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The mission to find a new home for Yorkshire Swim Works has begun!

As some of you may know, Yorkshire Swim Works was seeded in 2020. The ambition is to create a community hub of outdoor activity with the central focus of an open air natural swimming pool. Eco-lodges will provide financial sustainability, and there will be learning and wellness facilities for everyone.

The original site (the former Thornton Moor Water Treatment Works) was sadly sold at Auction in the summer of 2023, and we’re now looking for an even better location.

We’ve looked at some sites already, and are beginning to develop the brief: 


  • Scope to become a community focused hub of outdoor swimming and outdoor activity, learning and wellness
  • Scope for an eco-lodge retreat (this will be the financial thrust behind the facility) 
  • Approx size 5-7 acres
  • Located in Calderdale or Bradford District
  • Accessible by car, construction vehicle
  • Attractive to tourists – a lovely view for example, or has an existing usual feature
  • Not on a flood plain


  • On an existing public transport route, or scope to create one
  • On existing confluence of cycling & walking routes
  • Existing body of water (not essential)
  • Has industrial heritage – former quarry, mill site
  • Will promote biodiversity
  • Can be owned by the community
  • Budget – we were prepared to purchase the former Water Treatment Works for £160k, the financial modelling worked at this level.
  • Greenbelt?
  • Heritage status?
  • Negotiable access if across third party land

Council support is crucial

We are meeting with Bradford Council and Calderdale Council in October 2023 to explore:

  • their stance on sustainable development on greenbelt (we think some of the best potential sites will have this status)
  • continued support to make Yorkshire Swim Works happen for the benefit our combined communities
  • suitable Council owned assets that we could secure as a community

Please get involved

We’d love nothing more than to involve our wonderful community in helping to find a new site.

You all know your local area far better than we do, so please don yer thinking caps. Have you seen any opportunities? Would you like Yorkshire Swim Works located near you? Please continue to forward ideas.

If you think you bring practical and useful support during this stage of site identification and analysis, and would like to join our working group of two, or simply undertake some directed work, please contact us. 

P.S. Thanks as ever to the wonderful PlanIT Design Practise for their involvement and collation of these images

A new chapter

Thanks and a quick look back

As founder of Yorkshire Swim Works, I’m writing to say a huge thanks to every single person who has supported and been involved in the journey so far. I’ve been so inspired by the desire for this ambitious project to happen, and have met so many fabulous folk, and now I fully intend to start a new chapter and bring this project to life to serve and inspire the communities of our region.

3 years ago, I stood in one of four large basins of the abandoned water treatment works, built in the Victorian times to filter water from Thornton Moor reservoir. I couldn’t stop thinking about how incredible it would be to re-purpose them into a unique outdoor swimming experience, where the water was clear, and filtered naturally (rather than with damaging chemicals).

I walked and talked with a few talented people who worked in community, heritage, design, sport and culture, about my idea; over a few months and hours of conversation we collectively managed to stimulate the beginnings of Yorkshire Swim Works.

Exploring and galvanising support

I took the project to Bradford Council who were excited at the prospect of supporting this aspirational but all-inclusive public amenity – it chimes with the strategic plan of Bradford Council, and they think it will be a brilliant addition to Ilkley Lido, offering more safe spaces for people to benefit from swimming outdoors.

They funded a piece of research that enabled us to explore the project in greater depth and galvanise support. Over 6 months, an intense body of work culminated in detailed findings that highlighted how Yorkshire Swim Works would have positive impact for peoples health & wellbeing, the rural economy, education, culture and more.

Although Bradford sadly are not currently in a financial position to build Yorkshire Swim Works, we wholeheartedly believe any funding for Yorkshire Swim Works that comes from Central Government via Bradford would be incredibly well spent. We also think the protection of the correct site as a community asset is critical.

Just when we were ready to buy, the site sold at Auction

Yorkshire Swim Works became a Community Interest Company in January, and Nick Stuart joined the journey bringing a commercial and fundraising focus to the project. He wants somewhere amazing for his daughter to be able to use when she grows up. With his time and expertise (all on a voluntary basis too) we devised a funding strategy involving a community share raise to purchase the site from Yorkshire Water.

Sadly, due to a classic case of community and commercial misalignment, and despite our monumental effort during a 10 day emergency crowdfund, the site was sold at Auction on 12 July 2023. The private buyer intends to build a couple of large houses for his family on the site.

Although unbelievably disappointed (I think I cried for 2 days), we’ve rallied over the Summer, and actually count ourselves lucky. We have a delightfully engaged community of potential users, an incredibly strong network of specialists who have helped to steer and guide the project (including the wonderful Future Lidos), a very good idea of how to strategically fund the project, some interested investors, buckets of determination, and a willingness to find a new site.

The search continues

We’re still talking with Bradford Council, and we’d love nothing more than to involve our wonderful community in helping to find a new site. We’re now on a mission to raise £10,000 to facilitate this new and exciting chapter. Over a period of a few months, this money will enable us to

  • carry out new site research
  • produce light touch design concepts
  • continue to engage and build our community and wider stakeholders
  • create a stronger working group with those who have offered their help so far
  • develop a flexible business plan & funding strategy

We’re looking at various funding options and grant pots, and would also like to ask you, our wonderful community, to support this essential stage of research, please. 

Watch this space!