Pleasure Palace

Pleasure Palace is a half-hour documentary made in 1997 which takes viewers inside the Arlington Baths Club to see the building and meet a few members.

It was first shown on BBC Scotland in February 1997 as part of the Ex-S documentary series. The director was Elaine Donnelly.

Cover of a book called 'Tales Of The Arlington' by Nanzie McLeod with a painting of the swimming pond hall at the Arlington Baths

Among the members appearing in the film is Nanzie McLeod, a Glasgow artist, dancer and writer, well-known at the Baths for her book of short stories Tales of the Arlington.

Thanks to another member – journalist Tom Shields – the programme got a mention in The Herald diary on 26th February 1997, along with a vignette of his own:

“The Arlington facilities have been endorsed by no less a band of people than Glasgow’s black-taxi drivers. The baths staff turned up early one Sunday morning some years back and, although the baths were closed, there were eight taxis parked outside.

The staff then discovered a dozen or so chaps splashing happily in the pool. One of the drivers had found a key to the premises in the back of his cab and, hey presto, the Arlington Baths Taxi Drivers (Free) Swimming Club had been formed.”

The programme was shown UK-wide on BBC2 on Wednesday 11 June 1997. According to the Radio Times listing it was preceded by the political satire Yes, Prime Minister and a documentary about the life of childrearing expert Dr Benjamin Spock, and followed by Newsnight with Peter Snow.

We occasionally show the documentary at the Baths for members to enjoy, including at a film night in February 2020. The most recent showing was on 1 August 2021 at our 150th birthday weekend.

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