Our Origins

The campaign to save Govanhill Pool formally began in January 2001 when Glasgow City Council informed the community and the users that it was to close the baths on March 31st that year. There had been no local consultation and none with the users. Community members occupied the pool from March 17th until August 7th that year when Sheriff’s Officers accompanied eventually by some 250 police, horses and even a helicopter surveillance removed the protesters and boarded up the pool with steel shutters.


November 2000
Rumours in the community that the City Council is to close the baths even though a written commitment had been made not to do so in the report “Sport for All” 1999. Rumours are denied by locally elected councillors and the council.

January 6 2001
Glasgow City Council through its leader Charlie Gordon, announces closure of the baths in the Glasgow Evening Times and say it will close on 23rd March come what may. Indicates that £750,00 is necessary to keep them open and refurbished which is not economic and because the alleged the baths insufficiently used. Statistics that are subsequently challenged.

January 14 2001
Parents of the children who were swimmers at the Kingston club Swimming Club meet in the baths to discuss what can be done. A club of some 20 years standing recruiting early learners through to high level performers in competitive swimming. It had some 230 members when the baths were closed largely from south side and the surrounding area and was a major social outlet for Southside children from all social and cultural groups. Only a handful of Govanhill baths members were able to “move” to new facility provision 5 miles away in Castlemilk.


January 28 2001
Save Our Pool – Southside Against Closure (SAC) Community Action Group formed and begins weekly meetings at Daisy Street Family Centre. (It was built out of a loose amalgam of protesting parents of children and was quickly supported by some 200 other community members. It also represented action to stop the closure of the local library that had also been rumoured. Petition drawn up and circulated at ongoing events locally and across Southside of Glasgow – some 30,000 signatures of protest gathered and presented to the local council and the Scottish Government

February 2001
Wide range of community activities and demonstrations including a march around Govanhill with around 1,000 people taking part. Council leader Charlie Gordon and Culture and Sport bosses refuse to discuss any aspect of the closure with the Action Group.

Charlie Gordon formally announces in an open letter to pool users that the baths will close on 31st March and that a feasibility study in respect of future use of baths will be completed independently. Still refuses to discuss any aspect of the closure with the action group. Announces that now it estimates that repairs were more than £1Million (although no detail or justification for this was offered). Suggests they are “well past their sell by date” and offers them to the baths protesters for £1.00! Figures challenged by Save Our Pool. Council announces baths will close on 23rd March.

Plans prepared to occupy the baths on 23rd March if the action closure continues. Action group set up to arrange this. Save Our Pool Action group publishes its response to the closure in the dossier, Sport for Life for Who? Substantially researched 33-page dossier critiques and challenges the council’s closure of the baths on the bases of wide ranging evidence and political commitments of the government and many professional organizations including SportScotland. Notes that council conducted no social audit in respect of effects of the closure. It demanded:

  • That the doors of Govanhill Pool remain open until a full consultation of the community and a full social audit of the impact of the proposed closure takes place.
  • That the Council meet with this Campaign group, for them to put forward their vision for the future of the Govanhill Pool.

Dossier, (delivered by hand) was not acknowledged by Charlie Gordon, the Council Leader or the Head of Culture and Sport. Its evidence and argument presented on behalf of the community were ignored.

21 March 2001
Occupation of the baths takes place. Occupiers go for a swim on the final night of opening and chain themselves to the changing cubicles and other places. At closing time the staff are told that they should leave the building since this was an official occupation and that they were quite safe but should leave. The manager called the police who arrived accepted that this was a formal occupation and left, leaving the building to the occupiers.

Web site launched and first report appears. Ongoing reports of actions and events that were posted over the following 5 months and beyond.

A Minute Before Midnight
 the group wait tentatively for the dawn of the next day. Ensuring all arrangements are in place, checking any last minute details. They kiss their families goodnight and goodbye, still disbelieving their council would have such disregard for them, still hoping their council would see the light and vow to keep the pools and recreation facilities of Govanhill open as popular opinion of the masses have demonstrated, but resigned and determined to be part of a protest they would never have before imagined in a civilized western country.

Easter 2001
500 people attend a street celebration. Arrangements made to close Calder Street at baths where a stage is constructed for a concert involving local and nationally known performers. The Peace Garden provides a barbeque and activities for children.

May 2001
Action group continues protests by temporarily closes Bellahouston swimming pool and Kelvingrove Sports Centre.

August 7 2001
Sheriff’s Officer’s as instructed by the Council raid the baths at 5:15am removing protesters from inside the building. Crowds of some 1000 local people gather around the baths closing Calder Street and 250 police arrive to ring the front of the building whilst windows are encased with heavy metal shutters. Protests continue throughout the day in spite considerable and disproportionate police presence. Picket outside the baths continues until May 2002 as a gesture. Save Our Pool lodges long list of complaints through its lawyer against the police and Chief constable calls in Perth constabulary to investigate. No action taken against any of the officers present! 13 arrests made and charges brought. All subsequently failed in court bar one. Council accuses Save Our Pool of being infiltrated by “far left” activists, Scotsman accuses it of “rent a mob” tactics. No evidence for these wild untruths.

May 2002
Picket line removed from front of baths but Save Our Pool continues over next two years to meet regularly organizing various social activities and keeping pressure on council regarding its plans for the baths. Insists they should be opened as a public facility run by the council.

Stalemate begins!

May 2004
The council announces that the baths are “surplus to its requirements” and are transferred from Culture and Sport to Development and Regeneration Services for “disposal”. However, works with a local group to convert the baths for use by the elderly. Save Our Pool protests about this – plans scuppered by feasibility study and could not meet the stipulations set down by Historic Scotland given the List B status of the Baths.

June 2004
The Council advertises the baths for use by anyone with a particular interest. Save Our Pool immediately expresses that interest and applies to become a Charitable Trust to run the baths as a not for profit organization itself. Receives backing from Historic Scotland and many other groups.

January 2005
Govanhill Baths Charitable Trust is formally constituted and immediately lodges its interest with the council to convert the baths into a Health and Wellbeing Centre and is given dispensation to submit a first Draft Business Plan. With Grant Aid from the Big Lottery, the Architectural Heritage Fund, Scottish Community Foundation and the Royal Institute of British Architects it appoints NORD architects to conduct a feasibility study.

August 2006
First stage business plan submitted. Council calls for final stage Business Plan within a year. Delays created by difficulty in gaining access to the baths created by the council. Key local partners brought on board, including Govanhill Housing Association and Development Trust.

June 2007
Govanhill Baths Art and Regeneration Team established to develop all aspects of culture and the arts in support of the baths campaign.

August 2007
Charity shop in Calder Street formally opened by Elaine C Smith and MP Mohammad Sarwar. Proves to be enormous success. Rear of shop established as GBCT office. Scottish Community Fund and the Big Lottery provide funding to fit the shop. Monthly “Soup Song and Swallies” inaugurated on a monthly basis on Sunday’s at Billy McNeil’s pub. Good lunch and good afternoon music provided.

January 2008
Committee formed to prepare Final Stage Business Plan with support and co-operation of Glasgow City Council Development and Regeneration Services Department (who facilitated bi-monthly meetings) and Govanhill Housing Association who facilitated the committee. NORD Architecture central to this process along with EKOS of Glasgow who developed the Plan with the GBCT Board. Funding of some £15,000 secured for this process from the Architectural Heritage Fund and the Big Lottery. £12.5Million is the estimated projected cost of the new Centre.

Charity shop appoints a Shop Manager.

September 2008
Over 2,000 people tour the Baths during Glasgow’s Doors Open Day.

December 2008
Business Plan submitted. £2Million requested from both government and council. No replies to date. Contains written support from all locally elected councillors bar one and all local MSPs.

January 2009
First annual GBCT Burns Night Ceilidh established. Huge success.

June 2009
Planning permission for new Wellbeing Centre approved thanks to NORD architecture – cost of £11,000 to Trust.

August 2009
Successful application for grant from governments Third Sector Enterprise Fund to establish Centre for Community Practice (CCP) in refurbished premises opposite the baths. Funds for the appointment of a manager for research and community practice and administration costs in converted shop premises opposite the baths in Calder Street.

September 2009
Centre for Community Practice and Trust Offices open
Again over 2,000 people tour the Baths during Doors Open Day. Govanhill Baths Art and Regeneration Committee organizes an art Exhibition at the same time. 28 artists locally and nationally present their work. Culture and Sport Award an arts grant to support an artists in residence for the event.

November 2009
The Scottish Government Third Sector Enterprise Fund awards the Trust £70,000 to develop Centre for Community Practice and Trust Offices at 126 Calder Street. Opened formally and launched by Director of Community Health and Care Partnership (SE), Cathy Cowan. Funding to refurbish premises, appoint administrator and Director of CCP.

January 2010
Manager of Centre for Community Practice takes up post.
Second Burns Night Ceilidh held – sold out before the event, another success.

May and June 2010
A local arts festival (funded by Culture and Sport Glasgow) art/culture organized (called Streetland) over May holiday weekend. Huge success involves many parts of the “diverse” community. Some 400 visitors. Festival of “welcome” held. Refugee Council funds GBCT to run “Govanhill Refugee Week – All Our Futures”. 300 local people pack on and around the Peace Garden by the baths in a celebration of welcoming refugees and others to Govanhill. Music, drums, singing choirs, children’s activities and free lunch for all!

March 2010
GBCT art Auction held in main pool. Turner prize winners donate works. 400 visitors 40 contributors.

July 2010
Plans developed to establish the baths Trust and Centre for Community Practice in the front suite of the baths to enable community access to suite of rooms and as first stage of Wellbeing Centre development. Collaboration with Govanhill Community Action (GoCA) group (a coalition of some 25 local voluntary groups), £100,000 sought from “Equally Well Community Health “. £50,000 for Health and Wellbeing programme and £50,000 for capital costs for refurbishing front suite.

The Project developed in the light of local, charitable and government funding cuts that make raising £12.5Million a longer-term project.

Three Phase 5 year plan drawn up for the long term re-opening of the whole baths building as a wellbeing Centre.

Phase 1 (2013 – 15) which includes the opening and refurbishment of the front suite and working towards the opening of the “ladies and toddlers pools”, an arts space – Create, gardening space, Turkish suite and sauna, gymnasium and healthy eating café.

Phase 2 (2015 -16) the development of the “Steamie” as an events and community space.

Phase 3 2016 -17) re-opening the main pool and completing the programme of activities outlined below.

September 2010
£100,000 awarded for from Equally Well Project and commissioning work takes place to refurbish front suite of the baths as GBCT base and Centre for Community Practice. Health and Wellbeing Project drawn up and council approves one-year licence to move back in to the baths building.

2,000 people attend Doors Open Day.

December 2010
Citizen’s Theatre develop community production of the pantomime Aladdin in main pool

January 2011
Charity Shop, renamed the Emporium, moves to new premises in Victoria Road some 4 times present size of those in Calder Street – owing to huge demand and generosity of donations from local people.

June 2011
Community based filming of and Santander award funding to establish our “Rags to Riches” upcycling project housed at 126 Calder Street and in the Charity Shop.

September 2011
With regard to £1Million Big Lottery funding application Big Lottery grant £10,000 for the commissioning and production of local consultation that will establish need for the proposed wellbeing centre. Community based research group enlisted and work begins.

Two Community Jobs Scotland under 24 workers appointed in Charity Shop (Retail Trainee) and in Trust offices (Trainee administrator) for 6 months only
With regard to £1Million Big Lottery funding application Big Lottery grant £10,000 for the commissioning and production of local consultation study that will establish need for the proposed wellbeing centre. Community based research group enlisted and work begins

January 2012
Exhibition of 10 years of Save Our Pool and Trust images for mounting as an Exhibition begins development. Completed March 2012
CCP manager leaves post and new manager appointed alongside project manager for baths building refurbishments.

February 2012
Formal launch and opening of front suite as part of Phase one of 5 year plan. Peter Mullan, Nicola Sturgeon and Cllr Archie Graham as guest speakers. 200 people attend.

June 2012
Historic Scotland approve in principle grant funding of up to £400,000 for refurbishment and protection of whole baths building within our 5 year plans
Artist in Residence appointed to develop Refugee week celebrations.

August 2012
Big Lottery confirms move of our £1Million funding application to stage 2 with £50,000 release to appoint project manager and assist with technical development.

September 2012
National Theatre of Scotland refurbish toddler’s/training pool for its 6 week production of “Lifeguard” written, produced by Adrian Howell (who took part in the show). Production sold out throughout and received highly positive reviews in national (UK) and local press.

1600 people attend Doors Open Day.

Big Lottery awards £10,000 for further development of front suite allowing thrree more rooms for CCP activity and Trust usage. Completed December 2012.

November 2012
New Community Jobs Scotland person appointed for 6 months contract – receptionist.

December 2012
Royal College of Surgeons mount major touring exhibition “Human Race” in main pool. 7 week highly successful run with 1000 visitors. Exhibition charted the development and history of sports science in Scotland. Exhibition included mounting of permanent balustrade at shallow end of pool for permanent use for pool events.

March 2013
£140,000 awarded to develop Rags to Riches Upcycling project in baths building in collaboration with Charity Shop with working studio housed in original sauna and Turkish waiting rooms.

Glasgow City Council replaces 1 yea licence to use the front suite of the baths with a long term lease for permanent use of whole building.

September 2013
Process of Recruiting Project Manager for Phase 1 of overall 3 Phase development – £60,000 Big Lottery Funding – begins.

Doors Open Day attracts some 1,200 visitors.

Strathclyde Theatre Group established in baths as a base for its productions.

2013 Booking Overview: 30 different organisations book baths building during the year for various activities.