Local community group fight to protect and restore historic building and pool

Woolton Swimming Baths, Quarry Street South, Liverpool

date Action is ongoing

Liverpool City Council decided to close down Woolton Baths in October 2010, due to maintenance costs. They maintain the total cost for the work required amounts to around £120,000.
Following months of negotiations, the council finally agreed, in 2013, to lease the baths for 12 months to the Woolton Village Residents Company, alongside Save Woolton Pool Fund, to enable them access and allow them to begin renovations and repairs the building.
The baths were opened in 1893 and for over a century served the local community; previous users include John Lennon, Paul McCartney and 2004 Olympic Bronze medallist Steve Parry. They were provided by the wealthy Woolton resident and philanthropist, Holbrook Gaskell JP. In 1891, on the condition that the local council would pay for the maintenance. Gaskell’s main objective was to ‘to bring a sanitary institution within the reach and the means of the labouring classes of the village and neighbourhood’ (Historic England) and to be available to either gender. Much Woolton local council accepted Gaskell’s offer and Manchester Architects Horton and Bridgeforth were appointed the architects, who had previously designed both Widnes Baths (1879) and the Grade II listed Victoria Salt Water Baths (1871) in Southport. Historic England reported that ‘Like other swimming baths at the time, the pool water at Woolton was only changed once a week, and therefore admissions were charged accordingly, with the cheapest rate being at the end of the week when the water was the dirtiest.’ In 1910, the decision was taken to floor over the pool in the winter months, when it was too cold to open, which allowed the local community to use the building for events and meetings. In 1913, Much Woolton Parish was absorbed into Liverpool city council and so the responsibility for the baths maintenance changed hands. More importantly, up until the baths closure in 2010, the pool was predominantly the home to Woolton Swimming club, founded in 1893.
Woolton Village Residents Company and Save Woolton Pool group have been holding fundraising events and campaigning to re-open the pool and also create a local history and community centre for residents and visitors. Their first major success came when the baths were designated Grade II listed in 2012. The designation was due to architectural interest; ‘It displays a good level of architectural detailing externally, most notably in the striking Baroque Revival entrance.

Image (pending permission) http://www.britishbeatlesfanclub.co.uk/2013/07/celebrating-120th-birthday-of-woolton.html