30 July 2007
Note: There’s an update to this page, with larger photographs. Remember Barbican Baths? (2015)
The swimming baths next to the Barbican centre were demolished this summer. For everyone in the area around here who enjoys going swimming, the demolition of this building must have a major impact. Personally I’ve not been to a swimming baths since I was at school, when I had to. I hated swimming lessons, and being able to see part of the interior of these baths as demolition opened the building to the skies reminded me of just how much I hated them.
Still, each to their own, and of course other people will have fond memories of the baths.
In fact, via a quick Google search – isn’t the internet brilliant – I’ve found a perfect reminiscence on the Barbican baths on another site, and recommend this in preference to my vague waffle.
I’ve looked at the City of York Council website to see what facilities there are remaining, and it appears that everyone in this area can either go to Edmund Wilson baths in Acomb, or Yearsley baths near the Nestle factory (though only after the end of October, as it’s closed for refurbishment at present.)
It does seem strange that at a time when we’re being nagged constantly by government and the health authorities to keep fit and get more exercise, we lose one of the local swimming baths altogether, and at the same time another one is closed for refurbishment.
It looks like a short-sighted cock up to me, but then what do I know. It could be that part of the plan is to encourage even more exercise by forcing the residents of the Fishergate and Fulford areas to walk or cycle a few miles before they actually get to swim. Long term plans might be to move swimming facilities to Tadcaster or somewhere. I don’t know – it’s impossible to keep up.
Thanks to Jeremy who reminded me that there used to be baths at St George’s Field, near the Foss barrier. A recent Press article suggested that the authorities may have plans to build a new baths on that site. Or perhaps at the university. Meanwhile, it seems we’re not exactly awash with swimming facilities.
This photo shows the Barbican baths from Barbican Road. I think it’s obvious from this photo that it is no great loss architecturally – unless you like stained grey concrete. The luminous posters are advertising swimming at the other baths – in a kind of desperate way.
If I lived in this area I’d have expected – or hoped, at least – that if these baths needed to be demolished, new baths would be built in their place. But it appears that it’s going to be a hotel, and yet more residential development. Probably of the apartment variety, which we’ve already acknowledged we’ve got too much of, but keep building anyway. Crazy crazy world.