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March 23, 2016

Children of the Occupation

What kind of incident could provoke a civic protest resulting in the longest occupation of a building ever recorded in British history?  It might come as a surprise to non-swimmers, but there is nothing is more certain to generate local passion then the prospect of losing the local pool. 15 years ago, the beautiful Edwardian Public Baths in Govanhill were scheduled for closure by the Council. Some of the original protestors were children at the time of the occupation and a new exhibition – The Children of the Occupation – celebrates their involvement.


Catriona Stewart, Evening Times





FIFTEEN years ago today campaigners entered Govanhill Baths for what would turn into the longest occupation of a civic building in British history.

To mark the milestone, the Govanhill Baths Community Trust is launching a new multimedia exhibition – The Children of the Occupation.

And activists are invited to bring along their own memories from the occupation to add to the Baths’s growing archive.

There were many children who were part of the campaign – on the picket line, at the gala day, on marches and demonstrations.

At the exhibition launch there will be repeated screenings of documentary United We Will Swim… Again.

Visitors will be taken to see the largest swimming pool and guides will be explaining plans for the baths to reopen in 2018.

As well as celebrating the children of the occupation, organisers will be recruiting people to help raise the final £200,000 for the renovation in a sponsored swim campaign I am a Govanhill Swimmer.

As previously told in the Evening Times, the scheme asks people to take part in an international sponsored swim at their own pace.

No matter whether they are at Troon beach or Bondi Beach, people are asked to get involved – and send in a selfie with their written pledge.

Musician Tom Urie has already taken part by sending in his selfie and others have arrived from as far away as New Zealand.

The Govanhill Baths Community Trust has sourced £4million to reopen the pool but still needs a final push to raise the remaining cash.

Last year the Trust was gifted £500,000 apiece from Historic Environment Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Govanhill Baths was closed 14 years ago by Glasgow City Council, despite fierce opposition from the local community, including the occupation of the building.

After forming in 2003, the Trust has been working to reopen the venue as a wellbeing centre.

Under the new plans there would be a swimming pool and Turkish Baths, the former steamie turned into a theatre venue and community events and arts space with a cafe for local people.