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Community-led Leeds swimming pool goes from length to length

AQUATIC LIFE:  Lucy Meredith dressed as a mermaid at Bramley Baths.
AQUATIC LIFE: Lucy Meredith dressed as a mermaid at Bramley Baths.
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The only surviving Edwardian bath house in Leeds has reported an increased turnover of more than half a million pounds – just a few years after it faced closure.

Bramley Baths was opened in 1904 for residents to wash, swim and use its Russian Steam Baths.

Under the threat of closure, the Grade II-listed facility became a not-for-profit social enterprise from January 2013 following an asset transfer from Leeds City Council, which was facing budget pressures.

Trustee members held their annual general meeting this week and revealed a 16 per cent sales growth during the last financial year, as well as an increased turnover of £608,000. Its reserves now stand at £188,000.

The focus will next be on securing investment for repairs to the building itself. Chairman John Battle paid tribute to the outgoing trustees David Harries, Laura Sheard, Fran Graham and Bill Graham.

He said: “All four board members contributed massively to get this organisation off the ground. We owe them a massive debt of gratitude in Bramley and we wish them all the best for the future.”

He added: “The support from the community for our summer events was amazing. These children’s programmes continue to draw families from all backgrounds, so we are running high and well.”

Chief executive officer Sue Stones started her role this summer after being general manager of the Harvey Nichols in Leeds.

She said: “A 16 per cent sales growth shows what an incredible success story this social enterprise is.”

It evidenced “both strong financial and community success,” she added, and was “a shining example of an exceptional social enterprise”.

As the baths was facing closure in 2011, it was residents and local organisations which produced a business plan and raised funds for the enterprise.