Jacobs Wells Baths Info

This is an information page about the Jacobs Wells Baths.

Fusion Facilities were the successful bidders in the Community Asset Transfer process. A license was signed by them on 2nd October 2018 and currently surveys are being carried out prior to any signing of a lease.

Brief History
Current situation – including Community Asset Transfer and Feasibility Study
Friends of Jacobs Wells Baths
What’s On – Upcoming Events at the Baths

The Baths are located at Jacobs Wells Rd, Hotwells, Bristol BS8 1DX – See Google Map.

***Please help to get the word out about the Baths – we have some suggestions here.***


Brief History

The Public Baths were designed in 1881 and opened in 1887 By Josiah Thomas. The building hosted a covered pool with a semi-circular steel truss roof carried on steel corbels of Northern Renaissance Revival style, as well as Warm Baths.  The architecture is stunning.

The Public Baths were converted into a Dance Centre c1980 with a fantastic and nationally revered Rosewood sprung floorBristol Dance Centre was founded in 1976 and is the longest serving dance dedicated organisation in the UK.  Bristol City Council, who own the building, did not renew the Dance Centre lease and they left the building in 2016.

To find out more about the Heritage and History of the building see History of Jacobs Wells Bath Complex.

Current Situation

Artspace Lifespace had a licence to occupy until January 2018 . They are looking after the building on behalf of Bristol City Council  until the end of September 2018, when the lease is timed to be signed by Fusion Facilities. They continue to make the space accessible to a wide variety of creative influencers and Jacobs Wells Community Hub has continued to use the Hub Space in the North Wing.  A feasibility study has been undertaken by Helen Bone of Vivid Regeneration to help to decide the long term future of the building.

Expressions of Interest were invited by Bristol City Council for a Community Asset Transfer.

A Friends of Jacobs Wells Baths working group was set up alongside Jacobs Wells Community Hub.

Community Asset Transfer

Bristol City Council invited expressions of interest here.

See also here.

An extract from the Council’s CAT invitation:

“How community organisations can take over the management of the Jacobs Wells Baths building.

“We’re inviting expressions of interest from voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations that have the necessary expertise and imaginative proposals to take over the management of this historic central Bristol building.

“We’re looking for not for private profit organisations and social enterprises that might wish to lease the Jacobs Wells Baths building through Community Asset Transfer.

“A detailed brief with further details IS NOW available on this web page. It contains details of the property, the minimum expectations that we expect of a future tenant, and the application process.”

There was a free Technical Workshop on Wednesday, 3 May 2017,12 noon – 3pm for prospective bidders and partners. To register for the workshop please email: helen@vividregeneration.com    More info here.

Applicants are welcome to contact the Friends of Jacobs Wells Baths working group for support with the process. Please contact us at jwrhub@gmail.com

Please see our CAT Information page of useful documents and resources.

CAT Timetable

The Feasibility Study

The feasibility study included a community consultation process consisting of three drop-in days and a survey which was used to elicit the local community’s wishes for the future use of the building. The results of the survey can be found here.

Helen presented her findings and recommendations at an Open Meeting on 19th January 2017 and her full report is publicly available – see below.

The Feasibility Study identifies four possible options for Bristol County Council in relation to the Baths:

  1. Dispose of the building on the open market
  2. Dispose of the building (ringfence for not for profit organisations delivering social benefit – Dance, Arts, Community
  1. Lease the building on a Community Asset Transfer at a Peppercorn Rent.
  2. Set up a trust and lease the building to the new trust.

Number 3 is the recommended option and has now been adopted by Bristol City Council. The Community Asset Transfer process means that the building freehold would be retained by the Council, and a long lease would be granted to an organisation that can deliver what the community have clearly asked for in the feasibility study. Expressions of interest re taking on a lease would then be evaluated by a panel at Bristol Council with input from the community and the winning applicant would be invited to submit a full business plan.

You can access Helen’s report here:

1-page summary of recommendations (see also webpage)

3-page Executive Summary (see also webpage)

Summary Survey Results

Full Report

Here is a summary of the most important recommendations from the report:

  • Set up a Friends of Jacobs Wells Baths Group.
  • BCC must spend money on urgent maintenance works
  • Artspace Lifespace : It is felt that ASLS need funding to continue to use the building even in the short term. We hope that this will enable them to renew the lease for a further 6 months.
  • Vivid have now enabled a bid to be made to the Architectural Heritage Fund for up to £5,000 for a buildings condition survey.
  • An upgrade to Grade 2* listed building status should be applied for.
  • Vivid’s report suggest that a Community Asset Transfer should be the preferred long term option.
  • The Asset Transfer process should be started asap.
  • The JWC Hub will apply to the Heritage Lottery for a really interesting project which involves young people and our heritage.
  • In order to ensure success with the Community Asset Transfer BCC need to send a lump sum for urgent repairs to make the building safe and water-tight .
  • Fund raising is needed for further phased works and re-development ideas.

To keep up to date, you are very welcome to join our Jacobs Wells Baths mailing list and join our Friends of Jacobs Wells Baths Facebook group.


At the end of our meeting on 19th we invited anyone, especially those offering skills and experience, who would like to be part of a steering group to leave their name and contact details. This steering group would commit to meet once a month for 6 months to help move the process forward per the recommendations in Helen’s report. A good number of people responded but we are aware that there are probably others of you who didn’t know about or couldn’t get to the meeting on the 19th January and would like to be involved. If you are such a person or know of someone who would like to be involved in this way, please contact Sally, Judy and Heather at jwrhub@gmail.com

The meetings will be chaired by Cllr Jerome Thomas on a Thursday from 6.30 to 8.30pm at the Baths on the following dates:

Feb 16th – venue: private residence – read the minutes

March 23rd – read the minutes

May 11th – read the minutes

July 6th

Please check our Friends of Jacobs Wells Baths webpage for further updates.


Artspace Lifespace is a charity specialising in mean time use of at risk buildings. They are permitted to use the building for dance, music, fitness, arts and community activities (including hiring out space to other groups). If you want to book space for rehearsals or events, volunteer or find out more, please contact jacobswellsbaths@artspacelifespace.com.

See here for events happening at the Baths – please support them by coming along! More events will be added shortly if they renew for a further 6 months. You can also keep up with news and events at the Baths by Liking their Facebook Page and following them on Twitter at JWBaths_Centre

Check here for up to date listings: Listings

Read more about Artspace Lifespace’s involvement with Jacobs Wells Baths here.



We will be applying for grants for major amounts needed but are currently working with zero budget, so if you would like to make a donation to help support the Baths project financially, please contact Sally, Judy or Heather at heather4jwrhub@gmail.com

Some video clips from the community consultation days