The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Buildings at risk

Halifax pool and murals, Yorkshire

Status: Still at risk

Image: Pevsner Guides

The C20 Society submitted a listing application to safeguard the building following an announcement by Calderdale Council that it planned to build a new sports and leisure centre in the city but this was turned down. C20 feels the reasons given for this decision were ‘inadequate and unconvincing” and is now calling for a review.

Designed by F H Hoyles, the Deputy Borough Architect, under the supervision of the Borough Architect J L Berbiers, and constructed in the 1960s, the Pool is an admirable effort of the local authority to translate local distinctiveness into modern design, creating a building that would draw in local people but not overwhelm the historic character of its surroundings.  It has clean lines and blocky forms, and the way that the internal spaces are grouped and expressed externally, neatly stepping down the sloping site, works with the variety of facade textures in local materials to add interest to the elevations.

The interior features two ceramic murals by artist Kenneth Barden (1924-1988), depicting British pond life. The mural is a collage of different plants and insects, layered in a geometric motif with vibrant blues, reds, purples and greens. The aquatic theme ties in with the building’s function and creates a lively backdrop to the diving pool. Barden is mentioned in Historic England’s Introduction to Heritage Assets document focusing on Post-War Public Art. He designed a number of ceramic murals in the post-war period, with notable examples being the massive Carter tile facade panels on the exterior facades of  the Harbour and Seaward residential towers in Gosport (1961-68), and an interior mural depicting historic pump mechanisms at a Pump House in Sawbridgeworth for the Hertfordshire and Essex Water Board (1955).

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