Swindon has a remarkable history and unique collection of heritage assets, fuelled largely by the development of Brunel’s Swindon Railway Works in the 1840s. After years of declining demand and changes in the railway industry, the works closed in 1986. Since then, many of these historic buildings have been neglected, becoming a visual impediment to inward investment and frustrating regeneration.
Since 2017, we have been working with Swindon Borough Council and its partners to unlock a new future for the Health Hydro Victorian baths and Mechanics Institute. For many Swindonians, these assets provide personal connections to their own family histories. Recognising this, as well as local benefits these assets can offer, our approach has sought to engage local communities throughout the comprehensive visioning, options appraisal and business planning process.
Our work on the Health Hydro has helped secure £6.5m of additional investment and will see the facility returned to being a vital centre for community health and wellbeing – a contemporary expression of its original intent and purpose. Similarly, our work on the Mechanics’ Institute has lighted on a mixed-use proposal that puts culture and community at its centre, and has kick-started the process for returning it back to quasi-public ownership.
“Working with Fourth Street on the Mechanics has been a pleasure, with a well-informed, supportive and professional approach to producing the necessary information in an agreed timescale, including community engagement in a style which really did engage and inform those attending the meetings. I would recommend Fourth Street to organisations looking at similar projects.”