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Forfar Swimming Pool and Boundary Wall, the Vennel, Forfar

A Category C Listed Building in Forfar, Angus

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Latitude: 56.6435 / 56°38'36"N

Longitude: -2.8881 / 2°53'16"W

OS Eastings: 345635

OS Northings: 750543

OS Grid: NO456505

Mapcode National: GBR VM.4K3W

Mapcode Global: WH7QL.L8YT

Entry Name: Forfar Swimming Pool and Boundary Wall, the Vennel, Forfar

Listing Date: 14 January 2014

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 402081

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52162

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Forfar

County: Angus

Electoral Ward: Forfar and District

Parish: Forfar

Traditional County: Angus

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Hippolyte J Blanc, 1909-10; extended to SE by A Waterston, 1911; later additions to NW, SW and SE. Roughly 2-storey, irregular plan, Jacobean Renaissance public baths on steeply sloping site; 3-bay gable to NE (street) elevation with semicircular pediment with apex broken by pinnacle. Squared and snecked rubble masonry with red sandstone ashlar dressings; some brick elevations. Stone mullions. Predominantly shouldered gables.

NE (THE VENNEL) ELEVATION: gable to centre, with deep base course including narrow opening (now blind) to each bay; cill course to clerestory; string course at top of clerestory and to pediment; bays divided by square pilasters, those at centre topped by pinnacle; diamond-aligned and corbelled pilasters to pediment; round-arched and keystoned window at centre, flanked by bipartite windows. Bay to right of gable with narrow opening at ground floor and bipartite window above. Bay to right of gable with pair of small bipartite openings at ground floor and quadripartite window above.

SE (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: elevation consisting of advanced gable to right with gabled entrance porch, 1911 rectangular plan, brick addition to left of gable with late 20th century rendered lean-to and flatroofed brick addition to further right. 2-leaf panelled timber entrance doors with semi-circular geometrical fanlight set within roll-moulded and keystoned surround. Octagonal lantern to 1911 addition, with hungslates to base and finial to roof.

SW ELEVATION: single-storey, rectangular-plan, piended roof outshot to rear of baths; tooled, squared and snecked masonry; irregular openings; door to right return.

NW ELEVATION: gable to right; door with narrow opening to left and bipartite window above. 2-storey, rectangular-plan, piended roof outshot to right; cement rendered at ground floor with brick above and irregular fenestraion; squared and stugged masonry to left return with wide segmental arched opening at ground with doors.

Predominantly multi-pane glazing in timber windows. Predominantly pitched slate roof, terracotta ridge tiles; piended slate roofs to outshots.

INTERIOR: (seen 2012). Rectangular pool with three integral spittoons to length side; painted metal, arched roof trusses. Irregular plan entrance foyer, later entrance doors to inner porch with multi-pane rectangular fanlight; moulded timber door architraves, dentiled and moulded cornice; oval cupola. Interiors of later additions largely remodelled late 20th/early 21st century.

BOUNDARY WALL: Stepped and curved boundary wall adjoined to left gable of NE elevation, with stairs leading to raised entrance at SE elevation. Decorative cast-iron gate adjacent to entrance with cut-out inscription 'FPB'.

Statement of Interest

Good example of public baths by an eminent architect. The building retains some interesting original fixtures and fittings including the glazed ceramic spittoons to the pool. The Jacobean Renaissance stonework detailing, particularly its gable, make a significant contribution to the streetscape. The baths were gifted to the town by the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1919), who attended the official opening of the facility on October 4, 1910. As well as a public swimming pool, the rear section of the building originally contained bath tubs for public cleanliness, as at this time many modest homes still did not have a bathroom.

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, which affected the entirety of Britain, encouraged local authorities to open up these facilities in areas of dense population. 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.

Hippolyte Jean Blanc (1844-1917) was an eminent and prolific Edinburgh based architect who was perhaps best known for his Gothic revival churches. He was also a keen antiquarian and many of his buildings evoke an earlier Scottish style. The building was extended by the Burgh Surveyor, A Waterston.

Listed as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).

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