The sad decline of Britain’s public swimming baths has been documented by photographer Gigi Cifali in these eerie pictures taken from the bottom of empty and derelict pools.
Mosley Baths in Birmingham
"I fell in love with these decaying, dry buildings," said the London-based photographer. "I found some great examples of forgotten baths and pools. I thought I could stand with my camera inside the tank and tell the story from the swimmers’ point of view." Cifali added: "Standing inside the pools, I realised how these places represent an authentic testimonial to bygone times. They were places in vogue and fundamental to life years ago."
There was an explosion of interest in public swimming in the late Victorian period and by the 1930s public lidos and swimming pools were at the peak of their popularity.
Cifali said: "Gradually, living conditions and tastes changed, resulting in a drop in attendance, leaving the public pools uneconomical to run. Many fell into decay and many were demolished. They were symbols of civic and architectural pride in Victorian times. Today only a handful of them remain as a representation of bygone era."
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Pools photographed include the Tudor Grange Pool in Solihull, which was drained in 2008, and the Uxbridge Lido in London, which closed in 1998 but reopened in 2010 and used as a training pool for the Olympic Games in London last year. Cifali also explored and photographed Forest Hill Baths in London which closed in 2004 and Hornsey Baths in London which shut its doors in 1988.