cost the Corporation over £35,000, almost double the cost of others, for example those at Maryhill (see separate listing). However Whitevale was the largest baths in Glasgow until 1914, having 34 private baths for men and 66 washing stalls.
Swimming clubs and bath houses were established in Scotland from the 1850s following the enactment of the 1846 Act to Encourage the Establishment of Public Baths and Wash-houses, which was established to improve general public health with access for all classes of citizen. With the rapid expansion of urban population, often living and working in unsanitary conditions, bath and wash houses were seen as essential public services. The Act encouraged local authorities to open such facilities in areas of dense population. While women would have had their own separate entrance, they would have to attend at certain times when the male pools were not in use. It would not be until the 1870s when separate ladies pools were considered in bath and wash house design. These bath and wash houses soon started to cater for recreational swimming rather than washing and became a hugely popular social past time during the 20th century.
List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).
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