The Aquadome Story

In 1959 a swimming and diving pool was constructed on the side of the hill alongside Wellington East Girls College (WEGC). It was an outdoor, unheated concrete pool built by hand.

It was generally only used in the summer months and many ex pupils have fond and not so fond memories of swimming in the pool during their time at the school.

This situation remained the same for almost 30 years, with the only real change the loss of the diving pool in the 1970’s. Subsequent redevelopment at the school saw more buildings appear in the immediate area as the school grew, including the main gym currently alongside the pool which was finished in 2008.

Time had taken its toll on the pool by 2008 and it was in need of some serious maintenance, meaning it was seldom in use for more than ten weeks a year.

Around the same time some people involved in swimming were investigating the state of school pools in the

Wellington City area with a view to trying to encourage government and council to reverse the trend of vanishing school pools.

So in 2009 an agreement was formed between a Charitable Trust (The Swimming Trust of Wellington) and the school to look at the redevelopment of the pool, with a view to it being used all year round.

The WEGC Parents Association got the ball rolling with a grant to have concept plans drawn up.

Initially enthusiasm was high and financial expectations low, however as time went by the task became larger than imagined and from an initial fundraising target of

$890,000 the total grew to $1.3 million.

Everyone stayed on track, remaining patient and supportive, lateral thinking was required at times and funding applications were submitted far and wide.

The Wellington City  Council  voted around the same time to set up a Schools Pool Fund to assist schools to renovate their pools. This was the kick start the project needed to get going and the Trust secured two grants totalling $650,000, some on condition that the remaining funding could be achieved.

Original photos

courtesy of the Turnbull Library.

Construction phase.

From then on the response was fantastic and all the funding agencies played their part in helping move things along. NZ Community Trust and The Lion Foundation along with the Lottery Grants  Board  were  responsible for granting $300,000 between them. Then we had the

Eastern Suburbs Sports Trust contribute $150,000 to help lock in the council funding.

Moore Wilson’s and NZ Milk Company were two corporate sponsors with an interest in the local community and were happy to support such a cause.

This support gave us the funds to commit to the project and begin the process of building.

The following funding organisations also played a big part, purchasing equipment and services, sometimes with multiple grants, to get where we are today:

  • First Sovereign Trust (Water Filters/Lighting/Gas costs)
  • Four Winds Foundation (Water Heating/Pool Painting)
  • Infinity Foundation (Water Heating/Lighting)
  • NZ Racing Board (Lane Lines/Lane Roller)
  • Pelorus Trust (Pool Painting/Thermal Blankets)
  • Pub Charity Ltd (Lighting)
  • Trust House Foundation (Pool Painting/Thermal Blankets)
  • Wellington Community Trust (Building Enclosure)

 

The Aquadome ready for use!

We also ran a Pledge Me appeal to help pay for water pumps which raised $7500.

The project was always going to be difficult with only limited funds available so there was a lot of favours called in and free labour required to ensure that it came in on budget.

And so there it is, a nice new indoor swimming pool available for schools use during the school day and community use outside those hours.

Looking ahead, the challenge will be to implement the business plan and generate sufficient income  to  cover the operational and maintenance costs. The current gas costs alone amount to $3000 per month. However, as an organisation committed to ensuring a bright future for the pool, we are confident that all goals can be achieved and many children will benefit from this facility for years to come.

Thanks for your support, Kind Regards

Steve Hind

Chairman, The Swimming Trust of Wellington

 

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