Attic find may be key to baths’ past

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Last week’s appeal in The Extra by Govanhill Baths prompted a flurry of forays into southside lofts to rummage for old swimming pool memorabilia.

Celebrating the building’s centenary, archivist-in-residence Paula Larkin asked for any memories, photos, artefacts or historical knowledge about the baths over its 100 years history.

Former committee secretary and president Joe Welch (66) ventured into his loft in his home in Netherlee and uncovered a vintage pool lane-separating rope, with floats, in its original storage wheel and an old handwritten book of pool committee meeting minutes.

Dusting off the leatherbound ledger, Joe began leafing through minutes from 1935 until 1947 and found a curious insert: a Gestetner-ed typewritten copy of the swimming club rules with a surprising twist.

“The rules were typed up and dated ‘1906’,” Joe revealed to the baths curators when he handed over the tome for posterity — a full eight years before the official opening of the pool building itself.

“Either it was a typo, which is doubtful as its not an obvious one to replace 14 with 06 accidentally. Or the pool or club has a longer history than we think.”

The rules are headed up: “Govanhill Amateur Swimming Club, founded 1906” with the aim of “promoting the art of swimming and lifesaving by mutual instruction and practice”.

Could this have been the incubus of a movement to bid for the construction of a public swimming baths in Govanhill?

“It could well be,” said Bruce Downie, of Govanhill Baths. “This will certainly take pride of place among our permanent collection when it’s complete.”

Former policeman Joe Welch, whose beat included the baths, said at least one memory he’s happy to forget was his encounters with the resident ’roaches.

He added: “I’m very happy to hand over these items for display.

“Reading through the book is quite revealing and the minutes tell a whole new set of stories that add to our knowledge of the history of the club and the baths.”