Batley Baths

Batley baths

THIS SKETCHBOOK drawing was made from the life drawing studio in Batley School of Art, probably in the winter months of 1968, looking down on Batley swimming baths. I came across it this morning when I was looking through some of my teenage holiday journals in the attic.

The box on the windowsill is one that we were set to design and make in the college workshop. In it I can identify a pen knife, pen holder, compass and ruling pen, the tools of my trade as a foundation student, and beside it are bottles of blue, yellow and green Indian ink.

The yellow box on the left contains children’s wax crayons; ‘Noddy’ crayons, branded with the name of the Enid Blyton character.

Batley bathsRubbing these crayons on my sketchbook page laid the foundations for a kind of poor man’s scraperboard which I then, with difficulty, painted over with India ink which I could then scrape through to produce highlights such as mouldings, mortar and leaded windows.

This is a long and laborious way to produce a drawing but it’s evident that I enjoyed building up the textures.

It’s successful in bringing back to me the drabness of Batley at that time when smokeless zones were a recent innovation. I love the dour stonework and the glowering skylights which you can’t imagine would ever allow fresh air and sunlight filter down into the changing rooms below.

I never swam in these baths.


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  1. Thank you Richard for bringing back a memory. As a special treat my parents took me to Batley Baths when I was about 5 years old. The memory is only a dim one now but I recall not being very happy about being lowered into the shallow end. It was only 3 ft deep but when you are 5 years old that is up to your chin when you are standing on tip toe. I ended up spending most of the time in the much more pleasant, though probably less hygienic, foot bath.

    1. Apart from a reunion about 15 years ago I haven’t been back to the college since the 70s. Must go back there some day and perhaps do a bit of drawing. But I think I’ll give the foot baths a miss!

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