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!