Govanhill Baths Centenary Celebrations Close With Major Conference

As part of our centenary celebrations this conference will look at the importance of municipal swimming baths & wash houses: their impact on public health and amateur swimming in Scotland; their architectural importance and what all this means today as Govanhill Baths is redeveloped into a community led Health and Wellbeing Centre.

The conference is supported with a Heritage Grant from Glasgow City Heritage Trust.

Public Health and the Built Environment Conference

Programme

10.00 Registration and refreshments

10.20 Introduction & Welcome
Niall Murphy (Govanhill Baths Community Trust & Glasgow City Heritage Trust)

10.35 Govanhill, Glasgow in the 1910’s – 1920’s
Fiona Hayes and Isobel McDonald (Glasgow Museums)

11.05 Glasgow’s Public health in the time of War
Simon Walker (Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare, University of Strathclyde)

11.35 Q&A

11.45 Refreshment break

12.00 Scottish baths 1868-1914 : and their conservation
Douglas Campbell (Aberdeen City Heritage Trust)

12.30 Sharing Memories of Baths and Wash Houses
Carl Evans (Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive)

13.00 Q&A

13.10 Networking lunch

14.00 Victoria Baths & Historic Pools of Britain
Gill Wright (Victoria Baths, Manchester and Historic Pools of Britain)

14.30 Learning to Swim in Govanhill & Amateur Swimming in Scotland
Paul Donald (Scottish Swimming and Kingston Amateur Swimming Club)

15.00 Q&A and closing remarks
Paula Larkin (Govanhill Baths Archive)

15.30 Close

Happy New Year 2017

Out with the old in with the new – well not exactly!!! Here at Govanhill Baths Archive we treasure the rich, diverse, fascinating and ever-changing stories, people and events which have shaped the history of Govanhill Baths.

On the 28th February 1917, Calder St Baths and Wash house opened it’s doors to the public for the first time – watch this space over the next few months as we celebrate this momentous occasion.

 

 

Christmas Has Come Early This Year!

This week I continued with my box listing assignment, steadily working through the collections, creating excel sheets and describing all the items. I was examining a box relating to the ‘Save Our Pool’ period of the Baths history, when I came across a number of Christmas Cards.

Xmas Card Selection

Xmas Card Selection

These cards serve as a reminder of the fantastically creative approach of Save Our Pool activists downs the years. The cards were commissioned by the Govanhill Baths Community Trust in 2008 to raise money and awareness for the cause. Local primary school classes were encouraged to submit designs, the very best being chosen to be printed and sold in the area. I think you’ll agree the designs are fantastic!

Xmas Card Design One Xmas Card Design Two

Moreover, the children who created these wonderful designs epitomize the diverse community which the Baths serve, being of South Asian, Middle Eastern, Scottish and Eastern European heritage.
When people think of archives, they most likely would think of old manuscripts, or weighty, dusty tomes. However, these Xmas decorations richly deserve their place in the Govanhill Baths Archive, documenting as they do the nature of the local area and the actions that people have taken in order to protect their community.

Xmas Card Design Three

Archiving at Govanhill – Some Challenges

This week I’d like to introduce some of the challenges that we face in trying to run and preserve the archive here at Govanhill.

Govanhill Baths Exterior

Govanhill Baths Exterior

Though the building is spectacular architecturally, an Edwardian municipal bathhouse is far from a conventional archive space. Our archival collections are stored in the former ‘Ladies Hot Baths’, on the upper floor of the building, with our ‘office’ being kept in a cubicle!

As renovations are an ongoing process, this part of the building is currently without heating , so it can get pretty chilly. Moreover, the roof is somewhat insecure and so conditions are at times damp. The fluctuation in temperature and moisture is a particular concern, as stability of climate is key when attempting to secure the long term preservation of paper records.

What’s more, due to broken windows I’ve even had the pleasure of being visited by local pigeons whilst sorting through materials!
Despite these challenges I believe that the archive at Govanhill is a great example of how community projects can flourish in even the most tricky of circumstances. We have decent storage in the form of two large shelving units and protect the items through the use of watertight plastic boxes. The shelves are then covered by a tarpaulin to protect them from the worst of Glasgow’s weather. We also have a number of ‘standard archival boxes’, which meet international regulations. Within each of our boxes are ‘Silica gel’ pouches, which combat moisture.

Shelves (2) Office - Laptop & Printer (2)

These materials were procured by our chief archivist Paula Larkin, with the help from a grant provided by the ‘Heritage Lottery Fund’. It was this endowment – gifted as part of the Bath’s centenary celebrations in 2014 – that allowed for the archive to be established. Though not a large sum, this money has provided a decent and stable facility for the keeping an archival collection.

The heritage money also allowed Paula to buy a laptop and scanner, which will hopefully in the future allow us to digitize our collections so that more people can have access to them!

It goes to show that with ingenuity and a few modest resources local groups can safely store precious items. At Govanhill we’re able to secure items to a professional standard and keep them close to the people who care about them most.

Songs From the Govanhill Baths Archive – A Follow Up Blog

Morning all! As promised, if a little late, here’s one of the tunes from ‘The Song Factory’ album mentioned in last weeks blog. It’s a rendition of ‘The Wild Rover’ re-imagined by Alistair Hulett as ‘The Bold Swimmer’.

Alistair was a key figure in the Save Our Pool campaign, using his talents as a singer and songwriter to raise awareness of the cause. There’s barely a song on the album which he didn’t have something to do with! Alistair was a gifted musician and political activist who sadly passed away in 2010. He had a long and distinguished career which spanned five decades, writing music which encompassed the best of folk, punk and rockabilly. I don’t have room here to do justice to the man’s achievements, but please do take a look at his website.

http://www.alistairhulett.com/

Alistair Hulett

Alistair Hulett

During the early occupation of the Baths, Alastair’s songs played an important role. Every Wednesday, in order to commemorate the start of the occupation, the 21st of March 2001, people would gather outside of the Baths and sing campaign tunes. These musical demonstrations helped the movement gather momentum, not to mention raising the spirits of the activists inside!

Protest Music – Songs from the Govanhill Baths Archive

Welcome back to the Archivist’s Blog! This week I’ll be sharing with you some of the musical treats we have here in our collections.

My task right now at the archive, and for the foreseeable future (!), is to create ‘Box Lists’ of the collections. Essentially this means creating a written record of all items we have in our stores, with the aim of making them easier to access.Yesterday I finished sorting through my first box, which is part of the ‘Save Our Pool’ series. These items all relate to the political actions launched by the Govanhill community between 2001 and 2004 to protest closure and gain support for reopening the pool. The materials are fascinating, ranging from flyers to legal documents, collection boxes to surveys.

However what stood out most to me was the wealth of musical items from this exciting time of the Bath’s history.

Govanhill Baths Piano

By late April 2001 the occupation of the Baths was well underway, the community having first taken control of the building on March 21st. To commemorate the success of this direct action, ‘Southside Against Closure’ decided to publish a book of protest songs. The result was ‘The Govanhill Official Souvenir Songbook Volume One’.

'The Govanhill Official Souvenir Songbook Volume One’

‘The Govanhill Official Souvenir Songbook Volume One’

This booklet consists of 17 songs, a mixture of original compositions and re-workings of pop and folk songs. It’s a fantastic example of the British political musical tradition, and captures the excitement and energy that galvanised the community at this time.

Also contained within the box are several rough drafts of songs found in the songbook. One that stands out is a tune addressed to the Labour Councillor Charles Gordon, the then Leader of Glasgow City Council. The song, though untitled, is sung to the tune of ‘The Wild Rover’, and uses humor to pressurise the politicians to act. Particularly funny is the chorus:
“So it’s come on Charlie, Gonna Gie Us a Swim, Cos I’m a wild swimmer, Won’t put my trunks in the bin”.

Rough draft of the Govanhill version of 'The Wild Rover'

Rough draft of the Govanhill version of ‘The Wild Rover’

Handwritten Songs

Later in 2001 many of the songs featured in the songbook were recorded and put onto an album entitled ‘The Song Factory’, released through Red Rattler Records. We have several copies of the album in the archive. I’ll try and upload one of the songs to the blog later in the week.

CD Photo

 

 

 

New Year, New Volunteer at the Archive

Hello Everyone!

My name is Alex Duthie and I’m a Masters student at the University of Glasgow currently studying for a MSc in Information Management and Preservation (or to put it more simply, Archives!) In the past I’ve been lucky enough to work and volunteer at the Scottish Mining Museum and the Scottish Fisheries Museum. I have a passion for recording the social history of Scotland, hopefully honoring the stories and struggles of ordinary folk throughout time.

I’m happy to say that I’ll be helping out Paula at the Baths Archive over the coming months. My main job will be to sort and catalogue the materials, allowing people to find interesting items simply and quickly. I also hope to contribute regularly to this blog, sharing with you some of the amazing items the Baths and the wider Govanhill community have generated over the years.

Alex Duthie - Archival Assistant

I’ve already had the pleasure of handling a range of items relating to the ‘SAVE OUR POOL’ period of the Bath’s history, and will be uploading some pictures in the coming days.

Stay tuned…

Restored Save Our Pool Banners

Happy New Year!!!!

Very happy to share with you our two newly restored banners. Huge huge thanks to Ania Zapotoczna from Rags to Riches for the great job she has done. This ensures the banners will continue to illustrate the Save Our Pool campaign and the occupation of Govanhill Baths for years to come.

Paula

 

IMG_2370

 

 

 

Banner Tales of Glasgow

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Great to be at the launch of the Banner Tales of Glasgow booklet at the Mitchell Library today. Great speakers and the publication is excellent. It’s a really interesting project from Glasgow University, Glasgow Museums and the GMB union. Please see their Facebook page for details https://www.facebook.com/Banner-Tales-of-Glasgow-1554159684863652/?fref=ts. 

And here at the Baths really excited that after a recent visit from Helen Hughes, Textile Conservator with Glasgow Museums, who advised us how to best conserve our banners, that two are now being mended by our very own Rags to Riches upcycling project.

Gb-8                                                                                     Gb-9

Opening Doors

Hola!!
Since our last blog I’ve been to London to the Community Archives and Heritage Group annual conference which was excellent!!! Got introduced to alot of really interesting archive projects including:
– Milford Street Bridge Project, winner of the Community Archive and Heritage Group of the Year.
– Khizra Foundation, winner of the best new group.
– Ryde Social Heritage Group, voted best Website – my personal favourite!
– Newlyn Archive, winner of the Inspiration category.
Then a few days later I finally got the chance to visit the Victoria Baths in Manchester. Great bunch of people who like Govanhill Baths are working towards reopening as a public swimming baths and in the meantime are using the building for all sorts of interesting projects. They have a wonderful archive which was set up at the time of closure and has been developing ever since through the work of the Victoria Baths History Group.
Back at Govanhill Baths Archive we’ve had a wonderful day with a visit from Helen Hughes, Textile Conservator with Glasgow Life/Glasgow Museums who came to advise us on looking after our banners. We’re also busy getting geared up for Doors Open Day 2015.
Come and visit us in the main pool where we will be displaying all sorts of materials from Before Closure, Save Our Pool and Govanhill Baths Community Trust. You can listen to oral histories, watch video testimonies about the baths, read and write in our memory book and have a look at the multitude of newspaper clippings from the Save Our Pool Campaign and much more……
So whether your new to the Govanhill Baths story or a former user of the baths, where involved in campaign or more recently please come along and take part. David Baumann, former team manager of the Zenith Swimming Club which was based in the baths from 1955 until 1974 will be displaying trophies, photographs, records of swimming championships and annual galas from the materials which he recently loaned to the archive. David will be on havd to chat about the history of the Zenith Swimming Club.
Oh and if your interested in volunteering for Doors Open Doors get in touch.

http://www.communityarchives.org.uk/
http://www.milfordstreetbridgeproject.org.uk/
http://www.everydaymuslim.org/#!khizra-foundation/cfyh
http://www.rshg.org.uk/
http://newlynarchive.org.uk/

http://www.victoriabaths.org.uk/