Stunningly gorgeous book - witty, informative, with terrific photos. Discovered amazing facts about pools on my doorstep and have planned pilgrimages to others nationwide. Inspiring stuff. The perfect present for anyone interested in swimming, social history or architecture. And who says you can't judge a book my its' cover - it even FEELS fab.
This is for anyone with interest in sport or architectural heritage- it's a beautifully presented book which will make you really regret the sporting facilities we have lost or are in danger of losing. Most people will be familiar with at least one of the pools in the book- and will be interested in the social history of encouraging swimming. The book even made me nostalgic for school swimming lessons at Bristol North......
A fascinating read. Had no idea the country had so many beautiful indoor swimming pools, or that so many are in desperate need of restoration. Anyone with an interest in the country's sporting architectural heritage should read this book.
The publication of Great Lengths is a milestone in our growing national awareness of such an important piece of our shared heritage - public baths. These are places where a century of Briton's swam, bathed, worked, kept fit, competed and socialised. The book is amazing in its coverage of the topic with buildings from all over the country visited, photographed and thoroughly researched. Its a wonderful resource book as well as a fascinating read. Buy the book, visit the buildings and swim in them while you can...
Excellent! Details of public and private swimming pools in numerous towns and cities in Britain. Probably, the definitive publication in this field. Everybody whose interested in architecture and/or swimming pools should buy it.
Covering both architectural and social aspects, this comprehensive history of historic indoor pools across the UK offers a fascinating look at an important part of Britain's leisure and built heritage. What makes this book particularly interesting also from a cinematic point of view are the numerous parallels that can be found between the covered subject and that of historic cinemas and their preservation: as a building category, historic indoor pools have been largely underappreciated. They feature significant and rare examples from different architectural periods; their Golden Age roughly overlaps with that of cinemas: 1880s-1930s (pools) and 1910s-40s (cinemas). Furthermore, several of their architectural particulars and features correspond to movie theatres: large open-plan interiors with open-span roofs, representative façades, central ticket offices, ornaments, etc. Throughout recent decades pressure to redevelop the sites they occupy has often trumped the public's desire to restore them, as too few significant examples are protected structures. Whether this insightfully written, well-photographed and professionally laid out book is read by the sporting history enthusiast, architecture lover, writer of built heritage records, or even cinema fan, it delivers on all fronts. There are few faults to be found with this thoroughly recommended book.
[Review originally published in *The Cinematograph* magazine of the Cinema Heritage Group.]
A really great book for those interested in swimming, social history and / or architecture. Provides so much information and hundreds of truly wonderful photographs, many from old posters and postcards. In addition to the information it also recalls many great memories of swimming pools around the country visited over the years. Combined with Janet Smith's text on the lidos Liquid Assets (Played in Britain Series) it provides a great coverage of swimming locations over the years in Britain.
We live in an age where overpriced and ugly "health" clubs are ubiquitous. So it's worth remembering that swimming in some of Britain's magnificent public pools can be a cost efficient cultural experience as well as being good for you. This timely and sumptuously illustrated book will excite everyone who appreciates this country's Edwardian and Victorian heritage and should shame those local authorities which have allowed so many to deteriorate and close. From Manchester's Victoria Baths...."the Taj Mahal of swimming"....to the more intimate delights of London's Royal Automobile Club, authors Gordon and Inglis leave no tile unturned as they plunge into the mysteries and magic of Britain's swimming pool history. It's a wonderful addition to the "Played in Britain" series, which celebrates and testifies to our sporting legacy. Edinburgh's Warrender Baths and Aberdeen's Bon Accord have the happiest youthful associations for me but there's something here for every swimmer who seeks both exercise and enlightenment. Now where did I put my trunks......
Great Lengths is a truly beautiful book. I was in my local library when it caught my eye. If I'm being honest, I picked it up with the idea that it would be nice to look at all the pictures and maybe learn something about some of the pools I've swum in.
It was such a joy to read that I read it from cover to cover and have had to order my own copy.
As a swimming teacher and an active Masters swimmer it has made me look at swimming pools in a different way. It has also made me look at other architecture in a different way too; it's great to be able to see the the areas that you visit frequently with renewed vigour.