Swimming Pool

Campaign to transform the former swimming pool into a community center

A local community with no community space of its own is asking Bristol City Council to convert a former swimming pool into a new center for the area.

The Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association have started a petition to ask the council to work with local people to transform Jacob’s Wells Baths into a community centre.

This community focus has always been key here, and the building has a rich and diverse heritage. Opened in 1887, the baths were then described by the western daily press as “one of the best in the kingdom”.

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Jacob’s Wells Baths in 1904 – Image: Bristol Archives

Near Jacob’s Wells Industrial Dwellings, the baths were for the working poor.

The public baths, which became the Bristol Community Dance Center in the 1980s, received an internationally acclaimed rosewood sprung floor, which is still fitted across the top of the pool.

The former swimming pool and baths have remained vacant and unused for the past five years since a charity obtained the lease on the historic building with plans to convert it back into a swimming pool.

But in December, Fusion, which operates locations like Shepton Mallet Lido and Wells Sport & Fitness, withdrew from restoring and managing the building.

Jacob’s Wells Baths on Jacob’s Wells Road has now been closed for a number of years – Photo: Martin Booth

Since the closure of the Hope Center – now Hope Community Church, where Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees prays – the parishes of Hotwells and Cliftonwood no longer have their own community room.

“We don’t have a place where people can get confidential advice on issues like the cost of living,” writes Rachel McNally on behalf of the Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association.

“There is no space for community activities. There is no place where local people can meet: overcome challenges and celebrate successes together.

“We believe that Fusion’s withdrawal from the development of Jacob’s Wells Baths represents an opportunity to reinvent this much-loved historic building as a true community asset.

“Jacob’s Wells Baths are ideally positioned as a community center with ample space for the development of activities, resources, events and services.

“This approach will help local people develop a sense of community and build trust between our communities and the Council.

“We want to work with the council, other city partners (like Trinity) and stakeholders to preserve Jacob’s Wells Baths for the community now and develop the building for our future.

Contact Gonzo vs Bristol at Jacob’s Wells Baths as part of Mayfest 2018 – Photo: Paul Blakemore

“In a rapidly growing city with ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2030, we need spaces like this that give people the time and space to grow in communities, share ideas and create solutions to local challenges and global problems.

“We know we need time to develop such plans for Jacob’s Wells Baths and we urge Bristol City Council to work with us to find a solution that preserves this building for future generations of Bristolians, and not at private developments loses.”

To sign the petition, visit www.change.org/p/save-jacob-s-wells-baths-transform-it-into-a-community-hub

Main photo: Artspace Lifespace

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