Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

JUSTICE MILL LANE, BON ACCORD BATHSLB20677

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
B
Date Added
27/06/1991
Local Authority
Aberdeen
Planning Authority
Aberdeen
Burgh
Aberdeen
NGR
NJ 93400 5661
Coordinates
393400, 805661

Description

Alexander McRobbie of City Architects Department (with Thomas Henderson, Chief Engineer), 1936-40. Art Deco. Rectangular 14-bay swimming pool extending behind slightly projecting cross-arm of NW (entrance) block to form T-plan, with austere 19-bay granite NW (entrance) front onto Justice Mill Lane. Granite ashlar to N (entrance) block, brick to NE return, cement rendered to SE elevation and SE (swimming pool) block. Geometrical Art Deco glazing.

NW (ENTRANCE) BLOCK: symmetrical; wall-plane slightly advanced at 7-bay centre-piece which contains 3 entrance bays, articulated by 4 full height projecting vertical mullions (flagpoles missing). 3 windows contained within mullions at gallery level (4-pane hopper glazing, arranged vertically); doors below have etched glass with city of Aberdeen flag motifs. Outer cantre bays have 2 pairs of 4-pane windows (vertical windows with horizontal glazing) at intermediate basement and mezzanine levels. 6 tall windows at ground floor in shallow-recessed horizontal strip in each of outer flanking bays; pair of windows to SE return in similar recessed horizontal strip. Rear elevation ground and 1st floor windows predominantly 8-pane centre, divided by 2 wider metal transoms, opening as hoppers above and below, with 8-pane margins.

SE (SWIMMING POOL) BLOCK: stepped with semi-circular roof at centre, advanced at ground floor to form gallery level, flanked by flat roof sections with roof lights NE, SE and SW elevation with tall paired windows under single window, all with geometric glazing. Multi-paned horizontal windows to gallery level.

INTERIOR: (seen 1991). Curved walls of entrance hall lined with blond 'ripple' sycamore timber panelling, continued throughout; Art Deco geometrically divided glazing continued on interior.

POOL: raked seats; shallow segmental vaulted concrete roof supported on concrete piers, concrete galleries between; (original concrete diving boards to SE). Symmetrical stairs from entrance gallery stepping down to ground floor changing rooms and to pool; decorative paired concrete pylons and wallmounted clock at N screen wall of pool with viewing gallery. Chrome fittings.

Statement of Special Interest

A rare surviving example of an inter-war public baths in Scotland and a good example of Art Deco architecture. The building has significant streetscape presence with an austere frontage achieved by articulating the Art Deco style in granite. The interior of the building is richly detailed with the austerity of the façade giving way to an entrance lobby with curved walls lined with blond 'ripple' sycamore' timber panelling and chrome fittings. The vaulted roof of the swimming pool, elegantly supported by large concrete arches, allows for the walls to be punctured by large windows flooding the space with natural light. This space also retain many of its original fixtures and fittings including the raked timber seating and the sculptural concrete diving board platforms. The underwater lighting along the length of the pool is believed to be one of the early examples of such lighting. The pool is described as '1930s baths architecture at its very best' (Gordon and Inglis, p225).

Bon Accord baths was constructed to provide a centrally located public baths in Aberdeen, as previously the public bathed at baths overlooking Aberdeen beach. Although the foundation stone was laid in 1936 the building was not completed until August 1940 and cost £37,000. The swimming pool is 120 feet long x 42 feet wide with the water varying in depth from 3 to 15 feet. Flanking the pool is raked seating for 1000 spectators to view the many galas that were held at the pool. The baths closed in March 2008 and is currently unoccupied (2013).

Swimming clubs and bath houses were established in Scotland from the 1850s following the enactment of the 1846 Act to Encourage the Establishment of Public Baths and Wash-houses, which was established to improve general public health with access for all classes of citizen. With the rapid expansion of urban population, often living and working in unsanitary conditions, bath and washhouses were seen as essential public services. The Act, which affected the entirety of Britain, encouraged local authorities to open up these facilities in areas of dense population. These bath and washhouses soon started to cater for recreational swimming, rather than washing, and became a hugely popular social past time during the 20th century.

Alexander McRobie worked for the Aberdeen City Architects' Department from 1936 leaving before 1944 when he moved to Edinburgh to work as an assistant with the Department of Health for Scotland. He was described by the architect, Alexander Buchanan Gardner, as 'a competent and skilful architect'.

List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).

References

Bibliography

W A Brogden Aberdeen: An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1986) p.67. C McKean The Scottish Thirties (1987), p88. I Gordon and S Inglis, Great Lengths (2009), pp224-225. Ryden LLP Bon Accord Baths: Planning Brief (29 October 2009) at http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/nmsruntime/saveasdialog.asp?lID=44610&sID=2991 (accessed 22 March 2013). http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=400887 (accessed 22 March 2013). www.scran.ac.uk (accessed 22 March 2013).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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