Health Hydro regeneration set to begin

By Barrie Hudson - 23 January 2023

Community

The first phase of work to transform Swindon’s iconic Health Hydro is set to start in a few months’ time.

The historic swimming baths on Milton Road have been in need of an update for a long time and, thanks to funding from the Government’s Towns Fund, GLL - the leaseholder and operator of the Health Hydro - and Swindon Borough Council, the facility will close in April to allow the initial regeneration work to progress.

Although it was announced this week that a funding bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund for future phases was unsuccessful, other funding streams are already being explored.

The council is currently carrying out a tender process to bring in the right contractor to undertake these important first phase works.

Cllr Matty Courtliff, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage, Leisure and Town Centre Experience, said: “This is such an important, historic project for the town centre and Swindon as a whole.

“This work will not only improve the quality of experience to those visiting the centre but also ensure our heritage is protected.

“Making these improvements now is also estimated to increase use of the Health Hydro by local residents and visitors. A big increase that will help towards the financial viability of the site.

“We want to make this centre somewhere people will continue to visit for generations to come and the work must be done with the utmost care to ensure its historical value is not lost.

“It was disappointing to learn this week that our bid for Levelling Up funding was unsuccessful, but we remain confident that the completion of the first phase will significantly aid any future funding bid to help us complete the remainder of the refurbishment programme.”

Working with GLL and Fourth Street, the lead consultant on the project, this first phase of work will include:

- Enhancing the leisure and swim experiences

- Creating a new gym and activity space

- Creating modern, fit for purpose and accessible changing facilities

- Creating a direct access link between the Turkish Baths and new changing facilities

- Replacement and upgrading of mechanical, electrical and plumbing plant systems

- Enabling the full restoration once further funds become available

Completing the first phase is seen as an important catalyst for future funding bids to restore the remainder of the Health Hydro, including the Turkish baths, small pool hall, dispensary and dry-side areas.

The facility will be closed from 1 April for up to 18 months to allow work to take place.

Barnaby Rich, GLL partnership manager for Swindon said: “The Health Hydro has an important cultural and historic role within Swindon that stretches back to 1891. 

"This first step on its journey to regeneration will see us celebrate its history, while providing modern health and leisure facilities, fit for the local community in the 21st Century.

“Having worked closely with Swindon Borough Council on the funding bids and designs, we will also be financing new health and fitness equipment and the ‘fit out’ of the pool hall area.”

Jim Roberts, director of Fourth Street and lead consultant for the project, said: “While there remains considerable further investments to be secured to realise the complete vision for the Health Hydro, this first phase serves as an important milestone and platform on which to build.

“At a time when hundreds of swimming pools across the UK are facing closure, it is a privilege to be working with local stakeholders like the Friends of the Health Hydro on this much loved and nationally significant heritage asset.”

Restoring the Health Hydro is a key objective in the Heritage Action Zone, a partnership between the council and Historic England to regenerate the Railway Village.

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