THE PEOPLE’S POOL that was once Haggerston Baths is doomed. Hackney council has given up any pretence that it might one day reopen the Grade II listed 1903 building and is instead selling it.
The Victorian Society has told Loving Dalston that it supports the council’s decision to sell the bijou bath-house in Whiston Road E2 8BA.
The council says restoration would cost more than £25 million.
A pool supporters’ petition, now closed, attracted 1,648 supporters.
A Hackney press statement attributed to Mayor Jules Pipe but reading as if from a weeping crocodile says: “We would love to be able to invest in the building but unfortunately, with ever-shrinking resources, we simply cannot prioritise this project.
“However, we are determined to identify a long-term and sustainable future for the building…”
Loving Dalston was unable to get the council to rule out the possibility of the complex’s conversion to flats or a nightclub.
Victorian Society conservation adviser Sarah Caradec says: “Haggerston Baths are in a state of disrepair. Given this, we welcome the news that they are for sale — redevelopment is preferable to losing the building entirely”, although it was “surprising that interested parties had only until 19 June 2015 to register an interest”. In any
case Hackney council should ensure public access to the pool.
Caradec adds: “The popularity of local venues such as London Fields Lido shows the potential success of a restored Haggerston Baths.”
Hackney has a bad record with swimming facilities. Its replacement of Clissold Baths led to a flurry of lawsuits and a huge loss for taxpayers and its closure of the lido lasted years before public pressure finally told.
Once “the Haggy” was locally famed for its women-only, gays and ethnically specific swimming sessions.
Now its interior has been ruined by the vandal’s spray can, as the council-supplied picture, above left, shows, prompting supporters to wonder what is the point of the £100,000 a year the council claims to pay for security and maintenance.
Hackney closed Haggerston Baths in 2000. Locals fear the Britannia Leisure Centre at N1 5JU may be next.
David Altheer 230515
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