Found in the very heart of residential Leith, Edinburgh, at the far end of Junction Place, is the Victoria Swim Centre. This apricot-coloured Victorian sandstone building is in the Renaissance style. Boasting two handsome entrance arches, the frontage sports the famous Persevere coat of arms with its ship sailing on a brisk sea.
Inside, the pool is surrounded by an ornate, Baroque, cast-iron colonnade, painted white, which holds up a balcony with equally decorated and fancy railings. On this mezzanine floor, which runs right around the pool, is a viewing area and access to other spaces. The overall, cantilevered glass ceiling lends a light and airy atmosphere to the traditional turquoise pool floor. Changing cubicles are between the columns with showers nearby, and a matching wrought-iron staircase leads upstairs.
This used to be my local, so I have often swum and exercised here. However, the day my bathroom ceiling collapsed was when I discovered there were actual individual baths. They were established following the enactment of the 1846 Act to Encourage the Establishment of Public Baths and Wash-houses to improve general public health with access for all classes of citizens. With huge taps and gushing hot water, I thought I had found heaven around the corner.
Sadly, the bathrooms have been removed, but the pool, the dance studio and high-spec gym for fitness and yoga classes, and activities for all ages, plus the Upmo Eat café, are all fully accessible and well worth a visit.