Western Baths Club

A long-established swimming club situated on the west side of Cranworth Street in the Hillhead district of Glasgow, Western Baths Club lies 1½ miles (2.5 km) northwest of the city centre. Italianate in style, with Moorish influences, the building appears like a grand villa constructed in yellow-buff sandstone and it mostly of one storey with a full-height basement and double-height central block. It dates from 1876-81 and was built to the designs of William Clark & George Bell at a cost of £20,000, clearly designed to outclass its successful competitor, the nearby Arlington Baths Club. The result is a rare example of an early private-members swimming club, surviving largely as it was built. The entrance is through an arched portico, which opens into a columned hall with a grand imperial stair, and the 27.5-m / 90-foot pool to the rear - the largest indoor swimming pool in Scotland when it opened. The architect John Keppie (1862 - 1945) was commissioned to make alterations c. 1908, and a novel filtration system was installed in the 1930s which continued in use until 1988. Many original fittings survive inside, including polychromatic tiling and hanging rings, and a trapeze, above the pool.

The Baths offered patrons a unique and relaxing escape from daily life. Although women were permitted access, this was only during strictly limited hours. The number of female members soon exceeded the males and they demanded greater access and longer sessions, although mixed bathing was not allowed until 1965. Today, facilities include the cathedral-like pool, Turkish and Russian baths, sports hall, a gym, exercise studio, several saunas, a steam room, bar and bistro. Members enjoy reciprocal arrangements with the similarly-historic Drumsheugh Baths Club in Edinburgh.

The Western Baths were given a Category-B listing in 1970 owing to their historical and architectural importance. This was upgraded to an 'A' listing in 2013.

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