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


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NS 56773 67200
256773, 667200


W Clarke and G Bell, 1876-81. 1 and 2 storeys and basement, symmetrical 13 bays (arranged 1-4-3-4-1), outstanding Byzantine and Gothic style swimming baths with central 3-bay raised section, 4-bay linking sections and single bay pavilions. Club building to front with swimming pool at rear. Snecked rubble with ashlar dressings, rock-faced rustication to basement with plinth. Ground floor cill band.

E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: CENTRAL BAYS: 3-bay recessed, arcaded portico with sculpted spandrels, flanked by 3-light colonette mullioned windows with cusped heads. Windows at first floor round-arched, 2-light in outer bays with corbelled cills, 3-light in centre bay with balustraded balcony. Bracketted eaves, corniced to 3 faces. LINKING BAYS: 4 2-light cusp-headed windows with raked cills, 4-light with stone transomes in S bays, upper lights blind. PAVILIONS: raised with vertically linked colonette mullions and architrave, 2-light pointed windows; frieze level string course. Plain eaves cornice.

Predominantly, piended slate roof with finials. Wallhead stacks to returns. Cast-iron railings on coped boundary wall. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: Arcaded round-arched hall screen. Arcaded, glazed screens with geometric glazing bars to poolside changing rooms. Lancet windows in pool hall gables. Decorative cast-iron roof brackets to main pond with initials W and B detailed in the roundels. Many original circa 1900 fittings and pool apparatus, including hanging rings and trapeze. Spittoons and corner steps to pool. Extensive polychromatic floor and wall tiling. Top-lit cooling room with carved cornice. Panelled rooms. Grand imperial staircase and columned hall to entrance.

Statement of Special Interest

Western Baths Club is an outstanding, extremely rare and intact example of an early private members swimming facility in Scotland with Turkish Baths and other facilities. Surviving largely as it appeared as it was built in the late 19th century and maintaining its ornamental style, the building emulates the form and air of a Venetian Palazzo. It was designed and constructed by prominent architects of the time, Clarke and Bell, for the residents of the burgh of Hillhead following the launch of the Western Baths Company Limited in 1875. A part of the Western Baths Club¿s special interest lies in the fact that it has continued in use as a recreational facility since first opening its doors in 1876. The Western Baths Club was established as a subscription club and was constructed at the cost of £20 000. By the 1870s Hillhead was still an independent burgh. Families with wealth were moving to Glasgow's West End with the draw of the new university, West End Park and an array of leisure facilities to keep them occupied. The Baths offered patrons a unique and relaxing escape from daily life. It offered a variety of treatments and its Directors were keen to keep up with current fashions. It boasted the largest swimming pond in Scotland, until Aberdeen's Esplanade Baths (now demolished) opened in 1898. In 1907 they commissioned architect John Keppie to make some alterations to the therapeutic Baths section, and this was complete by 1908. By 1933 it had the first filtration system installed in Scotland, becoming one of few in Britain with this technology. Interestingly, this system was only first replaced in 1988. Women were allowed to bathe during limited hours from early on in the Baths history, and by WWI the number of ladies subscribing was greater than that of men. Ladies petitioned for more time at the pool, however it was only in 1965 when mixed bathing was eventually allowed. Late 20th and early 21st centuy alterations include the replacement of Walter MacFarlane's cast iron dale, reinstatement of the frigidarium dome, and a sports hall extension. William Harley was the first to offer indoor baths in Glasgow, at Willowbank in 1804. Swimming became widely popular as a sport during the late 19th century as more residences in the UK gained access to mains water supply and could therefore wash and bath at home. Private swimming clubs were established to cater to the professional classes who were becoming more aware of the benefits of exercise and general health and wellbeing. The pools being built were enlarged, to accommodate the shift from plunge pools to large swimming pools. The Arlington Baths, Glasgow, was the first private swimming club to be opened in Britain in 1871. The Arlington Baths Club proved so successful that its membership topped 600 by 1875. Thus a wave of successive clubs opened in Glasgow such as the Western Baths at Hillhead. Edinburgh got its own club in 1884 with the opening of Drumsheugh. William Clark and George Bell established their practice in Glasgow by 1843. The practice was responsible for a number of prominent public buildings in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, including Glasgow's Fish Market in the Bridgegate (see separate listing). When Bell died on 4 January 1887, the practice, by then a loose partnership with Robert Alexander Bryden, (b. 1841), was continued by his son George Bell II (b. 1854), who had been articled to the firm in 1869 and became a partner in 1880. Category changed from B to A (2013). List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).

Victorian or Victorian style Turkish Baths are a rare building type with only around 11 remaining in the United Kingdom (Shifrin, 2015).

Category changed from B to A and list description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13). Listed building record update in 2024.



2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1894). Plans in Strathclyde Regional Archives.

Dean of Guilds H/66, H/95. E Williamson, A Riches & M Higgs, Buildings of Scotland - Glasgow (1990), p. 348.

Dr I Gordon & S Inglis, Great Lengths: The historic indoor swimming pools of Britain, (2009), pp. 72-75.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects (accessed 13-06-2013).

Shifrin, M. (2015) Victorian Turkish Baths, Historic England in partnership with Liverpool University Press. pp. 229-234.

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.

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Printed: 25/07/2024 11:53