The Western Baths Club is a Victorian era private swimming and leisure club founded in 1876. The club remains at its original site at 12 Cranworth Street, Hillhead, Glasgow. The 19th-century baths are protected as a category A listed building. Along with the Arlington Baths it is the one of two clubs of its kind left in Glasgow.
In recent years the club acquired adjacent ground and erected a new building, sympathetic to the surrounding architecture, to house a modern sports hall and gym thereby further enhancing the Club's facilities. It is also a founding member of the Historic Pools of Britain.
The Baths are well-known locally, and remain distinctive for their period trapeze and exercise rings over the swimming pool.
The 'Baths' as they are more commonly known have survived through mix fortunes over their many years of existence. Having at one point closed and lay almost derelict but were reopened, a similar fate nearly closed the Baths in the 1970s known as "the day the roof fell in". The huge Victorian roof collapsed at the shallow end of the pool and with the Cochrane oil-fired boiler rarely working, the whole place was trading at a loss and the membership rapidly dwindling.
Then 'cometh the hour' when a longstanding member who had previously offered to restore the Baths fortunes at an earlier AGM (and had been rejected) once again stepped forward and under his term as Secretary the Baths began a slow process of renewal. The boiler was replaced, despite there being no money to replace it and the whole roof was replaced. The Secretary William M Mann, known to most as Billy traded on his contacts and reputation in order to achieve advance funding - although there remained an element in the Club that were suspicious of his involvement as WM Mann was a 'property developer' and some believed that was his motive. It is clear that the motives were entirely honourable, perhaps twinged with sentiment but the Baths are now a thriving 'wet and dry' complex and no longer the bastion of the elite.
Since its opening in 1876, the Baths has been served by many distinguished people, John Mather famous for his involvement in Clydeport Authority, Ross Higgins of the John Smith and Son Ltd, Booksellers and Stationers as well as other hard working individuals; Ian G Crombie, John Dunbar, Mearns Brown and a host of other baths members of long standing.
The position of Bathsmaster was simply manager but the title referred to those of Victorian swimming pools/clubs. In its long life there have only been five postholders; Campbell, Jamieson, Wilson and Anderson. (First Bathsmaster's name to follow). Perhaps the best known to the older generation of members were Messrs Jamieson and Wilson, the latter being renowned for his long service to the Baths. When Mr Anderson retires later this year, the title of Bathsmaster will retire with him, thus bringing to an end an institution.
The Baths will continue to have a manager but the term has changed to General Manager (a title previously held by Mr Campbell who was promoted to General Manager and for a brief period in the 1980s Mr McKellar) who had overall control of all aspects of the Club.
Changed days since Alison F Blood with her book Kelvinside Days, she wrote, "there were of course other bath's in Glasgow, but the Western Baths were simply known as the 'Baths' and no one would have thought otherwise..."