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Do you ever wonder how many buildings for leisure and pleasure a nation can take? Countless old mills, factories and mines, so many long-serving workhorses, are being transformed from gritty, demanding and rigorous places of business for reuse as so many pleasure domes, to be discovered and enjoyed at leisure in the nation’s playtime. But what of old buildings that were designed for leisure in the first place? What’s to become of them now the nation’s affections have turned from Assembly Rooms and Lidos to shopping malls and multiplex?

We pretty much take swimming pools for granted these days but they were radically interesting and exciting places in the late 1800s and particularly in the 1920s and ‘30s when public swimming became really fashionable. This pool in Newport is one of many in Europe which completely transformed leisure time for working people. No more bathing in the brick ponds or…

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