Portobello's famous baths set to close for major revamp

Portobello baths, one of the jewels of Victorian architecture in Scotland, is set to shut its doors for major refurbishment.

By Jolene Campbell
Friday, 3rd September 2021, 4:55 am

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Staff told the Evening News that the iconic pool will close in near future for the planned £2.5 million revamp, after initial work has been completed on the front of the building.

The centre which is home to the last of Edinburgh's Victorian-built Turkish baths will be the latest city pool to get a face-lift, as part of charity Edinburgh Leisure’s wider investment in its facilities across the city.

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Portobello Baths is one of the jewels of Victorian civic architecture in Scotland.

Major works for the seaside structure will see a refurbished interior for the building, new changing rooms, an upgrade to fitness and gym facilities and energy-saving technology installed to make the baths more environment-friendly.

Bosses at Edinburgh Leisure said the popular coastal pool is the next in line to get some ‘tlc’, after Warrender Swim Centre shut its doors on Christmas Eve.

The Victorian pool is currently undergoing a series of renovation works and is due to reopen this month with new changing rooms, a sauna, and easy access points to be installed in the baths.

The Victorian building which houses Portobello Swim Centre

Maureen Childs, Labour councillor for Portobello said: "Porty Baths - aka Portobello Swim Centre - is a huge asset for the community and its very good to see we are investing in maintaining it. In 1996 we feared it would be closed for good and a huge petition ensued which was the first of many community campaigns. In this instance, were able to argue that the independent town of Portobello became part of Edinburgh 100 years before, in 1896. The baths helped sweeten the deal.

"Our Community Council was organising a Portobello Town Hall event to mark the occasion with the Lord Provost Eric Millgan as our special invited guest. How was this to be an occasion of celebration if our very own Baths were to be closed forever? The Council quickly found the cash and our amazing 'urban village' of Porty has gone from strength to strength ever since. That’s how much it means to us.”

An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: "Edinburgh Leisure manages five of the City of Edinburgh Council's Victorian pools and it is important we look after them to ensure they can be enjoyed by the people of Edinburgh for many years to come.

"All the venues that we manage go through life-cycle refurbishments and in the past number of years, we have completed major refurbishments at Dalry Swim Centre and more recently Leith Victoria. Warrender is currently receiving similar treatment with Portobello Swim Centre being next to receive some 'tlc'.

"Customer and locals will have noticed some initial work on the front elevation of the building at Porty has now been completed and the scaffolding is now removed.

However, at this stage, we do not have any set dates signed off for when the rest of the work will take place. But we will of course ensure any customers affected will know well in advance of our plans, through emails and via our social media channels including our website."

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