The Baths

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.