Plight of district’s leisure facilities laid bare

Nicola Sturgeon, health secretary opens the Midlothian Community Hospital, Bonnyrigg. Nicola in the excersie area with Carol Maguire and Amanda Stears, physiotherapists
Nicola Sturgeon, health secretary opens the Midlothian Community Hospital, Bonnyrigg. Nicola in the excersie area with Carol Maguire and Amanda Stears, physiotherapists

The bare face cheek of it! Midlothian District councillors had to tackle a rather sensitive issue concerning Bonnyrigg Swimming Pool.

Back in March 1982, The Advertiser reported about proposals to allow a nude swimming session.

“District councillors have said no to nudity. An application by the Forth Naturist Club to be allowed use of Bonnyrigg Swimming Pool has been unanimously rejected by the recreation and leisure committee – with comment.

“The club wanted to be able to bring a ‘Mediterranean touch’ to the town by using sauna and swimming facilities for two to three hours every month.

“Being at first floor level, the pool was more attractive as a venue to the naturists, and councillors heard new members – especially famly groups – would be welcome.

“The committee received a detailed report at their meeting from director of Recreation and Leisure Mr John Gilfillan on the use and development of swimming pools in Midlothian.

“Only two pools – Newbattle and Bonnyrigg – are owned by the district council. Six school pools, and another under construction at Beeslack, are owned by Lothian Regional Council and up until the recent moratorium on expenditure were available for frequenty public use.

“Mr Gilfillan stressesd that attention had to be brought to the amount of money that had been spent on keeping the district council’s pools in a good state of repair. In the past, both had suffered many problems.

“Useage of the pools was low – only Bonnyrigg was used by the region and it was quite evident that something would have to be done to make the pools more attractive as leisure resorts for the general public.

“Costs incurred for 1980/81 totalled £213,700 and yet the annual income for the two pools was only £26,060. Councillor Dan Lennie asked that the committee concentrate on bringing the general public back to the pools.

“He said: ‘I feel we should concentrate on the family-type facility – fun sessions and a variety of both water and poolside activities.’

“The committee agreed to Mr Gilfillan’s proposal to purchase equipment up to the value of £500 for fun sessions. This would include items such as ladders, dinghies, inflatables, castles and chutes.

“An application by MIDAS, the district’s one competitive swimming club, for extra training at Bonnyrigg pool was turned down by the committee by seven votes to three.”

Meanwhile, 35 years ago concerted efforts to have a hospital covering the east of Midlothian were in jeopardy.

“Long-term plans for a new general hospital in the Dalkeith area are in the balance following the revelation in last year’s census that the area’s population is not increasing as quickly as earlier thought.

“Now Lothian Health Board are to consider proposals from their officials that a new district hospital be built instead at Liberton.

“But this week a health spokesman stressed no decision has been taken and event when it is made it could be 20 years before a hospital is built.

“In 1977, the health board released a consultative document in which it was proposed that, in the long term, a new district hospital should be built in Dalkeith.

“At the time, it was thought the area’s population at the end of the century would be large enough to support a third district hospital in the area.

“But the latest population trends for the Esk Valley, detailed in the 1981 census show that the population around Dalkeith is not growing as fast as projected.

“The health board are also under pressure to find room for the beds that would be displaced in the redevelopment currently being carried out at the Royal Infirmary.

“Building the third hospital at Liberton – on the site of the present hospital for geriatrics and the young chronic sick – would help relieve the pressure for beds on the Royal Infirmary.

“It would also be easier and cheaper to build the hospital at Liberton as it is known there are site problems at Dalkeith which would make the hospital ‘very expensive’ to build.”

Bonnyrigg Swimming Pool eventually closed when the new leisure facilities opened at the newly-constructed Lasswade High School in 2013.

The Midlothian Community Hospital was constructed on land at Eskbank Road, Bonnyrigg, and opened in 2010, replacing Rosslynlee and Loanhead Hospitals.