How it all started, and what stage is it at now?

From the seed of an idea

Yorkshire Swim Works was conceived during a lockdown quest to find amazing + safe places to swim outdoors. 

Collaborative thinking

The idea was shared with a group of expansive thinkers, and has grown into a project with real potential.

Join the journey

Please let us know if you think your time, ideas or money can help to make Yorkshire Swim Works vision become a reality. 

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Exploring the opportunity –
with thanks to Bradford Council

The Yorkshire Swim Works sparked the imagination of Bradford Council, aligning with several key priorities in the Council Plan.
A research grant of £4500 was awarded by Bradford Council to explore the economic viability of The Yorkshire Swim Works in April 2022.
“Exploring the Opportunity for Yorkshire Swim Works” was completed in September 2022.

It explores the following:

The outdoor swimming sector

Labelled as one of the fastest growing activities in the UK, there has been a rapid rise in participation, public awareness and media coverage of outdoor swimming. 

This section explores and provides insight into the UK outdoor swimming sector and demonstrates how the  proposition behind YSW would align with the expectations and needs of its potential users and wider stakeholders, covering:

  • Health & Well-being
  • Safety and Education
  • Safety and Water Quality 
  • Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility
  • Sport and Culture 
  • Demand and Provision
Similar global projects

YSW aims to become the first public natural swimming pool in the UK. 

There is an opportunity to create a unique facility on Thornton Moor of  architectural, cultural and sporting importance, becoming the highest altitude public outdoor pool in the UK. 

As shown in Section 1 of this report, natural swimming facilities like YSW are not common in the UK. This section includes comparative examples from around the globe. It highlights a number of key considerations for the successful development of a facility with the central focus of a public natural swimming pool (NSP):

  • Strict guidelines for water quality to be developed with governing organisations
  • Inclusive timetables and admissions pricing structures
  • Ancillary activities and scheme development  to enable all-year round operation
  • Sustainable development at the core including renewable energy sources
  • Educating users in terms of showering and clothing when using the pool to minimise contamination of the water
  • Swimmer numbers must be monitored throughout the day to ensure optimal water quality
The proposed site at Thornton Moor

The proposition for the YSW is to repurpose a slice of Yorkshire’s Victorian industrial heritage ~ the Thornton Moor Water Treatment Works ~ into a facility that meets modern societal needs and becomes a future cultural and civil asset. 

YSW offers an opportunity to connect with our past by harnessing the existing architectural features of the 4 water filtration basins, associated pipework & adjoining conduits into the new pool design. 

YSW intends to put nature at the heart of everything, to create a brand new green and blue space that engenders an inclusive, resilient and biodiverse community. 

At this early stage, consultation and informed decisions can be made on how best to develop the facility in a sustainable manner; working with, rather than towards, net-zero & clean-growth targets.

The report aims to provide information to determine whether the site is fit-for-purpose, as well as the extent of any ecological and biodiversity potential and how the facility can be developed sustainably and in harmony with regional and local development planning conditions (because of the site being classified as greenbelt).

Gagarin Studios (architects, site visit and development of initial concept sketches) provide their initial rationale for development, based on RIBA sustainable development criteria. The report also suggests approaches for renewable energy. 

Concept sketches for Yorkshire Swim Works are included along with landholding, locality maps and site photographs.

Potential users and engagement

For this Stage 1 Feasibility Report the aim was to engage with as wide and diverse an audience as possible – to gain views on the ‘want’ and ‘need’ for Yorkshire Swim Works, by  reaching out to the regional community and then nationally via social media and raising awareness and profile via press coverage.

The brand and project was announced on May 17th 2022 – 

Facebook page followers 1000 +
Social media reach in excess of 40k
Email subscribers 500 +
Survey respondents 2200

Analysis is provided for all of the above, and coverage from BBC, The Guardian, Yorkshire Post is all detailed.

Economic opportunities

Yorkshire Swim Works and the site at Thornton Moor has the potential to become a sustainable year-round eco-tourism destination – a purpose built centre for well-being, focused on swimming.

A place to experience the benefits of outdoor swimming, learn about nature and biodiversity, enjoy a wider visit to the South Pennines and to support thriving local communities. Giving rise to 

  • Revenue Generation 
  • Job Creation
  • Tourism Development
  • Investment, Entity and Funding Opportunities

All of the above are explored in the report.

What we plan to do next

With the completion of the report the project team is looking ahead to progress work into Scheme Development and to secure the land.

We have identified and are applying for grant funding. 

Can you help?

Attract investment & partnerships

Alongside Phase 2 Feasibility, we will be looking to attract funding and investment for the capital expenditure. Opportunities will be available for phased/partial development, or for the entire project.

Partnerships will also be key to The Yorkshire Swim Works to ensure its development is sustainable and happens for all the right reasons:

  • to serve the community
  • to connect people with nature
  • to encourage participation in outdoor swimming
  • to offer a training and events venue for triathlon
  • to boost the local economy and tourism
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