Historic Govanhill swimming baths – whose closure 11 years ago led to protesters occupying the building – has been reopened by film star Peter Mullan a huge supporter of the Govanhill Save Our Pool campaign led by the Govanhill Baths Community Trust.
Mr Mullan, star of films including Trainspotting and War Horse, was presented with a gold key to unlock the building and he was joined for the occasion by local Deputy First Minister MSP Nicola Sturgeon.
The Govanhill swimming baths refurbishment was funded by the Scottish Government and Historic Scotland has agreed to a £980,000 grant.
In the first phase of a three phase, four-year plan to fully reopen the 98-year-old building, Govanhill Community Baths in Glasgow’s Southside has already received a £100,000 revamp and is now open as a Wellbeing Centre with several rooms open as public spaces.
Work will continue on the pool itself before it reopens in about 18 months’ time.
Labour controlled Glasgow city council had originally closed the baths in March 2001, saying it was no longer viable with other pools nearby – local people held a sit-in and occupied the historic building for seven months – the protests led to violent clashes with police .
The Govanhill Baths Community Trust led the campaign to save the Calder Street baths which first came into use before World War I.
Govanhill Baths Community Trust campaign started a petition to save the pool, collecting 30,000 signatures from people wishing to keep the pool open. Donations and support for the campaign came from expatriate Scots all around the world including Australia and the US.
The new Wellbeing Centre will help regenerate the area with facilities for learning about culture and the arts; there will also be a fully equipped gymnasium which will play an important role in improving community health.
The original ‘old steamie’ (public clothes washhouse) is being converted into an event hall and a market hall that can be used by the local community and also rented out for events.
Keighley Kerr, administrator of the Govanhill Baths Community Trust, said: “The reopening was fantastic. Everybody was just buzzing and Peter’s presence definitely added to the day.
“It’s also proof that we’re actually achieving what we set out to achieve all those years ago.”