WASHINGTON’S new 25 metre pool is being filled for the first time – by the fire brigade.
When full, it will hold nearly half-a-million litres (475,000 litres, 104,485 gallons or 835,883 pints) of water.
A fire appliance from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has been helping put the pool through its paces to test that it’s watertight, by starting the filling of the pool as part of regular crew training.
Once checked and monitored for being watertight, 15,000 tiles will be cemented in place over the next few weeks.
The pool and its two water slides, together with a learner pool, are a key feature of the £11m replacement Washington Leisure Centre which is due to open in late spring next year.
Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Harry Trueman said: “It’s really exciting to see the leisure centre taking shape so quickly. This is going to be a fantastic facility both for people in Washington and the wider city and its an important part of the work we’re doing to encourage more people to be more active.
“Since 2004 we’ve invested more than £60m in the development of sport and leisure provision across the city and facilities like this are testament to the council’s commitment to sport and leisure.”
The 475,000 litres needed to fill the pool to capacity is coming from the mains.
Station Manager Steve Graham, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “In addition to saving lives and property, our service is about helping the community. This morning’s work has been slotted into part of our training programme.
“It’s given us a fresh challenge and an opportunity to familiarise ourselves with this major new facility for the community of Washington.”
The entire process of gradually filling and testing the pool structure takes eight to nine days with a seven day saturation period and a further seven days of testing.
Funding for the project was first announced as part of Sunderland City Council’s £60m capital programme last year and work began in February this year. The new leisure centre is being built by Design and Build contractor Pellikaan Construction, which specialises in sports and leisure centres.
The company also built the Hetton Community Pool and Wellness Centre and the Silksworth Community Pool.
Pellikaan Director, Gert-Jan Peeters said: “Filling the pool and testing the pool structure is always an important milestone in the construction period. After the test period it allows us to start finishing the pool tiling and surroundings meaning we are now moving into the final stages of this project.”
The centre will also boast a soft play area across two levels and a four court sports hall and a gym twice the size of the existing wellness facility.
Other features include:
• a dedicated trampoline hall, allowing training to an international standard
• two glass-backed squash courts
• sauna and steam rooms with an additional relaxation area
• 100 space car park in response to public demand.
As part of the second phase there will be six state-of-the-art 3rd Generation (3G) artificial grass, five-a-side football pitches allowing football to be played in all weathers.
The new centre is being built next to the existing Washington Leisure Centre. The old centre will be demolished once the new facility is open, allowing work to start on the new car park and outdoor pitches.
John Kelly, the senior councillor responsible for Public Health, Wellness and Culture in Sunderland, added: “There’s still work to be done before the leisure centre opens in late spring but filling the pool for the first time is an important milestone in the construction of a facility that will be enjoyed by generations to come.”