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Campaigners call for 1960s Halifax pool and murals to be listed

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Heritage campaigners have submitted a bid to list the 1960s Halifax Swimming Pool, which is at risk of being flattened and replaced 

The building was designed by borough architects FH Hoyles and JL Berbiers and, according to Twentieth Century Society case worker Grace Etherington, ‘strikes an interesting balance between modern and contextual design’.

It also features two internal ceramic murals depicting British pond life by mid-century artist Kenneth Barden, who is mentioned in Historic England’s Introduction to Heritage Assets.

But the owner of the pool, Calderdale Council, has mooted a sale of the site – and likely demolition – to help fund a new swimming pool and leisure centre, designed by GT3 Architects, that it is developing.

new leisure centre 0

new leisure centre 0

Source: GT3 Architects

Calderdale Council is developing a new leisure centre by GT3 Architects to replace Halifax Swimming Pool and the existing North Bridge Leisure Centre

Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, told the AJ: ‘Halifax Pool opened in 1966 and is unfortunately now in need of significant and costly ongoing work just to keep it running safely. We know that both the building and the activities are much loved by local people.

‘We have been working on plans for a new, state-of-the-art combined pool and sports centre on the site of the existing North Bridge Leisure Centre in Halifax. We strongly believe that the people of Halifax and the wider borough deserve the best facilities.’

But she added: ‘I must emphasise that, in spite of speculation, no decision has been made about the future of the existing pool building.’

Etherington said she hoped a listed status for the building might be a ‘helpful tool to guide decision-making about the building’s future’.

 Building overview 

The building strikes an interesting balance between modern and contextual design. It has clean lines and blocky forms, and the way that the internal spaces are grouped and expressed externally, neatly stepping down the sloping site, works with the variety of facade textures in local materials to add interest to the elevations. These design features create a well composed and thoughtful building that otherwise may have been a mismatched or bulky addition to the area’s predominantly historic grain.

The interior of the swimming pool features two ceramic murals by artist Kenneth Barden (1924-1988), depicting British pond life. The mural is a collage of different plants and insects, layered in a geometric motif with vibrant blues, reds, purples and greens. The aquatic theme ties in with the building’s function and creates a lively backdrop to the diving pool.

Grace Etherington, senior caseworker, The Twentieth Century Society 

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