Bon-accord Baths – white elephants, red herrings and blue-arsed baboons

White elephants

The Bon-Accord Baths is one of Aberdeen’s most classy buildings with its splendid architecture and Art Deco features. Built in the 1930s it was officially opened in 1940 and became familiarly known to Aberdonians as the ‘up-town baths’ – other baths being down at the beach. Beach baths were knocked down years ago but the up-town baths lived on despite neglect from a string of councils. The pool is big – just over 36 metres X 12 metres but not big enough for the Olympic sized pool seen as essential to bringing on Aberdeen’s Olympians of the future despite having punched above its weight with several notable swimmers such as David Wilkie, Athole Still, David Carry. Olympic pools must be 50 metres X 25 metres but it cannot be beyond the ability of someone to extend the existing pool while retaining the essential features of the building. But, girn the sports officials at Aberdeen Cooncil, it’s not fit for purpose. Not fit for purpose in bureaucrats speak is, we want something new and we demand public money to get it. Fit for purpose to the bureaucrats is something like a box with a big rectangle of water – never mind the quality see the length. Cost 15, 20, 25, 30 million – who cares – it’s public money. Easy come easy go. Architecture matters. There are buildings in Aberdeen that mean something to its citizens and buildings that have attracted notoriety by their hideousness out of keeping with their environment – think of the YMCA on Union Street. Who got a bung to let that through? As I recall when the Cooncil closed the baths it was being used by lots of people who couldn’t afford to join expensive health clubs. They used the pool, they used the keep-fit equipment. I used it. Funny, isn’t it that the present Cooncil keeps picking on the least fortunate, the least able to defend themselves? Well, no it’s not.

Red herrings

It all comes down to it being too expensive to run. Judging which parts of our built heritage to abandon solely in terms of money is shameful. The Cooncil is supposed to represent the wishes of its electorate, remember them? There is no integrity in abandoning architecture of value for the box housing the Olympic pool.

Blue-arsed baboons

There are people within the Cooncil on spectacularly high salaries – surely just one of them can come up with an idea to retain the up-town baths as a public building? No? Then sack them because if you ask around town you’ll find plenty better-informed and talented individuals who can do just that. Aberdeen needs the up-town baths – as a visual and emotional landmark revered by Aberdonian. Can’t say the same about the Cooncil.

For some great pics of the Bon Accord Baths blog see someone else’s blog – http://www.28dayslater.co.uk

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