Britain’s 10 Most Beautiful Abandoned Swimming Pools

(Image: Harry Mole, reproduced with permission)

Haggerston Baths (above) in Hackney, London, are at the centre of a regeneration campaign that will hopefully one day see the historic pool reopen.  Others aren’t so lucky, and a decade into the twenty first century, Britain’s beautiful historic swimming pools – built largely in the Edwardian and Art Deco architectural styles – are becoming an increasingly endangered species.

(Image: Matt Verrill, cc-sa-2.0)

Once a luxury to some and a necessity to many, the public bathhouse was rendered obsolete by modern washing facilities in homes, and councils have sought to replace the grand yet faded facilities with new pools to suit modern tastes.  In this article, we’ll explore a selection of Britain’s finest abandoned swimming baths – some on the verge of restoration (like Manchester’s Victoria Baths, above), others overcome by urban decay.

Chadderton Baths, Oldham, Greater Manchester

(Images: Jon Wild, reproduced with permission)

Chadderton’s Art Deco swimming baths are among several important civic buildings in this borough of Oldham.  Four-times Olympic swimming champion Henry Taylor once served as attendant at the pool, which opened in 1937 and closed in 2006 after cracks were discovered in the roof.  The Chadderton Historical Society has tried unsuccessfully to save the abandoned building, which Oldham Council is reportedly set on demolishing, despite the wishes of Chadderton residents and support from local councillors.




    Is there any way of purchasing these?

  • Tom

    That’s a good question.  Some of are under the control of regeneration organisations, which will hopefully be able to bring them back to life in one form or another.  Others (the most derelict) are likely still local authority owned, and will probably deteriorate further prior to eventual demolition.  You could always ask though 🙂

  • Oldmothercath

    What a waste.

  • Anne Jessel

    A wonderful website. I shall include this link on my Lost Lidos I’m pleased to see Kings Meadow Baths Reading here too – a Baths close to my and the Campaigners hearts – after protecting from the bulldozers for the last 10 years and securing a Grade II Listing 2004, it is threatened once again. We’re still fighting. These baths depicted here are beautiful.

  • Ada

    Govanhill Baths in Glasgow (aka Calder Street Public Baths and Washhouse) were saved by the locals after a 10 year fight with the council (and a 160 day occupation of the building!) and is now in the ownership of Govanhill Baths Community Trust who are tasked with its regeneration/refurbishment. Worth a look and they’re very welcoming of visitors.

  • Tom

    Ada thanks for your comment and it’s great to hear the baths have been saved. We’re big fans of historic pools and baths at Urban Ghosts. We’d love to do a follow-on article so if you know anyone we could chat to please do send them in our direction!

  • beautiful swimming pools. really Amazing..

  • Tom

    Rhod you’re correct that England may have been more accurate that Britain for this article’s title. However, England is in Britain (and as such, so are all these pools) and we had planned a follow-on article (long overdue!) to cover other abandoned pools in Scotland and Wales. That’s something we’ll get to in due course, hopefully sooner rather than later, and should hopefully make the title slightly more relevant!

  • Badg

    Kings Meadow Baths in Reading has now been given by the local council to a company for redevelopment into a private spa and restaurant. This was against the wishes of many of the town’s residents – especially as a large part of the adjoining park is also being given to the developers and will be lost to the townsfolk.

  • Tom

    Badg thanks for the update. Pleased to hear that Kings Meadow Baths will be saved rather than demolished, but sorry to hear that it hasn’t happened in accordance with the wishes of locals. Same too for the park.


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