Under-fire building granted listed status

Ray Nortrop outside the St James Pool and Health Club, in Waterdale.
Ray Nortrop outside the St James Pool and Health Club, in Waterdale.

A DISTINCTIVE town centre venue under the threat of demolition, has been saved after it was awarded listed building status.

Campaigners fighting to save Doncaster’s long-standing St James’ Baths, lodged an application to have it listed after it was due to be knocked down as part of the council’s £300 million Civic and Cultural Quarter (CCQ).

Now following the Government decision, which was been backed by English Heritage, council chiefs said the venue, built in 1932 and used for concerts by 1960s popstars such as The Beatles, The Searchers and Freddie and the Dreamers, could now become part of the CCQ.

Campaigner Ray Nortrop, who made an application to the Secretary of State, received a confirmation letter that the venue was awarded Grade-II listed status.

English Heritage also attached an ‘Advice Report’ to Mr Nortrop outlining why the Waterdale-based venue was saved.

It recommended the status because many of the building’s original features such as mosaic tiling and Turkish baths suite and pool are still intact and able for multi-purpose use.

On the building’s ‘rarity’, it stated: “The Turkish baths (dry heat), and partially retiled Russian bath (steam) are an increasingly rare example of a once common building form, of which only around 20 remain in England.

“As a suite, it is a good representative example of an inter-war Turkish baths, which though less ornate than Victorian or Edwardian examples, survives largely intact, retaining mosaic floor and wall tiling and original drinking fountain.”

It added that the venue retains its distinctive features and therefore it “merits designation in the national context.”

Peter Dale, director of regeneration and environment, said: “A swimming pool and leisure centre was always part of the Civic and Cultural Quarter masterplan so we will look at incorporating the St James’ Pool and Health Club into the scheme.”

Mayor Peter Davies said he was “delighted” that the building, currently used as a health club with pool and gym had been saved.

He said: “The St James’ Pool and Health Club is a wonderful public asset particularly the Turkish and Russian Baths which are in fine condition and a rare example with only a handful remaining in the UK.”

Michael Hart, interim chief executive of Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust, hailed the news as a new era for the centre and that the community would be happy to hear it will stay.

The CCQ is set to transform Waterdale. The first phase includes a new public square and council offices.