16th March 2021

Save Swindon’s Oasis Dome

Back in January I wrote this post, in my Swindon in 50 More Buildings series, about the Oasis in Swindon. In that I gave mention of the Save the Swindon Oasis campaign.

If you’re a Facebook user you’ll find them here: https://www.facebook.com/saveoasis

Video here, by Karl Webb, showing the Oasis and the celebrity support for the campaign: https://fb.watch/4i9oofREml/


Now I feel moved to put furious fingers to my keyboard on the topic of the Swindon Oasis Dome. The cause of my ire? The appearance of the image below on my social media stream this morning. I nearly choked on my first black coffee of the day!

Screen shot from Swindon Borough Council social media - Save Swindon's Oasis Dome


That’s not my Oasis!

No!!! And a thousand times more: No!!



FOUR things ‘say’ Swindon:

  1. The GWR Railway village
  2. The David Murray John tower
  3. The Magic Roundabout – https://swindonian.me/category/the-magic-roundabout/
  4. The Oasis – in its current and original form

2, 3 and 4 in that list have instantly recognisable outlines. They’re the muse for artists of every genre. No 3 inspired a song (allegedly) and No 4 inspired a pop group’s name. I can’t see the above doing any of that can you?

This does though:

Save Swindon's Oasis Dome- The Oasis Pleasure Dome

No appreciation for what you have

What we see in in that image SBC is proof, if any proof were needed, that you have not one iota of appreciation for, nor understanding of, the treasures you have in their charge. The neglect of the public art being a big case in point and the West Swindon sculpture walk in particular.

In my very cynical moments (Cynical? Me?!) I wonder if there’s not shades of the Festival of Britain going on there. Y’know, when the incoming Conservative government demolished the Skylon with unseemly haste …but I digress.

What we also see is the contempt that you hold for the views and the desires of the people you purport to serve. The arrogance is breathtaking.

THIS thing that looks a like a Didcot power station reject – is NOT what Save Oasis Swindon want. And I’d venture to suggest that it’s not what most of Swindon’s people want either.

If you think that ‘this’ bathes you in any kind of a ‘oh-look-at-our-amazing-plan-for-the-oasis-aren’t we-great’ sort of light you’d perhaps best sack your spin doctor. #justsaying

The point missed

The whole point of the Oasis is its very form: the dome! The Dome is the Oasis. And the Oasis is the dome. One is synonymous with the other. Any restoration that takes away the dome IS NOT a restoration of the Oasis. It’s merely a pool.

It’s a building with architectural and cultural significance. It also has pop history significance. It’s iconic and it’s a Swindon landmark. More of all that on the aforementioned blog. The above would be ‘any pool’. No one wants ‘any pool’. What we want is the Oasis as it is.

Accessibility

The other factor making this pool special is its accessibility. This is a super important point that’s being overlooked I fear.

The Oasis is not only the only leisure/fun pool for MILES – the nearest being Bracknell – it’s also the only fully accessible facility for children and those with mobility issues.

Its lagoon shape, that you can simply walk into as you’d walk into the sea itself, is perfect for families and the less mobile. There is nothing else like it in Swindon – or for miles around.



So much lost

Swindon has lost so much. Don’t let’s add this to the list. While I very much welcome the news of the funding for the Health Hydro, one does not substitute for the other! The cultural significance of Milton Road baths cannot be overstated. And I’ll back to the hilt all moves to save/refurbish etc that facility.

But the Oasis does matter too. For very different reasons but it matters nonetheless.

There’s an almost endless list of great stuff lost or misused. This building a case in point: https://swindonian.me/2021/03/13/1-3-faringdon-road-swindon/ What exactly has happened to the fund that WG Little set up? But I digress – again.

From Swindon Link magazine

An article from Swindon Link published today: https://swindonlink.com/news/future-of-oasis/

‘Swindon Borough Council has released an architectural drawing of the new multi-million pound SevenCapital plan to transform The Oasis into a regional waterpark. But they have warned that the plans could be scuppered if an application to Historic England to give the site listed status is approved, a claim that is disputed by the Save Oasis Swindon campaign.’

Well … to paraphrase the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies – they would say that wouldn’t they?

And from the Save the Oasis campaign:

“Historic England reassured MP Robert Buckland very recently in discussions, that if the Oasis becomes a listed building, then they will work with him and any developer to make sure that a renovation can happen. This was posted on Robert Buckland’s own Facebook page on 16th February 2021.

“So why are the Council continuing to suggest that approval of the listing application will scupper refurbishment, resulting in the permanent demise of the Oasis? Why don’t they reach out to Historic England and work with them in a constructive way? We fear that the listing could be used as a get out card for both Seven Capital and Swindon Borough Council, if they don’t find a way forward. That is unacceptable.’

The VERY worst thing about this apparent plan for me is that …

… Aside from the cluelessness about why the Oasis matters is the dishonesty. And the arrogance.

Had you explored all avenues and found nothing possible SBC and you’d then said: ‘look, we’re really sorry but we can’t save the Oasis but we can do this instead’ then that would at least be honest. But that’s not the case is it?!

And instead you’re dressing this up as you saving the iconic Oasis for future generation when it’s nothing of the sort. This is the computer-generated equivalent of a pat on the head and a lollipop.

Not forgetting the blaming of Historic England for wanting to list the building and using that as a reason why not. Oh PLEASE! I’m not an architecture expert but I do know that heritage/listed buildings up and down the country have been regenerated with great success.
And on that matter see this: https://swindonian.me/2021/03/25/oasis-campaign-seeks-sustainable-solutions/

In conclusion

Please: Save Swindon’s Oasis – as it is now.


See also: