The wait is finally over for a 105-year-old Birmingham pool to re-open after closing almost 16 months ago for a series of repairs.
Moseley Road Baths, in Balsall Heath, reopened on Monday, with eight-year-old Harry Higgins the first to take a dip.
Moseley Road Baths are Grade II listed and one of only three such pools currently operating in the country. They also have the only complete set of washing or “slipper” baths, which were closed to the public in 2004.
Roger Gould, 60, learnt to swim in the baths in 1962. The Solihull-born accountant also took a dip to celebrate the reopening.
He said: “When I came here on Saturday mornings, people were queueing to have a bath. You had to get past them to have a swim. It’s such a wonderful building. This is our heritage.”
The baths were closed in December 2010 to allow a rotting lintel to be replaced above a fire exit door to one pool.
The closure was meant to last six weeks – but the building remained shut after workers found asbestos in the basement and then discovered lead paint was flaking into the pool.
Friends of Moseley Road Baths member Steve Beauchampé said: “It was one problem after another. There were times within the last six months when we seriously doubted it would reopen.”
An even longer closure is on the horizon with an £8 million scheme to re-roof and rewire the building – shutting the complex for two years.
The city council has awarded £3 million towards the project, subject to securing Heritage Lottery funding of £5 million.
City leisure boss Coun Martin Mullaney said: “It’s the last completely intact public swimming baths from the Edwardian period in Britain.
“We want to keep it in use as a swimming pool, and keep the history as well.”
Another £9 million project could re-open the larger swimming pool, which closed in 2003 due to a leak and structural problems with the spectators’ balcony.
Coun Mullaney said: “I think it’s worth it if it keeps something with historical importance for the nation. We are handing something down for future generations.”