Ladywell Playtower is a Grade II listed Victorian Bath House completed in 1884. This large two storey Gothic structure is one of the first examples of public swimming pools in the country, boasting an imposing façade through prominent architectural features and detailing.
This includes an impressive red-brick cylindrical tower, oriel and sash windows, and slate roofing. The original brick and stone boundary wall remains to the front of the building, although the railings have gone, and the towers conical roof was removed in 1907.
The building was predominantly made up of a first-class and second-class pool hall which served as a bathing and leisure destination for the local population. The building also contained offices, changing-rooms and live in accommodation for the buildings wardens who would stoke the boilers to heat the premises.
The site has a rectangular footprint (approximately 3,309sqm) arranged around a central courtyard and is situated in the same curtilage as the Coroners Court and Mortuary buildings (approximately 911sqm). Together these three buildings represent the historical civic heritage of the area.
Since the Playtowers closure in 2004 and damage sustained by an extensive fire in 2006, the building has fallen into disrepair, resulting in its placement on Historic England’s at risk register. The rear pool hall (originally the second-class pool) was badly damaged in this fire but remains standing. The rest of the building remains intact and can clearly be seen from the adjacent churchyard. In 2012 the damaged roof structure was renewed and the decay through water ingress halted.
The first-class pool halls impressive space is double height with a long, hipped lantern running the length of the slate roof to light the pool. Inside, a raised viewing gallery ran along the outside of the space. The shell of the viewing gallery and the iron balustrading that lined it remain intact. The pool basin has been temporarily floored over allowing for the buildings use as a gymnasium from the 1880s.
Listed Information can be found here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1391811