Work begins on Swindon Health Hydro

By Anita Jaynes on 12 December, 2023

Since the Swindon Borough Council-owned leisure centre closed earlier this year, extensive surveys have been carried out, which could not be done while the building was in use.

Now, scaffolding has been put up in order to repair failing roofs and sections of the stonework and windows. This work is part of a £6.9m refurbishment programme which is being funded using money from the Council, the Government’s Towns Fund and Historic England. 

When complete, users will experience substantial improvements with enhanced changing facilities, a new entrance and fitness suite in the former washing baths hall and a new mechanical, electrical and plumbing plant system to service the main pool and improve the building’s environmental performance.

As this is only the first phase of works, further funding is needed for the £5.7m second phase. Last month a £4.6m grant bid was submitted to the National Heritage Lottery Fund, which will aim to fund the completion of the restoration and enhancement of the main pool hall.

Overall, the project will repair and insulate the main pool hall roof, deliver substantial improvements to the building’s environmental performance and undertake conservation works to the exterior and interior including the spectator gallery and stained-glass window. 

The project will also focus on how to showcase the building’s remarkable history and its role in informing the blueprint for the NHS.

The success of the first stage of this bid will be revealed in March 2024. If successful, a second application will then need to be prepared and submitted.

Councillor Marina Strinkovsky, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Heritage, Art and Culture, said, “This bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund signals a new era and wave of optimism for Swindon’s heritage and marks an important milestone for the restoration and regeneration of this building.

“The Hydro is an important landmark for the town and it’s one we want to see restored to its former glory and available for future generations to enjoy.

“We have recently embarked on developing a new Heritage Plan, which will chart our next priorities for unlocking the value and opportunities from Swindon’s rich heritage, not only including the Hydro but also in the rest of the Railway Village and the Borough as a whole.”

Andrea Christmas, from the Friends of the Health Hydro group, added, “’The Friends of the Swindon Health Hydro are fully supportive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund bid for the phase two works on the Hydro, which will consolidate the phase one renovations. Specifically, the improved insulation will see the large pool provide a much better customer experience as well as providing sustainability for the future of this unique building.

“We are also delighted that Historic England has awarded £400,000 towards the renovation of the Health Hydro. The funds will be used to provide some much-needed improvements to the frontage of this important building, which has served the health and well-being of people in Swindon for 130 years.

“Together, these renovations will be helping to ensure that the Health Hydro can serve the people of Swindon for many more years.”

Pictured above: Scaffolding has gone up at the Health Hydro as work to improve the external façade begins