Soap star joins in support of City Pool plans

A FORMER Emmerdale actress has joined supporters of the redevelopment of Newcastle City Pool and Turkish Baths.

Charlie Hardwick, who played Val Pollard in the hit TV show, visited the historic building recently to celebrate the venue’s refurbishment.

Charlie, from Wallsend in North Tyneside, was a regular at the city-centre Turkish Baths until they were closed in 2013.

It was welcome news to her that the pool and baths will be given a new lease of life following a £5m refurbishment by leisure charity Fusion Lifestyle.

She said: “I’m so thrilled that the Turkish Baths are being saved.

“I remember the pool from swimming here as a child. When there were swimming galas on the noise was so deafening, with hundreds and hundreds of kids screaming their mates on.

“I didn’t know the Turkish Baths downstairs existed until later on, when I was introduced by the writer and poet Julia Darling.

“We would meet here on a Tuesday and we would cook up plans. In a completely relaxed state where there was no stress – everything seemed possible when we were talking in the Turkish Baths.”

Charlie also supported the community-led campaign group, Re-open Newcastle Turkish Baths, which sought to save the venue back in 2013.

The campaign caught the eye of charity Fusion Lifestyle, which runs over 90 facilities across the UK and successfully applied for planning permission last year.

The new facility will reinstate a public pool and Turkish Baths, as well as introducing a spa with treatment rooms, fitness suites, exercise studios and a café bistro.

Anthony Cawley, operations director at Fusion Lifestyle, said: “The City Pool is genuinely loved by the community and everyone is interested in the progress of the redevelopment.

“I find it fascinating to listen to all the memories from visitors and those interested in the scheme – and Charlie is one of those people.

“We are continuing with the design and preparation of the building and the site – it’s important to get the details right.

“And we’re looking forward to getting on with the job in hand and inviting Charlie and all the other fans of the building back next year when City Pool and Turkish Baths is due to reopen.”