Paralympic star Ellie Simmonds to reopen renovated pool in Finsbury
PUBLISHED: 18:42 01 November 2012
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Paralympic golden girl Ellie Simmonds will be the guest of honour when a spruced-up swimming baths reopens at long last.
The champion swimmer will become one of the first people to see inside the newly refurbished Ironmonger Row Baths at the official launch on Friday, November 16.
Following a £16.5million overhaul – and a few delays – the facility will open to the public on Saturday, November 24, more than two years after it closed.
Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “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.”
Simmonds, 17, won two gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, when she was just 13, before repeating the feat at the London Games this summer, picking up a world record in the 400m freestyle along the way.
Cllr Burgess added: “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.”
First opened in 1931, the baths, in Ironmonger Row, Finsbury, closed in May 2010.
The restoration was supposed to be finished in time for the Olympics, but the works were hit by repeated setbacks, to the frustration of many residents.
Delays were partly blamed on the discovery of a number of medieval artefacts on the site, including tiles and pottery thought to date back as far as 1170.
Keen swimmer Fran Bigman, a student who lives in nearby Northampton Square, said: “I wish they had handled it better and been more upfront about the delays. It’s the lack of communication that was the most frustrating thing.
“But it’s great that we will finally have a pool in the area. It’s really important to residents.”
The works have seen the restoration of the main pool and the installation of a new training pool with movable floor, the creation of a new exercise studio and bigger gym, adjustments to improve accessibility and improvements to the changing rooms and public laundry.
Unlike the rest of Islington’s leisure facilities, which are managed by the charity Aquaterra, Ironmonger Row will be run by Greenwich Leisure Limited.