By John Baron
Bramley Baths is going from strength to strength – 10 years after it became a community led social enterprise.
The Grade II listed building is the only remaining Edwardian bath house in Leeds and one of the few remaining in the country.
And the Baths’ AGM this week heard that last year the enterprise had generated a turnover of £916,426 in its last financial year – a record amount for the Baths and the third year in a row after Covid that the organisation has recorded a surplus.
AGM chair Caroline Gruen that the ten years since the community took over the running over the Baths from Leeds City Council. “Ten years has flown by! This AGM is a reflection of how far we have come in the past decade. I remember when the community took over the running of the Baths from the council – it was unusual and even controversial at the time as there weren’t many successful examples of this around.
“I hope these results show what a success we have been and prove there is value in setting up social enterprises like this. We set off as a Baths and a gym, although there latter wasn’t very well used. We now have lovely new gym equipment and that is starting to really take off along with all the other things we do.”
Cllr Gruen, who will soon stand down from the board of the baths and will also return as a Bramley & Stanningley councillor next May, said the Baths were putting on special monthly events to showcase their tenth anniversary year and said her highlights included the unveiling of a historic blue plaque by Leeds Civic Trust, the first John Battle Swimming Gala and the coronation celebrations.
She also paid tribute to the volunteer board of trustees, who give their time and expertise for free, and the paid staff for their creativity and dedication.
Chief executive David Wilford described the past year as ‘fantastic’ and pointed the Light Night Leeds event in the pool, as well as increasing membership from 260 in April 2021 to 824 in July 2023, along with over 1,500 children a week learning to swim at the Baths.
He said a real living wage had been introduced for all staff aged 18 and over along with an increase for under 18s, and hailed the Baths’ partnership working with health organisations such as Barca-Leeds.
Built in 1904 in response to the cholera outbreak, Bramley Baths was constructed on top of The Globe Foundry, with its landmark, the large Kirkstall Brick chimney breast, seen for miles across the city.
It was first used as a washing facility, allowing people to wash, swim and use the Russian Steam Baths – a fashionable and ‘healthy’ pastime for the Edwardians.