Baths Film Hits the Road

Fran Higson’s film United We Will Swim… Again about the 14 year long struggle to save Govanhill Baths has started a tour of the UK, screening at swimming pools, community centres and other events across the country.  Fresh from the premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the tour kicked off on Saturday at Templemore Baths in East Belfast.  This weekend there will be two separate screenings in Manchester, at Withington baths and Victoria Baths and one in Leeds.  From there the tour goes to Oxford, London (twice), Brighton and ends in the West Country at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Film Festival.

There will be a tour of Scotland in the autumn reaching out to other campaigns and self-organised community groups.  Fran is hoping that the film can inspire other communities and campaigns to organise and fightback, if you are interested in screening the film in your area contact her at franceshigson@gmail.com

Meanwhile you can keep track of the tour by liking and following the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/United-We-Will-Swim-again/359208607570092

End of an era as Baths leader Andrew Johnson retires from the Trust

In 2001, when Glasgow City Council decided to close the baths in Calder Street, a very varied group of people came together to fight the closure. Andrew Johnson had seen 4 of his children learn to swim here as part of the highly regarded Kingston club, and was one of the earliest to start organising against the closure.
Over the next 14 years Andrew, more than anyone, guided and led what became one of the most effective and historic political campaigns in Glasgow’s history. The campaign against the closure became a campaign to re-open and a campaign against demolition. In 2004, in response to the council’s decision to seek a buyer, The Govanhill Baths Community Trust was formed. Andrew became Chair of the Trust and, in that role, forged an organisation that has exceeded expectations and now stands on the brink of refurbishing the building in to a “Well Being Centre”.
It is this vision of a centre that goes beyond swimming, a community asset that addresses the physical mental and social health of the community the people most associate with Andrew.
It is virtually impossible to find words to fully describe his contribution, such was the impact of his leadership and guidance over the years. The gap left by his departure will be hard to fill.
Govanhill Baths Community Trust wishes to thank Andrew for all he has done for this community. When the pools reopen and Govanhillians swim again, it will be a legacy that many people share but he can be more proud of than most. It is hard to imagine how we could have continued the campaign over a decade and a half and reached the stage we are at right now without him. He is, and always will be, a legend in the history of Govanhill Baths.
Thank you Andrew.

Closure of The Emporium Charity Shop

It was with deep regret that GBCT had to make the decision to close our Charity Shop, The Emporium.  The shop opened in August 2001, initially at a site in Calder Street and then to the popular site on Victoria Road.  Rising costs and the recession have hit many similar shops and we could not justify the costs eventually when rents and other costs continued to rise.

As well as raising much needed funds for the campaign to save the Baths, it served as a social place, where people visited and volunteers formed friendships and learned new skills.  The volunteers were a great team who were great advocates for the Trust and, to many local people, the public face of the campaign.

But the success and impact of the Emporium was largely down the work and dedication of one particular person, our shop manager Inga Zaiceva.  She was respected greatly by her volunteer staff and also by the wider community.  Her multi-lingual abilities meant that she was often the “go to” person for many of Govanhill’s Eastern European community.  She was always there for advice and help.

Inga’s vibrant personality brought a new layer of supporters and volunteers to the Baths.  In her time with us, her professionalism and skills played a huge part in taking the Trust to where we are now, ready to start the next phase of refurbishing the building and swimming pools.  She deserves our heartfelt thanks for her contribution over 8 years and will always be respected and remembered as an integral part of the history of Govanhill Baths.  We wish her all the best and success in the future.