Generations of swimmers mourned when the old Olympia swimming pool was swept aside in the name of progress in 2014.
The stark concrete structure cast an ugly shadow and won no praise for its architecture but its demise was not without a tinge of sadness.
The site was eventually flattened to make room for the £45 million V&A Dundee which was the centrepiece of the £1 billion waterfront regeneration.
Built in 1974, it was a mixture of steel, pre-cast concrete and reinforced institutional concrete encasing formidable steel beams.
Within four weeks, it had welcomed 100,000 people through its doors.
Later additions included an indoor climbing wall, sunbeds, saunas, steam baths and toning tables.
Adding its legendary waterslides in 1987 cost around £500,000.
The old Olympia racked up its fair share of visitors in its time, from competitive swimmers to toddlers and school pupils learning to swim.
Now it was sadly long past its sell-by date.
The old pool echoed to the sound of happy swimmers for almost 40 years.
But it was now swamped in an eerie silence following its closure in July 2013.
Central Demolition were awarded the £655,000 contract.
“It is the biggest swimming pool we have taken down and we have done a lot of planning for the project,” said Jamie Cassells, Central’s site manager.
“The electricity and gas were switched off and the pools were drained.
“The thousands of gallons of water were flushed into the waste water system under licence from the environment agency, we definitely couldn’t pour it into the Tay.”
Mr Cassells added: “The public may not have seen much happening but we have been busy inside the building.
“After Christmas they will see a lot more activity and we are due to finish the whole project in April.”
Murals of cheerful dolphins that amused generations of children looked down on an empty scene as workmen extracted all its fittings in September 2013.
They spent a week draining the main pool although the removal of the original walkway was one of the first things really visible within the demolition process.
The pedestrian walkway was cut into chunks in October, and then carried away by cranes, clearing space for heavy machinery to start work on the main structure.
Asbestos removal was a massive job from inside the old Olympia’s walls, but it was safely carried out without any hitches.
December 2013 marked another key milestone.
The Hilton Hotel and Gala Casino, which stood next to the old leisure centre, was knocked down to make way for the transformation of the waterfront, and, for the first time in decades, a view opened up from the city centre right down to the river Tay.
Over the festive period, onlookers could finally see the external walls falling away.
The demolition of the old Olympia swimming pool moved forward in January 2014 with diggers on site to tear the rest of the iconic building down.
Grabber and pulveriser machines chewed down the concrete and steel structure before the stonework was crushed for foundation infill of the V&A.
The biggest and most dramatic problem they encountered was part of the roof falling away unexpectedly which collapsed on a digger and its driver.
The driver of the digger remarkably escaped injury and was able to walk away from the scene after the majority of wreckage fell on the machine’s mechanical arm.
Workers from Central Demolition took several hours to free the trapped digger following the Olympia roof collapse which sent clouds of dust soaring over the Tay.
The old Olympia was finally reduced to a towering pile of rubble in February 2014 before the site was finally cleared in mid-April for redevelopment.
Veteran city councillor Ian Borthwick marked its final curtain call and said the site’s initial development represented a progressive spirit in Dundee.
He said: “The Olympia was hugely important to this city, because it made so many leisure activities accessible to everyone in the city, rather than a privileged few.
“That was always the idea and, in the end, it was extraordinarily popular.”
The waterfront as it was 10 years ago is now completely unrecognisable following the sheer scale of change the city has undergone to make space for V&A Dundee.
The city’s train station, the old Olympia, the towering former council HQ at Tayside House, the Hilton Hotel and the Gala Casino building have all gone.
The old Olympia of course was replaced by a new swimming pool — which was also called the Olympia — costing £33.5m at East Whale Lane.
Boasting a 50m pool, wave pool, rapid river, four flumes, dive pool, activity pool and café, the £13m centre was initially a successful replacement for its predecessor.
The pools initially shut last October after a lighting issue was identified and will stay shut until October 2023 for major repairs reaching seven-figures.
In total, 39 areas have been identified for repairs or upgrades.
The new pool’s closure will further fuel nostalgia of the coloured bands, the café, and those flumes that took daredevils out over the Tay at the old Olympia.
What a time to be alive!
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