Save Haggy Baths says Hackney’s top chronicler

haggbathsBNp: BNP Paribas-arranged showing to potential buyers of Haggerston Baths Hackney London 120615 © david.altheer@gmail.com
SwimmersLn: sign @ Haggerston Baths Hackney London 120615 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Form a queue, top: anyone want to buy a pool once owned by the people? Above: privatising the public domain – the one thing impossible here is swimming
Iain Sinclair Hackney London 150615 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Sinclair: It won’t wash

HACKNEY AUTHOR Iain Sinclair has pleaded for Haggerston Baths to be saved.

The writer of Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire and other non-fiction salutes to the soul of London says: “We should fight if necessary to preserve Haggerston Baths in some form… it should be kept as a pool rather than converted to yet another facility that can be used only by the wealthy.”

Speaking to a big audience at the Round Chapel in Clapton about London Overground, his latest book, Sinclair said he had just been lobbied by a local journalist (modesty forbids, etc…) to highlight the baths’ desperate plight since Hackney council quietly announced its decision to sell the Grade 2 listed building.

He had intended anyway to discuss the pool, he told his fans, adding how he used even to take an occasional bath at the Haggy and that his youngest daughter learnt to swim there. A visit last week revealed “shocking” decay.

HaggBathsTower: Haggerston Baths Hackney London 120615 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Tower: symbol of Victorian industrial power

Such pleas are unlikely to deter the Labour local authority from its decision to hire a City bank team to dispose of the baths, opened in 1903 and in 2000 abandoned to vandals.

Haggerston Pool Community Trust wants the council to “prioritise any bid which includes a swimming pool and other community facilities”.

In any case, the pool hall should be left intact.

The  trust was asking the borough to hold a public meeting to let people know its plans, and to listen to local views and ideas.

Liz Hughes, of the trust, told Loving Dalston that September 2015 would be ideal for such a meeting.

Anyone wanting the 250-year lease in order to develop the baths as flats and shops, hotel, club or private gym (even a social enterprise is interested in buying the lease), should have ready at least £1. Apply before the deadline of Friday 19 June 2015.

Be warned, you may face millions of pounds in expenses. A ruthless investor, of course, can find a way around that – as the saying goes, time heals all.

David Altheer 160615

Iain Sinclair: London Overground (Hamish Hamilton, June 2015), £16.99

* Backstory: Investors flood in for pool; From baths to brewery?; Hackney washes its hands of heritage siteSinclair’s Blakean visionPrivate profit from council giveaway 

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. Most photographs can be visually enlarged by pressing on them.

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