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Finsbury swimming pool scheme delayed until after London 2012 Olympics

PUBLISHED: 09:30 19 June 2012

Swimmers Fran Bigman, Jonathan Silverman and Helen Wright are frustrated they can't get into Ironmonger Row Baths

Swimmers Fran Bigman, Jonathan Silverman and Helen Wright are frustrated they can't get into Ironmonger Row Baths

Dieter Perry

A multi-million pound swimming pool upgrade has been hit by setbacks and now won’t be finished in time for the Olympics – leaving frustrated residents without their beloved baths for a third summer running.

Ironmonger Row Baths facts

n Ironmonger Row Baths was built in 1936

n It was closed in May 2010 for refurbishments costing around £16.5million

n Work was halted briefly in 2011 when centuries-old tiles and pottery were discovered

n The scheme will restore the main pool and install a new, larger teaching pool with a moveable floor

n The historic Turkish baths are being restored with an expanded spa area

n Restoration of the seating gallery is taking place

n A larger gym with over 70 machines is being built

n The public laundry is being moved

Residents in Finsbury have been waiting for the return of historic Ironmonger Row Baths ever since it was shut for a £16million overhaul in May 2010.

The grand reopening was originally scheduled for May – in good time for the Games – but the Gazette has been told it will now take place in October at the earliest.

Sheila McBirnie, 56, secretary of the tenant management organisation on the nearby Pleydell Estate, off Radnor Street, said: “They could have built several swimming pools in that time. It will now be three summers when the children can’t go swimming and it seems such a shame with the Olympics.”

“A lot of people were very upset it was closed for two years to start with and they’re not happy about the delays. We love that pool.”

Islington Council has apologised for the delay, saying there have been issues with the building of a sub-station, while last April there was a three week hold-up when medieval artefacts were unearthed on the site.

But swimmers are aghast at the lack of communication over the affair, with the council’s website still giving the date as “late summer”.

Fran Bigman, 32, a student of Northampton Square, Finsbury, said: “There has not been any communication with residents who have been waiting for two years now.

“What on earth is taking them so long?”

Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for leisure, said: “The refurbishment of Ironmonger Row is a huge project and as is often the case with historic buildings, some issues have arisen along the way that couldn’t have been planned for and they unfortunately mean we’ve had to put back the re-opening date.

“These delays mean that we’ll now be testing the new facilities in August and opening the centre to the public in October.

“I’m sorry we’re not able to re-open the centre on schedule and realise it’s frustrating for local residents.

“Our building contractors are doing everything they can to make sure there are no further delays.”

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