“There were, of course, other baths in Glasgow, but when we said “the Baths” we meant “the Western Baths” and never supposed that anyone could think otherwise.” So said Alison F. Blood in her Kelvinside Days, written during the 1920s in Ceylon when her thoughts strayed back to her youth spent in Glasgow.
The Western Baths in Glasgow certainly holds a particular affection in the minds of a host of people, not only in the city’s west end from which it takes its name, but in many parts of Scotland and places furth of the country. There are former members in all parts of the world and, just as “once a Glaswegian, always a Glaswegian”, it is true that if you have enjoyed swimming at the Baths you will always remain thirled to the famous old building in Hillhead.
It is not unusual for elderly former members from overseas to call at the Baths to ask if they can look around the club where they learned to swim so many decades before. The first question is always, “Do you still have the Trapeze, travelling rings and other gymnastic equipment over the pool?”
The list of the first subscribers in 1876 gives some indication as to the type of person who joined the baths in its early years. Their addresses were of the substantial west end terraces and villas and their occupations were such as merchant, manufacturer, ship builder, ship owner, physician, banker, professor, accountant and writer (in the sense of the law). They include many whose names are well know in Glasgow to this day, such as Adam Teacher, a partner in the whisky firm; James Fraser, warehouseman of Buchanan Street; Andrew and William McGeoch, ironmongers; and J.A. and W.G. Blackie, publishers.
A trip down memory lane
These memories may come from the club archives or they may be from information provided to us by members.
We have a group of members within the club, Linda, Sam and Anna, who have done a fantastic job thus far archiving lots of club information and bringing to life information they have discovered.
They have a display outside the entrance to the bar and bistro, please take the time when you are in to look at the display and the work they have done.
We are always looking for information to add to our historical database, so if any members or even past members reading this have any stories of their own which you think have relevance to the Western Baths we would love to hear from you.
To start this page off we have been given some great archive material from long term member and Past Chairman, Sandy McGarvey. It relates to Sandy’s Father who was himself a long time member of the Baths and his exploits in the 2nd World War. It is of particular relevance at this time as the RAF celebrates its centenary.
We hope you enjoy the attached information from the archives: