By Julie Badon
Leeds Civic Trust started the Blue Plaque scheme in 1987, to celebrate special people, events and buildings that had a great significance in the Leeds community.
So on a glorious sunny Saturday, 9 September 2023, Bramley Baths had the unveiling of their very own blue plaque by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant Kevin Sharp supported by the first winner of the inaugural John Battle Swimming Gala, Marley Parker.
This plaque acknowledges the great importance Bramley Baths holds, as it has seen our community through many changes.
Originally built to improve public health and well being in response to the outbreak of cholera, of importance through two world wars, offering a dance hall to all in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, enabling many in the community to learn to swim with confidence.
Then in 2013 the baths was saved from closure by the community when it became a not for profit, community led, social enterprise.
Sir John Battle explained that the baths was saved by the community when the “use it or lose it” campaign worked by bringing the people of Bramley back to the baths.
Ultimately it was the commitment and energy of the local people that has made the social enterprise work so well for the last 10 years slowly increasing turnover from around £300,000 to just under £1 million.
Sir John looked forward to possibly receiving another plaque in 100 years time as people continue to need and use this building to improve their health and well-being. As always it was up to the community to keep things going and he encouraged both young and old to continue to use all the facilities, including the community garden, so it could remain a positive tribute for all the people of Bramley.
CEO David Wilford added: “Everyone at the Baths and all the Bramley community was proud to receive the recognition of the blue plaque as a testament to the thousands of people who have learned to swim and worked at the baths.”
Civic Trust director Martin Hamilton said: “As a child, I learned to swim at Bramley Baths – joining thousands of people who have visited the baths over the decades. It is a real Bramley landmark, and I am delighted that we are now able to share its story more widely.”
Around 50 people come along to see the unveiling. Special guests were Bramley & Stanningley councillors Kevin Ritchie, Tom Hinchliffe, and Caroline Gruen. Also present were council leader James Lewis, Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Kevin Sharp, and Sir John Battle. Baths board members Nick Quin (chair) Cassie Fountain, Rajeev Dewedi, Josie Armitage and Julie Badon were also at the event.
The blue plaque was supported by funding from Inner West Community Committee.