Context 138 - March 2015

20 C O N T E X T 1 3 8 : M A R C H 2 0 1 5 Swim Inn, which occupies part of Edward Machell Gibbs’ 1877 public swimming baths (he gave its exterior some punningly ‘Gibbsian’ references). Chesterfield has the Portland Hotel, built in 1899 to serve the newMarket Place railway station. In London’s Liverpool Street Station the Hamilton Hall is housed in the amazing and opulent ballroom of the former Great Eastern Hotel.All of these are well worth a passing visit. Like any big company,Wetherspoon has its detractors. In the old days civic groups expressed concerns, but now they are more likely to give the pub chain an award. Whatever your view, there is no denying the Nigel Crowe is national heritage manager for the Canal & River Trust. Thanks toWetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon for useful discussion, and to photographers David Webb and Gillian Evans. facts. £700 million annual turnover on food, 35 million cups of coffee sold each year, free wi-fi, family-friendly pubs open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, over 600 different micro-brewers’ beers sold, and craft brewers brought in from overseas to weave their brewing magic. Wetherspoon’s pubs are popular in their communities, they are run responsibly and Wetherspoon does not shrink from the hurdles associated with the acquisition and redevelopment of historic buildings that have often been rundown, empty and unloved. Other high street chains are far less adventurous. ’Spoons should be congratulated. The Robert the Bruce, Dumfries, a red sandstone former chapel (Photo: DavidWebb) Hamilton Hall, the ballroom of the former Great Eastern Hotel, Liverpool Street Station, London (Photo: Gillian Evans) The Portland Hotel, Chesterfield, originally built to serve railway travellers (Photo: Gillian Evans)