Victorian Poplar Baths reopening after 25 years as a derelict shell
- Credit: Archant
The historic Poplar Baths are soon reopening in east London with a major renovation after being closed and left derelict for a-quarter-of-a-century.
The Victorian structure in the East India Dock Road was commissioned under the 1846 Baths & Washhouses Act to provide leisure and bathing facilities for slum-dwellers of the old East End.
It was rebuilt in 1933 in an art deco style with the capacity to put a floor over the pool to use as a 1,400-seat theatre, a dance hall, exhibition gallery or sports hall.
But its popularity declined in the 1970s and 80s and it finally closed to the public in 1988, deteriorating into a derelict empty shell over the next two decades.
A public campaign has been running since 2006 to get Poplar Baths reopened, backed by community leaders including Sister Christine Frost who founded the Neighbours in Poplar charity.
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Tower Hamlets council finally agreed in 2010 to put cash in the kitty to bring the baths back into public use.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman said this week: “I am returning to the community this historic local landmark which was built during the great age of Victorian philanthropy.”
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A full restoration has been under way with historic features retained, as well as 100 new low-cost homes added to the scheme to help ease the East End’s housing shortage.
The mayor added: “We’re keeping that spirit of philanthropy alive—despite the government’s continued attacks on the most vulnerable.”
Poplar Baths are being transformed from a derelict building into “a first class facility and investment in the community.”
The decision to reopen the complex was announced at last Wednesday’s Tower Hamlets cabinet meeting.