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Beverley Road baths, Hull

Beverley Road Baths is an impressive monument to turn-of-the-century civic pride. A central square tower topped by an octagonal cupola marks out the entrance, and another smaller cupola with a copper dome turns the corner into Epworth Street. To the right, the gabled end of the pool hall, decorated with a Palladian window. This is a baths complex which wants to be noticed!

Beverley Road, Kingston Upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire. Opened 29 May 1905. 
Listed Grade II on 4 July 1990

Beverley Road Baths is an impressive monument to turn-of-the-century civic pride. A central square tower topped by an octagonal cupola marks out the entrance, and another smaller cupola with a copper dome turns the corner into Epworth Street. To the right, the gabled end of the pool hall, decorated with a Palladian window. This is a baths complex which wants to be noticed!

Inside there's a very impressive ceramic plaque commemorating the opening of the baths on 29 May 1905, set in an architectural niche. Does anyone do such elaborate memorials nowadays? Even more unusual is the matching one opposite, which incorporates a brass portrait relief of John Shaw, then chairman of the Baths Committee (since 1891). It's by Edward Caldwell Spruce (1849-1923), a Leeds sculptor. He had been a modeller for Burmantofts Pottery before studying in Paris, so I wonder if this is all Burmantofts ceramic?

In the foyer there's nice chunky plasterwork, good tiles and stained glass. The pool itself has been modernised, but there are still changing cubicles beneath the balconies, and the pool itself has nice wide lanes, ideal for lane swimming. It's got nice historic character, and feels well looked-after. There's a modern steam room as well. The list description says that two swimming baths survive, but I saw only one. Another must have been demolished at some time; the tiled walls are visible in the secure car park out the back.

Indeed, it's an oasis of calm and tranquillity after the incessant hum of traffic up the A1079 Beverley Road outside. The surrounding area is perhaps not what it once was partly, no doubt, due to the blight of a busy arterial road. From the top deck of the No. 14 bus I spot some substantial terrace houses, clearly once the homes of the well-to-do middle classes, The former Northern Branch Library (1894. By HA Cheers of Twickenham) is under scaffolding -- a good sign, I think, as someone's spending money on it.

By contrast the former Central Baptist church (a characterful design by George Baines & Son of London, 1904) latterly Trafalgar Street Church, is now seemingly abandoned and derelict and there are quite a number of boarded-up shopfronts. A sign on an abandoned building at the back of the baths warns potential thieves that there is no lead or copper inside. It's a world away from the glitzy new St Stephens shopping centre on Ferensway, next to Hull station, which proclaims itself 'the new high street'. A private high street. Let's hope the public facilities on the old streets survive.

 

See the list entry on Heritage Gateway.

See the Beverley Road baths website. (Hull City Council)

Monday 28 July, 2008

More recent item: Camberwell baths
Earlier item: Bramley baths, Leeds

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