A new vision for historic building

By Amanda Wilkins - 28 February 2024

AttractionsHeritageCommunityHealthClubs & Activities

Local Swindon group, ‘Friends of Swindon Health Hydro’, have put together their vision of what they would like the historic building to provide for the Swindon community.

The Health Hydro is a unique building that was part of a total health service funded from rail workers’ pay packets. The building and the services that it provided were the inspiration for the National Health Service.

The Hydro has played a central part in the town’s history, but it is also of national, not just local importance, with the building now listed as Grade II* by Historic England.

The 'Friends of the Swindon Health Hydro' would like to see the building once again at the heart of the local community, bustling with life: delivering community health and well-being requirements. They believe it should be a social hub for local families that also includes leisure facilities for the wider town.

The group would like to see the building refurbished in a way that would suit the requirements of future generations, whilst retaining its unique character. They hope that their aspirations for the Health Hydro will soon become a reality.

Their vision includes the promotion of health and wellbeing with a provision of leisure facilities, alongside the preservation of the building’s heritage and history. They would like the building to become a community hub that is financially sustainable, environmentally viable and in particular, energy efficient.

The groups overall ambition includes the reinstatement of the small pool, a fully restored and enhanced Turkish Baths area that could offer a full spa experience and the former wash hall becoming a community hub at the heart of the building alongside a small café.

They would also like to see for multi-functional spaces used for community activities, children’s parties, exhibitions and conferences, alongside dedicated offices for community groups.

A spokesperson said: “We have received more comments on the small pool than any other aspect of the Hydro, it is important to so many in Swindon and has become a highly emotive subject since its untimely closure 7 years ago.

“We fully advocate the reinstatement of the small pool. This is where generations of Swindonians learnt to swim.

“It is the perfect facility for schools to meet their responsibility to teach Swindon’s children to swim.”

They feel there are opportunities for the National Health Service and for complementary medicine to work side by side in the building with doctors’ surgeries and dentist practices alongside chiropractors and other practitioners. 

A spokesperson said: “There will need to be correct management of the building and continued support from Swindon Borough Council and the National Health Service”

“Let’s demonstrate that we still have pride in Swindon as a town. The Health Hydro was a centre of excellence in the delivery of medical and bathing facilities.

“It was built to high standards with the best materials. It is still fit for use in ways that put many more modern buildings to shame. Fully restored, it can deliver the same values that inspired it to be built 130 years ago.”


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