Designed by architect A.B. McDonald, Govanhill Baths opened in 1917 and is now an art space with three pools, a Turkish suite, a place to bathe and a space to wash clothes. There are plans to one day make it a health centre. This unusual venue has quite the story. In March 2001, the city council abruptly closed Govanhill Baths without consulting the public or the pool users. The closure brought a large amount of protesters to the site, which was occupied from spring to summer until the police forcibly removed the protesters and boarded the building.
The community quickly organized and lobbied to save the pool. In January 2005, the Govanhill Bath Charitable Trust was constituted with a long-term plan to convert the baths into a health and wellbeing centre. For 11 years, the baths lay derelict until the space opened again, in 2012. As the search for funding continued, the baths were turned into an alternative venue and acted as a quirky locale for all kinds of events: ceilidhs to arts festivals, theater plays to pop-up dinners, weddings, concerts and screenings. The space is gigantic, the atmosphere eerie and breathes endless creative possibilities.
After a period of uncertainty, the future is looking bright for Govanhill Baths—in 2015, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the Govanhill Baths Community Trust with £1.2 million, which will enable the beginnings of a long-term restoration project. The GHCT has so far reached £3.3 million of their £4 million target. They’re on a good track to restore two pools, the Turkish suite and build a theatre venue and an arts space.