THE battle for independence is seemingly being fought out in an exclusive swimming pool in the leafy suburbs of Glasgow’s West End.

At the Western Baths Club (right) the Unionist burghers of G12 have been employing underhand techniques in a bid to destabilise the onward march to freedom.

At least one Better Together-supporting bather has taken to throwing the club’s copies of The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland, into the bin.

So bad is the problem caused by this petty No voter that bosses at the pool have been forced to take decisive action.

Yesterday morning a laminated notice was stuck on the door.

The National:

“Some members have been witnessed throwing the ‘National’ newspaper into the bin. Clearly this is unacceptable,” the management wrote.

“If you don’t like a publication please just ignore but allow others the option of reading it.”

That’s not the only problem the club faces, as it appears light-fingered members are pilfering the other papers, slipping them into their bags and denying the other puffed-out athletes the opportunity to relax post-workout with the news.

“Newspapers for the benefit of all members, are being removed during the day, presumably for the personal satisfaction of the person taking them. We would remind members that newspapers should not be removed at any time during opening hours,” the stressed private leisure centre chiefs chide.

“Should someone wish for a newspaper to be put aside for them at the end of the day please speak to a member of stafff and we shall do our best to accommodate such a request.”

Membership to the exclusive 141 year old club, which boasts its own bar, bistro and billiards room, costs £570, with an entrance fee of £335.

There is a hefty waiting list to be considered, though .

One member fresh from a lunchtime breast-stroke told us: “To be honest I just come here to swim. I didn’t even know they did newspapers.

“I’ve never personally read The National, I get the Telegraph, but that seems a bit much.”

The Western Baths Club did not respond to requests for a comment.



By Hamish MacPherson 

FOR more than 140 years, the Western Baths have been a haven for those citizens of Glasgow and beyond who like to swim, bathe and just relax in pleasant surroundings.

Arlington Baths, a mile away, was the first private swimming club of its kind in Britain, opened in 1871 at a time when the Victorian middle classes were embracing physical exercise and healthiness in general.

Opening five years later in the then independent burgh of Hillhead, the Western Baths in Cranworth Street began as an upmarket swimming pool catering for the nouveau riches of a burgh which was gradually being colonised and gentrified by the professional classes of Glasgow, with the new university a major draw.

Designed by the architects William Clark and George Bell, who were responsible for a number of public buildings in and around Glasgow such as schools and churches, the Baths were built at a cost of £20,000 with subscribers that included Adam Teacher of the eponymous whisky distillers and JA and WG Blackie, publishers.

The building was noted for its Venetian features, with Byzantine and Gothic influences also present in the design. When opened on August 1, 1876, the baths had the largest swimming pool by area in Scotland.

Remarkably, the baths have provided recreational facilities for its members ever since, with Turkish baths and other facilities added over the years.

Almost from the outset, women members were allowed limited access to the facilities, and mixed bathing only began in 1965.

The baths deteriorated during the middle part of the 20th century but Billy Mann, a banker and entrepreneur, stepped in and single-handedly oversaw their revival. The club’s adjacent sports hall is named after him.

An Alasdair Gray mural at the entrance marks the writer and artist’s two year spell as artist-in-residence. The main building was awarded A-listed building status three years ago with Historic Environment Scotland describing it as “an outstanding, extremely rare and intact example of an early private members swimming facility in Scotland”.