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News

Iconic Victorian pool closing for major refurbishment

Edinburgh Leisure | Friday 11th December 2020 7:12am

Iconic Victorian pool closing for major refurbishment

Another of Edinburgh’s iconic Victorian pools, Warrender Swim Centre, home to the Warrender Baths Club said to be the oldest, most famous and most successful swimming club in Scotland is being temporarily closed for a major refurbishment, from Thursday, 24 December 2020, with a planned reopening in September 2021. 

Stephanie Kelly, Leisure Manager at Warrender Swim Centre said: ‘Edinburgh Leisure is unique in having five B-listed Victorian pools in our portfolio but from time to time, these historic venues need some ‘tlc’. At 133 years, the investment will future-proof the building so that customers can continue to enjoy its facilities for many years to come, as they have done for previous generations.  We will, however, still maintain certain characteristics of  ‘Warrender Baths’ to ensure they keep their charm, which is so loved by the people of Bruntsfield, Marchmont and, indeed Edinburgh.”

With a 25-yard pool, sauna and a 20-station gym, Warrender is a Victorian swim centre in the heart of Bruntsfield and Marchmont. This historic venue retains many of its original features, including the original steam room’s roof in the gym, but also has the modern facilities required for an active, healthy life. The gym is located in what used to be the Turkish Baths.

Similar to the recent refurbishments at Leith Victoria and at Dalry Swim Centre, much of the refurbishment will be behind the scenes and will include:

  • Decoration throughout, including updating the changing rooms, both wet and dry, and retiling of the poolside.
  • Opening up the spectating area and adding air-cooling.
  • Installation of a new sauna.
  • New easy access, making it easier for customers to access the building and their activities, with the simple swipe of their membership card or fob.
  • Maintenance work to the sandstone structure and roof, both in keeping with the building’s listing.
  • Upgrades to the mechanical and electrical works, including improvements to the ventilation system, new lighting and installation of venue draining and a new pool plant, which will ensure the building is more energy-efficient.
  • New air handling throughout the building including the gym.

During the refurbishment, customers will have their memberships upgraded to enable them to use any of the 50 + other Edinburgh Leisure venues across the city, so they can continue to keep active during the refurbishment.

Updates at every stage will be posted on Edinburgh Leisure’s social media channels and website during the closure and customers have been informed of the impending renovations.

Warrender Swim Centre
55 Thirlestane Road, Edinburgh EH9 1AP

-Ends-

About Historic Pools

According to the Directory of Historic Pools, which was compiled by Played in Britain, there are 375 historic pools of which 299 are indoor and 76 are outdoor. 

‘Historic Pools’ in the directory includes all pre-1940 pools and any post-1940 pools, which are either listed or otherwise notable (and only includes pools with public access).

Of the 299 historic pools, 135 are open:  114 in England, 20 in Scotland and 1 in Wales. 

Edinburgh Leisure has five B-listed, Victorian pools in its portfolio, which are: Warrender Swim Centre; Portobello Swim Centre; Glenogle Swim Centre; Leith Victoria Swim Centre; and Dalry Swim Centre.   It also manages the Royal Commonwealth Pool and A-listed building, which is the only venue to host three Commonwealth Games in 1970, 1986 and 2014. 

Many of the Edinburgh Victorian swimming pools were part of a much wider scheme to build public baths to promote cleanliness and hygiene amongst the working classes in the Victorian times, who did not have routine access at the time to sanitation.

Whilst the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh Leisure has succeeded in keeping the character of the ‘baths’, they have added modern twists to them so whilst they have kept their charm, they are able to meet the demands of a modern leisure /fitness customer, which includes modern heating, upgraded changing facilities and meets the environment’s demands where energy recovery is essential.

About Warrender Swim Centre

With a 25-yard pool, sauna and a 20-station gym, Warrender is a Victorian swim centre in the heart of Bruntsfield and Marchmont. This historic venue retains many of its original features, including the original steam room’s roof in the gym, but also has the modern facilities required for an active, healthy life. The gym is located in what used to be the Turkish Baths.

Warrender’s rich history: Notable for its Victorian architecture with bright interiors and its old-fashioned poolside changing facilities, the baths enjoy category "B" listed building conservation status.

In 1886, some Edinburgh residents and members of the Bellahouston Private Baths Club, Glasgow, decided to build a swimming club in Edinburgh. Frank Y. Henderson formed the Warrender Private Baths Club Limited which bought some land from Sir George Warrender, 6th Baronet, and, using the local architect Robert Paterson, had the baths built. The original cost was £11,000 and the baths were opened on Saturday 17 December 1887 by Sir George.

Warrender Baths differed from many similar facilities in Edinburgh in that they were originally built privately with the emphasis on fitness and leisure. Many of the city's comparable swimming pools were part of a much wider scheme to build public baths to promote cleanliness and hygiene amongst the working classes, who did not have routine access at the time to sanitation. Warrender Baths also sported a billiard room and a reading room.

Initially, the facilities were a success, but by 1906 were no longer viable and were closed. They were bought by the city for £3,000, where they joined the city's portfolio of similar pools. Periodically suffering further closure threats, they were refurbished in 2005 and are now secure, being run by Edinburgh Leisure.

The baths are home to the Warrender Baths Club which is said to be the oldest, most famous and most successful swimming club in Scotland. David Wilkie the Olympic gold medallist swimmer, Ellen King and Keri-Anne Payne both silver Olympic medallists, bronze medal Olympic swimmers Paul EasterGordon Downie and Alan McClatchey, bronze Paralympic medal winners George Simpson and Sean Fraser and Olympic finalist Jean McDowell swam and trained with Warrender Baths Club.

 

 

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