What a summer for sports, rain and wacky happenings. The Olympians’ Parade through Glasgow is underway as this is written. The crowds have turned out as only Glasgow people can – happy to stand side by side with folk from Kirkcaldy and even far flung parts of Lanarkshire – to cheer on their sports heroes.
The sun shone as it does most afternoons. Then you get the waterproof hood ready for the monsoon which tends to fall around 6pm.
And wacky happenings include the fantastic events which will be part of DOORS OPEN weekend Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September. Govanhill Baths will have the toddlers’ pool filled with water and the new front foyer space can be seen for the very versatile event platform it is proving to be. While not on view at DOORS OPEN, synchronized swimmers have used the pool for an upcoming National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) production to be performed in the Calder Street Baths later in the year. Even if you have other things to do this weekend, drop them and go opening doors in some of the 100 buildings which will be open to the public and expecting you in!
Get all the uptodate info from their website: www.glasgowdoorsopenday.com
It’s already in lots of diaries – the Southside Festival on Saturday 26 May. Participation meetings have been held – giving the steering group useful feedback and generating interest. Another will take place on the Monday 19 March from 7.30 at the Govanhill Baths, 126 Calder Street, Govanhill. Glasgow. G42 7QR. All interested will be made welcome.
One of the topics will be the next Streetland Arts Festival as an essential part of whole.
Artist Luis McGill Art and his ‘Glasgow Venus’ project is likely to be a major player this year. (see picture)
The Glasgow Venus topic is ‘Occupation’ This is widely interpreted – from ‘occupying’ architecture in 3D to the all-female, three piece band Terminal Parade Local ‘occupying the architecture with experimental sound.’
Local resident and community artist Eilidg Graham will chat about what occupies her most as a community artist here and abroad at her annual residences. This will be done within the setting of a boxing ring so that people can experience the contrast in occupations.
Other contributions are anticipated from:
- Christina, a Govanhill resident who has raised her family in the area. She is a published poet, photographer and Youth Community Arts facilitator.
- Dr Katie Stewart, singer songwriter, seasoned local performer and partricipant in Govanhill Sculpture Group.
- Tilly Gifford local connected Environmental Artist ‘GSA’ shows her sketch book during her occupation with sharing and extending the seed bank globally during a hundred days psyching through monsoon and desert heat.
- Luis McGill will be showing his 100-year-old recycled silver work of The Glasgow Venus in miniature and in manikin-sized ‘occupation’ of Govanhill’s community buildings – including the Calder Street Baths. Other work by Luis on the Venus theme will be shown in ceramic, acrylic, on canvas, in pastel, mono print, motif, street art and in animated films of The Glasgow Venus.
- Not to be missed!
With the Chinese New Year well and truly celebrated – we move on to St Valentine’s day for another crack at that elusive thing called love. The truth is there is a lot of love about – we only need to look at what is happening in local communities to find it.
Govanhill is a good place to start. As this weekly ENEWS LETTER goes out to more than 1000 subscribers (email us to receive it – free!) that community is preparing for the official opening of their new offices and meeting space INSIDE the Govanhill Baths. Just over ten years ago the Baths were shut dramatically by Glasgow City Council after they evicted some sit-in protesters. Immediately, local people took to the streets in anger. Police horses were used to quell the raging crowd. Steel shutters went up on the building and it was left in limbo with many groups of folk left bereft of the community meeting place, healthy exercise and water therapy.
Since then, with love at the heart of it all, local people have found a new way to bring the baths back into use. They have devised a plan to make it a Health and Well-being Centre – using all three swimming pools. The plan has attracted funding from a variety of sources and it has even got the genuine support of Glasgow City Council. Love can conquer all!
There will be a big splash of VIPs on Saturday 4 February 2012 at the opening of the first phase of Govanhill Baths in Calder Street.
War Horse director Peter Mullan, local MSP Nicola Sturgeon and City Councillor Archie Graham who is responsible for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, will all be there at the historic launch.
The formal opening of the front part of the building as offices is the first tangible sign that the Govanhill Baths Trust will be able to re-vamp the entire building into a Community Wellbeing Centre. And with Historic Scotland, this week, confirming their support with funding, the next phase of work can get under way.
Said Andrew Johnson who has led the fight to retain the Baths in community use: ‘There is a great sense of relief and of achievement that we’ve managed to get this far – there has been so much support and work from so many people over the years. The Govanhill community’s return to the baths is the result of 11 years of hard work and commitment by many people in Govanhill, the Trust and the Friends of Govanhill Baths.’
A complex cocktail of funding from a wide variety of sources, support in kind by sponsors NORD Architecture and trojan efforts by local supporters see the dream beginning to come true: the Baths will return to public use. As the motto of the Trust says: ‘United We Will Swim!’
The listed Edwardian building has three pools, sauna and Turkish suites and was a major community hub till it was closed dramatically by the City Council after a long sit-in by protesters more than ten years ago.
Saturday will see the formal opening of the front part of the building. This houses the Headquarters of the Trust and its Centre for Community Practice. The Centre provides a series of community based programmes including healthy eating (Govanhill Grub) Create (an Arts programme) and dedicated learning and leisure facilities for local people.
The proposals for the next stage include the reinstatement of the learners’ pool, the ladies’ pool, the sauna and Turkish suite and the installation of a cafe, an arts suite and a greenhouse garden. The Historic Scotland funding has to be matched and ownership of the building has to be transferred by Glasgow City Council to the Baths Trust.
Said Andrew Johnson: ‘The ownership is a condition of Big Lottery funding and we’re negotiating with the City in the hope that that
can be achieved.’
The pool is making waves in other directions too. In October the National Theatre of Scotland will take one of the pools over for a three-week production. The legacy from that is expected to be a refurbished pool. In November a massive UK Sports injury exhibition will be located at the Govanhill Baths.
Meanwhile the Baths Trust is looking for photographs and memories of events held in the pool in past times. Contact them via their website: www.govanhillbaths.com
Work on re-developing the inside front of the Govanhill Baths building is going so well that the space could be ready to welcome people who attend the unique Panto in the Baths on Friday 9 December.
The Citizens Theatre, as good neighbours of the Calder Street Baths building and its Community Trust and in association with the local Centre for Community Practice (CCP), aim to stage two performances that day – a matinee and an evening show.
And they are looking for VOLUNTEERS! ‘It could be performing or production or front-of-house roles,’ said Lisa Peebles, the Trust administrator. ‘We’d be delighted if anyone could find the time to help. They should contact Helen Ross, manager of the CCP on 0141 433 2999 or email:email@example.com in the first place.’ And don’t forget to book your ticket for the Panto in the Baths too but via Lisa! See the website: www.govanhillbaths.com.
Just last month, the Trust received a grant of £400k from Historic Scotland to develop the first phase of the Baths building which will incorporate offices for the Trust and function space for events. The whole project will deliver a Wellbeing and community centre for the area in time.
As Glasgow Building Preservation Trust prepares for its AGM on Wednesday 16 November, it is still assessing the success of this year’s Doors Open Day. ‘A few key buildings have still to give us their visitor figures,’ said Anne McChlery, Director of the Trust. ‘But it looks as if numbers are similar to last year, despite the rain that weekend.’
One of the successes was Govanhill Baths which clocked 1076 people through the doors of the Calder Street listed building. More than 25 volunteer guides took groups of visitors through the premises to tell them what was happening with each bit as development plans get underway. Work on phase one of converting the place into a Community Wellbeing Centre has started. The foyer and one pool will be refurbished for use in time for the start of the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Visitors came from home and abroad. Many of them re-lived their memories of learning to swim in the Baths, competing for medals in galas or of having baths there in days when few families had inside toilets far less a bathroom.
One swimmer had his father’s medals from the 1930s and 40’s including a 1947 Sea Cadets Gold Medal. A lady who learned to swim there in the 1950s, wanted to book a family party in the main pool as soon as it becomes available. One person from the 60s determined to find the circular shower sprinkler in the sauna suite because she’s never seen or enjoyed one like it since! The “bather” from the 1980s who swore she had never had a bath as deep and as refreshing as in the slipper baths. And a woman who remembered brides coming in for a bath on their wedding day when it was commonplace to see their wedding dress draped over the door of the bath cubical. One visitor told of going to the steamie with her mum every Monday morning in the 1950s. A swimmer from the 1990s, now13, remembered her first dips in the toddlers’ pool as a two year old!
In the past four years of Doors Open Day at the Govanhill Baths, more than 6000 people have visited. Said Andrew Johnston who chairs the Trust which is bringing the pool back into public ownership: ‘Everyone agrees this pool should be up and running and open again. It is a part of Glasgow’s heritage and legacy. It should be open for visitors, spectators and competitors alike for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.’ He thanked all the volunteers and visitors for making Doors Open Day 2011 a ‘resounding success.’