Like much else in Queensbury, the baths were given by the local mill owners, the Foster family, whose firm is very much in business still today.
Victoria Hall, Queensbury Sand Beds, Bradford, West Yorks
Listed Grade II on 7 March 1985
They are part of the Victoria Hall, designed by TH and F Healey of Bradford and built by local labour. This attractive stone building is in the Queen Anne style, and was put up to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, hence its name. The date 1887 can be seen in the rainwater heads, but the baths themselves were not completed until 1891.
On the front of the building are two plaques either side of a coat of arms. Is this Fosters? Certainly there are busts of the brothers John and William still in the entrance hall. The plaques show commerce and industry on the one side, and the arts on the other, no doubt intended to convey the message that successful business brings with it the opportunity for the arts to flourish as well.
The baths are at the rear of the site, entered from an extension, but the entrance would presumably have originally been through the door on this side elevation. Inside, you can still appreciate the historic volume of the pool hall, although no decorative finishes remain. There was a thermal window at the far end of the pool, but this was blocked up at some stage when services were installed outside. There are new changing cubicles poolside, presumably in their historic location.
Though the pool is short -- only 15 metres -- it is the sort of community pool which is clearly much valued by the local communities. Swimmers generally know each other, and the sense of friendship and camaraderie keeps them coming back week after week when otherwise they might be tempted to skip their exercise!
Also part of the complex is a public hall which can seat 650 people, a library and a council chamber. The council chamber is no longer in use and has been converted into a studio. There is good stained glass, mosaic floors and a nice iron staircase balustrade absolutely in keeping with the style of the building. Though there is some repair work still to do, the council are to be congratulated for keeping this building well looked-after and open for use.
Kathie Griffiths, 'Historian goes to great lengths', Telegraph and Argus (Bradford), 6 August 2008. (video)
Ben Barnett, 'Going to great lengths to save pools', Telegraph and Argus (Bradford), 6 August 2008. (story)
See the list entry on Heritage Gateway.