Cash lifeline for Sheffield community pool

General Manager Alan Joynes in King Edwards Swimming pool on Clarkehouse Road, which will be refurbished over the summer
General Manager Alan Joynes in King Edwards Swimming pool on Clarkehouse Road, which will be refurbished over the summer

A SHEFFIELD swimming pool - taken over 20 years ago by a community trust - has been saved again from the threat of closure.

Initially, a group of local business people stepped forward when the council said it could no longer afford to continue running King Edward’s swimming pool in Clarkehouse Road, Broomhill.

Now, after years of attempts to find the funds for improvements, the same group has pulled together £440,000 to upgrade the building and equipment to ensure a long-term sustainable future.

The pool is due to close after the last session on Sunday, June 17, for a new boiler, air handling unit and roof to be installed by Vinci Construction, which has been carrying out the redevelopment of the neighbouring Kind Edward VII Upper School. It is due to reopen on Monday, September 3.

“Without the work, we would have been looking at closing for good from the end of this month,” said John Cawthorne, who chairs the pool trust.

“This work will reduce our energy costs by 62%, and reduce the cost of repairs and maintenance, and take us from making a minor loss to a profitable business with a long-term future, dramatically reducing our carbon footprint.

“It’s a very satisfactory conclusion after spending a long time to pull the money together, particularly when it is at such a difficult financial time.”

King Edward’s is one of only three community run public pools in Sheffield - the others are at Chapeltown and Upperthorpe - and runs swimming lessons for more than 500 children, along with public sessions.

Although it has remained popular since being taken over from the council, the condition of the building, which dates from the 1930s, when it was funded by parents of King Edward VII School pupils, has left the trust vulnerable to hefty repair bills. The roof is leaking, and the last major overhaul of the building was in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, financial pressures have increased as a result of soaring energy prices.

Now the council is underpinning the redevelopment by contributing £250,000, fulfilling a commitment it made in 2010. Most of the council money has come through a capital receipt from developers to be invested in community facilities at more than 30 school sites.

In addition, Viridor Credits Environmental Company is giving £50,000, the Garfield Weston Foundation, £25,000, and two Sheffield companies are contributing £20,000 each – Lablogic Systems Ltd and Mayfield Fulwood Ltd.

An anonymous donor is also giving £20,000 and a £55,000 loan has been obtained from Key Fund, which supports social enterprises.

The project also includes new electrics, ducting, asbestos removal and some decoration.

“There will be a need for further work in due course in terms of a comprehensive refurbishment of the changing rooms and some other facilities,” said Mr Cawthorne.

King Edward’s pool employs 20 full and part-time staff, including general manager Alan Joynes, who has kept the pool open on a daily basis for the 20 years.

Mr Cawthorne also praised the longstanding commitment of the council and the dedication of Vinci in persevering to resolve a host of technical difficulties and thanked customers for their continuing support.