Author Welsh wades in to Waterworld debate

Welsh's most famous novel takes inspiration from the location of the pool

LEGENDARY Scots writer Irvine Welsh has waded into the battle to save a swimming pool built on a site that inspired his most famous novel.

Leith Waterworld in Edinburgh occupies the space where Leith Central station once stood.

The station inspired the title of Welsh’s debut novel.

Two of the central characters wander into the then-derelict building and meet a drunk, who jokes that they are “trainspotting”.

Council chiefs say they have to close the pool as it is too costly to run.

The leisure centre, which is the only one in the capital with flumes and a wave machine, will close its doors on January 8.

Tomorrow (thurs) a campaign group called Splashback will present the council with a 5000-strong petition against the closure.

Today Welsh said: “Leith Waterworld is a great resource for the community. I’d be gutted to see yet another thing people enjoy being taken away.”

Leith Central Railway Station was closed in 1972 and fell into a state of disrepair. It became a haven for drug addicts but the trainsheds were later demolished to make way for Leith Waterworld.

The campaign has also drawn support from The Proclaimers, who say it would be a “major blow” if the pool was to shut.


Scots playwright David Greig and former Big Brother contestant John Loughton have also given their support to effort to save the facility.

Greig, who lives in the area, said: “I’ve been taking my kids to Leith Waterworld since they were babies.

“They are teenagers now. We all love going because we love the flumes and the features, but we also love the atmosphere.

“Leith Waterworld’s a lifesaver for parents with energetic kids. It shows a very poor sense of priorities on the part of the council to cut a facility that promoted health, fitness, family bonding and fun.”

Loughton attacked the closure plans, calling them “ridiculous”.

He said: “I have amazing memories going swimming as a kid on a Saturday with my friends.

“Waterworld is more than just a swimming pool, it’s a lifeline to young people and families in the local communities who already have so few things to do.”

Council bosses took the decision to close Waterworld in 2005 in order to fund the refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

But campaigners claim the plan should be reconsidered as times have now changed. They say land values have fallen, and the council may not get the £1 million they expected to receive.

Johnny Gailey, of Splashback, said: “We believe the cost of operating Leith Waterworld is not a loss but an investment in Leith, and young children, families and disabled people.”

Deidre Brock, the city council’s culture and leisure convener, said without the sale of Waterworld and the operational savings made, the council faced a shortfall of more than £5.5m for the costs of refurbishing the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

She said: “Leith Waterworld requires an annual subsidy on average of £400,000 to keep going and a further £2m would need to be found for maintenance costs over the next two years. The reality is that this kind of facility is extremely expensive and complex to run.”