For some people it is replica cars. For others it is priceless
antiques. For John Cheek, his life works have been dedicated to
rejuvenating tired, old pools. The bigger the challenge the better.
“I would not care if I never built another new build pool,”
declares John, owner of Hydrospec, based in Essex, but carrying
out work all over the UK. Hydrospec is increasingly being called in
to breathe extended life into ageing pools.
“I guess old pools are a kind of passion,” acknowledges John.
“There is something very special about seeing an old photograph
of how something was before and restoring it to its original glory
and in some cases – better than it was originally.”
John Cheek is old school. He first dipped a toe in the pool
market in 1971 after completing a mechanical engineering
apprenticeship. He learned his trade rubbing shoulders with big
names like Penguin, Heritage and Taylor Pools.
A trouble-shooter by nature, he and his team take on the kind
of projects where are other pool companies’ fear to tread.
As well as public pools, the company is increasingly being
asked to rescue school pools, many dating back to the Sixties
and Seventies, when enthusiastic parent, teacher associations
fundraised and shelled out for school pools with little or no
forethought leaving a legacy
of problematic pools with no
foundations, no main drains,
rendered and painted with
minimal consideration for
health and safety.
Hydrospec has roots dating
back to 1989 and some
90% of Hydrospec’s work
these days, is involved in
refurbishment. Many of
Hydrospec’s projects are
local authority owned public pools but the company also has an
outstanding repertoire of school and hotel pools.
Surely, one of the best examples of what Hydrospec can
achieve is the fabulous restoration of the historic Camberwell pool
in London. Originally built in 1891, the building provided public
baths and wash houses for the local community.
The beautifully restored Grade II listed building reopened
earlier this year with a refurbished 25 metre pool and learner pool, re-configured male, female and family changing rooms, new café
John and his team had complete responsibility for the water
“Camberwell does give me an immense amount of pride,” John
concedes. “It was a very difficult job that involved splitting the
original 38m pool into two with a permanent boom.
“These are big, big challenges in every way from pulling out the
old pipework to replacing the plant room and making sure you do
not destroy the integrity of the tank.”
“When we pulled out the glazed brick work in front, we were
confronted with bitumen and horse hair lines with aggregate flint.
Another flagship project is the Dulwich pool in Southwark.
Hydrospec was responsible for the transformation of the pool
while preserving and enhancing its historical Victorian features.
The makeover was not just a cosmetic overhaul. Hydrospec
upgraded all of the water leisure fundamentals of plant and
filtration as well as improving the energy efficiency and
Arguably the oldest pool John and Hydrospec has ever been
asked to undertake was St Edmunds College, Hertfordshire. The
team worked from original photographs dating back to 1895
removing skimmers akin to urinals and heating pipes that ran
along the pool tank.
“I do get frustrated with companies that do not have the same
standards of integrity that we work to,” says John.
“They cut the prices to get the jobs and inevitably get into
trouble,” he adds. “I cannot tell you how much poor work we have
eventually had to put right.
“We will never be the cheapest company to quote for pool
work – but we are always the best value.”
Tel. +44 (0)1277 225416