Glenogle Swim Centre / Swimming Pool Renovation in Edinburgh
Written by Helen Fowler Thursday, 04 March 2010 14:50
One of Edinburgh's most distinctive features is its Victorian swimming pools. Originally places for people to wash (not for nothing were they called 'baths'), many of them still survive today in the era of internal plumbing.
One such institution is the Glenogle Baths. A massive £5.3m renovation is due to complete this summer, when the pool will re-open to the public.
"The Glenogle" (as it is known) is an example of Edinburgh philanthropy, aimed at people too poor to afford running water. But the founders did not skimp on building costs. The pool is an example of fabulous 19th century architecture, all the more impressive for its unexpected setting, at the end of a quiet residential street.
Like so many good things in this city, it’s built into the side of a hill.
Much as I love "The Glenogle", no-one could argue renovation was long overdue. The changing arrangements left much to be desired. There were no lockers, you just had to trust to people's honesty. None of my things ever went missing, but there was always a smidgeon of worry at the back of my mind as I ploughed up and down the slow lane.
The changing cubicles were ranged alongside the pool. Only a curtain separated you from public view. Privacy wasn't a big priority for the City fathers. But the building, with its Gothic turrets, arrow holes (no archery lessons on offer, sadly) and cornicing was phenomenal.
Getting a shower could be tricky. I misunderstood the Edinburgh baths etiquette (someone could write a book on that subject, in fact, knowing Edinburgh, someone probably has) and stripped off for my shower. Let's just say I won't make that mistake again.
Threat of closure
At one point, the pool was under threat of closure. Rumours swirled that Edinburgh council would sell the building to a developer who would turn it into flats. A campaign to save the pool prevailed. And in October 2008, the pool close its doors as a £5.3m restoration programme started.
Commonwealth Games 2014 in Edinburgh
If all goes according to plan, the pool will play a role in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.
It's a privilege to have a swimming pool so full of character and history in a local area. It will be even more of a privilege when we have lockers to stow our things and privacy for changing.