End of an era as Commonwealth Pool gets ready for refurbishment

FOR nearly 40 years it has been home from home for many, but Sunday will see the end of an era at Edinburgh's "Commie Pool" as it closes its doors for a two-year refurbishment.

The Royal Commonwealth Pool, opened in January 1970 by Princess Anne, has hosted two Commonwealth Games, a flock of penguins and generations of Edinburgh residents.

The penguins may have been a one-off – they were being filmed for a BBC documentary in 1983 – but for swimmers and staff who pass through its doors on a regular basis the pool has become a part of everyday life.

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Of 101 staff working at the pool before the closure, Edinburgh Leisure has found alternative jobs for the vast majority, although two have taken redundancy and Edinburgh Leisure says it is still looking for new roles for another three.

Among those heading off for a new job is Cluny Scott, 38, who was one of the first tots to take part in the pool's classes for parents and children – and who now teaches the sessions himself.

Mr Scott, who lives in Tollcross, will be working at several different pools around the Capital during the closure, but said he would miss the Commie

He said: "I suppose my first memories of it probably came when I was about six or seven and I remember the sheer size and scale of the place – it's like a cathedral. When you're such a wee person its quite awe-inspiring."

He took swimming lessons at the Commie and other Edinburgh pools throughout his childhood, and three years ago began teaching there full-time, with pupils aged from four months to up to adulthood.

He said: "I love the diversity of the place, you've got all ages, and there's a sense of community – for such a big place it does have a beating heart.

"It's such a big part of people's lives – it's like an old friend, really," he said.

Also part of the pool's history – and no doubt its future – are the Heatly family. Triple Commonwealth gold medal-winner Sir Peter Heatly was the first person to dive from the pool's boards before they opened to the public.

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His grandson, James, 12, is now Scottish junior champion on the three metre board and a member of the Edinburgh Diving Club, which is based at the Commonwealth Pool. The club will relocate to Newbattle Swimming Pool during the closure – although they will have to travel to England to jump from the highest boards.

James' mum Debs said: "As a mum of a child that wants to do a sport, the pool has meant everything. I think a lot of people are realising how much they've taken the facilities of the Commonwealth pool for granted now."

The refurbishment plans include a 25-metre teaching pool with a moveable floor and a boom across the 50-metre pool enabling it to split into two separate pools.

There will also be a 25-metre diving pool with movable floor and a dry land training area for divers. The gym will be expanded and changing areas updated.

The pool will close on Sunday with a day of special events including an aqua party, free coached diving sessions and free activities at the Clambers play centre.

For more information see www.edinburghleisure.co.uk.



Swimmers are being directed to Edinburgh Leisure's nine other pools around the city: Ainslie Park, Dalry, Drumbrae, Glenogle, Gracemount, Leith Victoria, Portobello, Queensferry High and Warrender.


Classes will be moved to Portobello Swim Centre, Leith Academy and Braidburn School.


Classes and equipment have relocated to Meadowbank Sports Centre.


Classes will move to Meadowbank Sports Centre.


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The music and movement group moves to Meadowbank and the Crags Sports Centre.


Softplay will be available at Meadowbank, EICA:Ratho, and Leith Waterworld. However, a brand new soft play area for children up to six will be installed at Craiglockhart Tennis Centre.