Campaign to keep St George’s swimming pool open for everyone

The photograph above was taken in 1969 and 53 years later St George’s swimming pool and sports centre on The Highway is still enjoyed by the local community.

Amanda Day of the Wapping-based Turks Head charity is leading the campaign to get better facilities and protection for St George’s and ensure it re-opens after the pandemic.

The petition Amanda established, For all options to be investigated to fully refurbish and update St George’s Pools, has done very well and at the time of publication only needed another 735 to get to the magic total of 2,500. So you know what to do!

The Council has closed the building temporarily because of Covid but there is a real risk that this could become permanent given the likely cuts to local authority spending.

St George’s Baths, Shadwell

Local authorities do not have a duty to provide leisure facilities, which makes those centres that require proper investment vulnerable to closure.

St George’s Leisure Centre was not opened in the first phase of the re-opening leisure centres which had been closed due to Covid.

Under Lutfur Rahman in 2012 an £800,000 refurbishment of St George’s took place jointly funded by Tower Hamlets Council and leisure partner Better.

St George’s remains astonishingly modern. Two pools, one 33 metres in length, built on a modest footprint and above ground providing maximum light.

It was designed by Reginald Uren, a New Zealand architect whose other buildings include Hornsey Town Hall and the Sanderson Hotel in central London, both of which are Grade II listed.

Generations of swimmers

The leisure centre is in the Shadwell ward of Cllr. Rabina Khan (Liberal Democrat) who is already fighting to save St George’s.

‘St George’s is a wonderful community sports facility and many residents have been swimming there for generations,’ she said.

‘I have taken all my children swimming there and it is a gorgeous pool which we should cherish. My children are anxious for it to re-open after the Covid-19 crisis has passed so they can go and enjoy a swim.’

Cllr. Rabina Khan (Liberal Democrat, Shadwell)

The centre was designed to last with a bit of love and care. The previous council administration spent £800k on a make-over and that was only eight years ago, so we need to ensure it is re-opened as soon as is safely possible.’

St George’s has been limping from one crisis to another for too long now and is always under threat of closure. While Historic England may not agree, it remains our iconic building and up to us to protect and guarantee its future.

Amanda says that she wants to beef up the Friends of St George’s group to work alongside the Council to get a proper feasibility study looking at full refurbishment of the building, water treatment and heating system and additional income generating activities.

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