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UK Chapeltown Baths, Sheffield - March 2017

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History

“Here in Sheffield we have a proud sporting heritage and it is important that we build upon that to create the right environment in which the sportsmen and women of the future can train, develop and thrive… But it isn’t just about the elite, it is about every man, woman and child in our city being fitter, healthier and enjoying physical activity” (Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield council).

Chapeltown Baths opened sometime at the beginning of the 1960s. Locally, the facility was very popular, especially among children, and many people have indicated that the place has played a big part in their lives. The baths also held regular swimming galas which always attracted large audiences as parents and guardians would flock to the stands to observe. However, despite the fondness for the centre, it was often regarded as being too small and outdated. One for the clubs that used the pool on a regular basis, for instance, had to establish a waiting list for the people wanting to join. 

New plans to redevelop the site into a larger, more modern, venue were launched by Sheffield Council sometime between 2010 and 2015. Plans for the new facility revealed that a two-storey extension would be added to the front of the existing building, to house a gymnasium, flexible activity/exhibition space and a community café. The aim was to create a welcoming and revitalised health and fitness centre for the local area. The main entrance was to be moved to the back of the current site where a large glazed atrium would be constructed, and, as for the pool itself, it was to be modernised and larger changing areas for both males and females were to be installed. Nevertheless, in the end the plans were scrapped as it was decided that the site was simply too small to revamp and in the long run would not offer value for money. 

After the original plans were abandoned, a plan to build a brand-new leisure centre was proposed. The new £7 million project was quickly accepted and construction of the facility began in 2015, up the road from the old site in High Green. The erection of the new leisure centre was said to have been one of the first leisure developments in Sheffield in over a decade. The Thorncliffe Recreation Centre is now open and most of the staff from Chapeltown Baths were said to have been moved over. Various reports suggest that the new pool is larger and has an extra lane, and that a new community has been established there. Although the new site does not have the same character, local residents generally seem happy with the new facility. 

As for the former Chapeltown Baths site, it has remained abandoned since the beginning of 2016. No plans have been set in stone yet; however, it is rumoured that the building will be demolished to make way for affordable housing. In the meantime, like most abandoned sites, the building has experienced increasing incidents of vandalism in recent months as local goons have managed to get their hands on a few brushes, several tins of Wilko One Coat and a box of safety matches. Smoke at the site was reported in March 2017, coming from the basement, and this resulted in the fire service being called to attend the scene. It is reported that they and had to cut their way into the building to extinguish a small fire. Fortunately, in this instance there was very little damage. As things stand presently, SCAFF Security Alarms Ltd. claim they have sealed the premises and installed various security systems to prevent any further vandalism. 

Our Version of Events

With a couple of hours to kill before we hit some of Sheffield’s legendary pubs later that evening, we decided to pop across to Chapeltown and take a look at the old public swimming pool that had recently been brought to our attention. None of us have ever been to Chapeltown before and I can’t say we were expecting to discover anything amazing there, but one thing we did notice is that the townspeople aren’t doing themselves any favours in terms of attracting tourists to the area. For instance, there’s a large sign in the centre of the town that reads, ‘Fast trains to Sheffield and Barnsley’, implying that you should probably get going as soon as possible. However, we chose to ignore the advice and hang around for a little while instead. 

Finding the old swimming pool wasn’t particularly difficult. We sort of stumbled across it before needing to consult Google Maps for guidance. After that, we lingered around the bus stop that’s positioned right outside for a while, trying to work out why the metal shutter that should have been covering the main entrance looked like someone had had a go at it with a tin opener. At first, we were convinced that some incredibly ambitious explorer had decided to break in that way, rather than simply peel off a board. But, as we discovered later on, it turns out it was the firefighters who’d hacked a hole in the shutter. Even so, there was no evidence that they’d managed to get into the building that way – unless they had the keys to the building – because the front door behind it was still locked up tight. Fortunately, though, the shutter wasn’t the only opening the fire service had created. It is thanks to those guys, then, and their arsenal of cutting tools that we managed to get inside. 

Once inside the building, we didn’t have to worry about being spotted from the outside since all the windows at ground level had been boarded over. This made capturing images a bit easier because we could wave the torches around a bit. However, the downside to our visit was that we were a bit late getting to this one as the local goons have been inside and clearly they got a little bit overexcited. Hence why there’s a mountain of shit in the pool and broken glass everywhere. On the positive side, however, the fire damage was minimal, limited to a very small section of the basement area. In that sense, the rest of the building remains unscathed. 

All in all, it took us around forty minutes to cover the building from the basement to the loft. Afterwards, we left feeling satisfied that something new in Sheffield had turned up, but even more delighted that we were heading straight for The Fat Cat for no fewer than eight pints of Kelham Island’s finest and a plate of homemade curry. Many hours later, after an innumerable number of pints, two curries and several packets of peanuts, we staggered back out onto the streets of Sheffield. We were tempted to have a quick look at Minitron while we were so close, but since the lampposts on the other side of the street were swaying in a very unusual manner, we decided to call it a day and head back into town for one final pint before bed. 

Explored with Soul. 
 

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Sad condition, the place has seen better days. But nice report; I like the pics 15 & 27

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