Finsbury Park residents can see swimming hero Ellie open new pool
By poppy_smith | Sunday, October 28, 2012, 07:26
Swimming superstar Ellie Simmonds will help celebrate the £16.5 million transformation of Islington's much-loved Ironmonger Row Baths.
Ellie won two Gold medals for Great Britain in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, after winning two Golds at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, aged just 13.
She will be guest of honour at a swimming gala celebration for local young people on November 16, to officially reopen the baths after a huge refurbishment that includes:
- full restoration of the main pool, with improved water circulation and healthier swimming environment
- a new training pool with moveable floor, to improve access for learners and disabled people
- work to make the 1930s building fully accessible and welcoming for disabled people
- a new exercise studio, greatly enlarged gym and cardio zone
- restoration of the historic Turkish Baths, and new expanded spa area
- modern, expanded changing rooms for swimmers and gym-goers
- careful refurbishment of the historic Grade II-listed building
- new public laundry for local community
After the swimming gala celebration on November 16, the Baths will open for a week to community groups, including local schools, and other users.
Ironmonger Row Baths will then fully reopen to the general public for Saturday November 24, with a special weekend of community events.
Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council's executive member for health and wellbeing, said: "We're on the side of residents and want to help residents enjoy healthy, active lives.
"Ironmonger Row Baths has been at the heart of its community since it first opened, and has now been transformed into an incredible modern facility for residents. This includes making the Baths fully accessible and welcoming for disabled people.
"It's fantastic that Ellie Simmonds can join us for the reopening of the Baths, which are a lasting legacy of this Olympic year, and will help us continue in the spirit of the Games, to inspire a new generation."
The Baths will be operated by GLL, who have a strong track record of running sports and leisure centres with more than 60 sites, mostly in London.
Many local jobs have been created at the new Baths. So far 18 residents have secured work after a joint recruitment drive by GLL and the council.
Gary Dark, GLL Partnership Manager for Islington, said: "GLL is delighted to manage this historic facility. We're committed to ensuring it remains very much at the heart of the community, offering a comprehensive range of sports and leisure facilities. We hope all local residents come and see the transformation for themselves.
"A huge makeover really has taken place. Ironmonger Row offers something for everyone from the serious club swimmer, to disabled users, community groups, someone looking to workout or enjoy a group exercise class, or simply to relax and be pampered in our historic Turkish Baths, and newly expanded spa."
Ironmonger Row Baths first opened as a washhouse for poor local residents in 1931, and the swimming pool and Turkish Baths were added in 1938.
After more than 70 years in service, the much-loved building was showing its age and in 2010 work began on major refurbishment, funded by Islington Council and the now-defunct EC1 New Deal for Communities.