Investing in your pool for the future

Pool Project Update – 3 April 2024

The perimeter work around the main pool is now complete with the shower area expected to be available again mid-May 2024.  The toddler pool essential works and feature upgrade which will also allow the reinstatement of the slides is expected to be complete in July 2024.

Pool Maintenance Work

The main swimming pool at the Dolphin Centre will be closed while essential maintenance work is carried out.

The work represents a major investment in the pool, which like the centre marked its 40th anniversary in 2022.

The Dolphin Centre opened in November 1982 and has been open for 40 years.

There have been numerous interventions and changes to the building over the years, the most significant in 2006, which resulted in remodelling of the building, however limited work was carried out on the pool, mechanical and electrical installations at that time.

The pool works forms part of a £3.9m improvements programme delivered over the last four years, which have included the installation of the bowling alley, new soft play and gym refurbishment, as well as improvements in changing facilities.

Although the main pool will be temporarily out of action, swimming lessons and lane swimming will still be on offer in the training pool.

The diving pool and toddler pool will also be available during maintenance on the main pool.

Members have also been given the option to freeze their memberships at any time during the refurbishment works.

Background Information

The programme experienced a delay due to additional issues identified as part of the demolition works.  These additional works have included:

  • Cracking in the main pool walls that was not evident from the basement side requiring repair.
  • Realignment of the movement joints in the pool floor to ensure that they run parallel with the tiling and prevent future risks of leaks
  • Additional structural repairs and waterproofing associated with the replacement of input pipes
  • Exposure of areas of structural steelwork and application of corrosion protection.  
  • Application of render to correct the misalignment of the pool, the pool requiring squaring up

The removal of the tiles in the main pool in the early stages of the demolition programme identified that concrete cracking and failure of the movement joint waterproofing had led to chlorinated water leaking through the structure and damaging the steel reinforcement in the concrete. 

This informed further detailed investigation works in other areas where deterioration was previously evident but not thought to require works in the near future. With the greater understanding of the issues, it has highlighted the need for further work more urgently than anticipated.

Recommendations from the structural engineer is that this work should be completed within 2 years which will mean a further pool closure projected to take around 6 months.  Although we do not need to complete this work now and could open in October it has been recommended to do this work whilst the main pool is already closed and some of the work can overlap reducing the overall closure time, costs, and future disruption to customers.  This would delay the opening of the main pool to early January 2024.  At this point the toddler pool would remain closed for a further period whilst work in this area is completed but all other pools would be open. 

A decision is to be made by Cabinet in August to confirm if the pool complex will open in October based on the original programme of works or if further investment can be released to enable this second phase of the pool programme structural works to be completed now avoiding a further closure. 

We appreciate this will be disappointing, but the project is very complicated.  Darlington Borough council are committed to ensuring that residents can continue to enjoy their local pool in the future and will continue to provide our temporary pool programme whilst works complete.

How can I contact the Dolphin Centre to find out further information?

Email: [email protected]