Welcoming its first members way back in 1882, Drumsheugh Baths boasts a unique status as the Capital’s oldest private swimming club.
The Drumsheugh Baths Company commissioned the architect Sir John James Burnett (1857-1938) to design a building on a steeply sloping north facing site in Belford Road, formerly old Queensferry Road. This stretch of Belford Road in which the baths sit was being redeveloped in the closing years of the 19th Century as the challenge of the steep site overlooking the Dean Village was taken up and the village itself was tidied up, given a prestigious workmen’s tenement, Well Court, and a new Board School.
The building is designed in the Moorish style and has a deeply shadowed entrance under a low-pitch stone bracketed roof. This style was favoured for public and private baths at that time. Burnett trained in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and we can be sure that this exceptional education furnished him well to design imaginatively and informatively in this period of historical revivals.
The Club opened in 1882 with William Cameron as its manager. This building was destroyed by fire on the night of Saturday 6 February 1892. Burnet’s company, Burnet Son and Campbell was responsible for reconstructing the baths on the original site at an estimated cost of 6000. Shortly after the Club went into liquidation and the present company, Drumsheugh Baths Club Limited was formed in 1902 to acquire the building and its fittings and fixtures from the liquidator Frances A. Bringloe C.A for 4500.
The shareholders of the company were mostly residents in the surrounding area and included clerks, merchants, spinsters, advocates, doctors, stockbrokers, soldiers and mining engineer.
THE HISTORY OF DRUMSHEUGH BATHS CLUB
Built in 1882, like many other Turkish baths and swimming baths of its day, the interior at Drumsheugh had a distinctly Mediterranean flavour, with slender Moorish-style columns and arches visible throughout. The Board of Drumsheugh Baths Club Limited has a long-term aim to conserve and restore the Victorian features of the club.
The Drumsheugh Baths has been forced to face its fair share of challenges over the years. A terrible fire broke out in February 1892, gutting the building and destroying many of its original features. Thankfully, though, the baths were insured and were swiftly rebuilt.
A decade later, the company running the baths plunged into liquidation and a new firm, the Drumsheugh Baths Club Limited, purchased the pool’s assets in 1902. It would not be the last time the club experienced financial difficulties.
An extensive million pound major refurbishment of the pool tank and surround, new poolside changing cubicles, upgrading the lighting systems and replacement of plant equipment in the early 2000s saw the club face bankruptcy as it struggled to cope with loan repayments. A plea was sent out to the club’s 500+ members who rallied round and saved the historic facility from closure.
Drumsheugh Baths continues to offer members a unique swimming experience in beautiful surroundings. Most recently, work has been carried out in our upstairs gym, changing and shower areas to improve members experience.