The Jacobs Wells Baths were built on land owned by the Merchant Venturers. The building was completed in 1889. The baths were built to serve the working poor in the wards of St Augustine and Hotwells. The water for the baths came from the local springs on Jacobs Wells Road which fed the Jacobs Well. It is believed that the Well was a place of Mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) dating back to 1100. The building is owned by Bristol City Council (BCC).
Architectural historian Andrew Foyle has described the building, designed in 1877-9, as an important early instance of the Victorian Queen Anne Revival style with such features as decorative terracotta, high rooflines with decorative chimney stacks. The Baths originally included 6 first class men’s warm baths, 18 second class, 6 women’s baths all of one class, boiler room and smithy plus a pool.
The building closed in the late 1970’s. In 1984 Bristol Community Dance Centre (BCDC) were granted a 30 year lease. They rescued and reused a pre-existing sprung hardwood floor from another baths in Bristol. Over 30 years the building has been used for dance, rehearsal and performance, international, national and community dance.
In September 2016, Bristol City Council Property team approached our organisation Artspace Lifespace (Registered Charity Number 1168150) and offered us a temporary lease for the recently vacated Jacobs Wells Baths while exploring options for the buildings future.
Jacobs Wells Baths building provides a unique opportunity for Artspace Lifespace to develop the work we do as an organisation in providing Access, Space, Logistics and Support for a vibrant creative community in Bristol and beyond.
Artspace Lifespace’s main vision is to create a welcoming and open space for the local community and to support creativity in Bristol with a new hub at Jacobs Wells Baths. The organisation will be working closely with the local community and all interested groups and arts organisations in the City to curate a very exciting programme of events, ranging from exhibitions, dance workshops and performances, art workshops, small to medium scale theatre shows and community events.
Councillor Estella Tincknell, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Culture, said: “This agreement with Artspace Lifespace will secure the building in the short term and breathe new life into this important community space. I am pleased that the focus for the future will be on creating an open space for the community to engage with local creatives and support a diverse programme of events and exhibitions.”
Jacobs Wells Community Hub has been heavily involved in securing the future of the building and have organized various community activities in the old Baths. “Jacobs Wells Community Hub are looking forward to working with Dina and ArtspaceLifespace whilst they are based in the Jacobs Wells Baths. We have confidence that Helen Bone (Vivid Regeneration) and Dina Ntziora (ArtspaceLifespace) are the best we could wish for to help us nurture and cherish this wonderful iconic building. We want to see the building flourish as a multi-use building that encompasses a wide variety of arts, culture and leisure activities; ideally with community and dance at it’s core.’’ Heather Watts from Jacobs Wells Community Hub.
Helen Bone, lead consultant on the Feasibility Study for Jacobs Wells Baths stated “I am looking forward to working with the local community and the vibrant and diverse dance and arts communities in Bristol to develop a robust and deliverable long term vision for the building. It is a building with huge potential and presents an exciting challenge for the city and its many interested stakeholders”.
The building is situated on the busy Jacobs Wells Road within a 10 minute walk of the City Centre
The main studio space is 330m2 with a rosewood sprung dance floor. The floor finishes flush with the original tiled pool surround.
The space measures 9.7m to the sloping ceiling and 12.6m high in the middle. This allows for a reasonable sized audience (using raked seating) or a portable aerial rig to be installed.
The metal arched trusses still remain visible below a later installed ceiling. It is believed that the arched interior side walls have survived and have been over clad.
This is a unique and sizeable studio space. Capacity 100-200. No tech equipment available but large gas heater ad suitable power supply.
Suitable for theatre, music, circus, celebrations etc. Good acoustics.
Artspace Lifespace VISION
On 19th January at the Jacobs Wells Baths, there was a meeting to hear the results of the First Stage Feasibility Study commissioned by the Central, Clifton and Harbourside Neighbourhood Partnership to inform the long-term future of the building. The report was carried out by Helen Bone from Vivid Regeneration.
The survey results showed Dance as the most popular request for future use of the building but with the recognition from some respondents that this may need to be combined with other uses to make it financially viable. Next most popular requests were for Community Use and then Performing Arts.
380 people in total came to the Open Doors Afternoons. 230 people filled in the online survey. This is an amazing result and shows how important the building is to everyone.
Read full copy Future-of-Jacobs-Wells-Baths-Vivid-Report-January-27-2017
- If you would like further information regarding Jacobs Wells Baths, dance space, rehearsals, exhibition/space avails or if you would like to volunteer and be part of this very exciting project please contact
- Bookings/viewings: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kathryn Chiswell Jones, Company Manager: email@example.com
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- What’s on: http://theislandbristol.com/events/category/jacobs-wells-baths/