The campaign group hoping to save Aberdeen’s “unique” Bon Accord Baths has set out a plan to get people excited about the project – including launching an upcoming public open day.
In the 12 years since the general public were last able to set foot in the building, the historic pool and gym complex has been gathering dust, dirt and some water damage.
Of most concern to the Save Bon Accord Baths group, though, is the considerable damage that has been inflicted on the building by vandals breaking in since the start of lockdown in March.
Windows have been broken, racist graffiti has been sprayed on the walls of the pool – and people have even forced their way into the pool plant in the basement, the location of the only asbestos in the building, prompting safety concerns.
Steven Cooper, the secretary of the campaign group, said: “There are lots of points of forced entry.
“Despite the security measures that have been put in place people are still climbing over roofs, forcing windows open, removing boarding, forcing doors, finding any way into the building.
“Even the front door was heavily damaged in recent weeks as well.
“It’s incredibly disappointing, as a community group we’re working really hard to try and restore the Baths and bring them back into use, but every time someone breaks in and damages another original feature of the building, that makes our project harder to achieve.”
The group has been granted access to the building for the next seven weeks, during which they will be cleaning up the front section ahead of a planned public open day next month to mark the Baths’ 80th birthday.
It is hoped that allowing people in to see the Baths, and reminisce about happy times spent there, will lend energy to the group’s fundraising efforts to secure the building’s future.
Steven said: “We’d be looking to fundraise to prevent any further deterioration of the building, make it wind and watertight, and that would in turn help us get the public in the building more often and help to use the building more for community purposes, while we fundraise for the bigger project costs.”
Bruce Strachan, who also sits on the group’s board, added: “That’s the sort of method that Govanhill has used on comparable pools down in Glasgow.
“It allows you to have a presence in the building, occupy the building, which helps with security and fundraising, along with community awareness.”
Save Bon Accord Baths, which was founded by Craig Adams of city bar Krakatoa in 2015, has been looking to other heritage pools projects in Scotland for guidance and support – while acknowledging that the Art Deco pool is unlike any other in the country.
Steven said: “We’ve got to always be aware that Bon Accord Baths is unique, it’s got its own unique set of challenges, its own unique set of positive features as well.
“We’re a far bigger pool than some of the other heritage projects, but we also have a lot more ancillary space, which we can look at using for other purposes.
“A lot of the heritage pools are of Victorian era, whereas we’re more of the Art Deco thirties era, which makes Bon Accord unique in its own right.”