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New opportunities... Hokonui Engineering owners Mandy and Guy Henderson have sold the former Gore Swimming Baths site they operated their business from to the Nelson Petroleum Distributors who plan to build a self-serve fuel station there. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

Sixteen years ago, when Mandy and Guy Henderson’s children heard their parents had bought a swimming pool, they were delighted – now the couple have sold the former Gore swimming baths to Nelson Petroleum Distributors Ltd (NPD).

The baths, located on the corner of Mersey and River Sts, opened in 1943 and closed when the Gore Aquatic Centre opened in Robertson St, in 2002.

Mrs Henderson said when the couple won the tender to buy the baths from the Gore District Council the three children had high hopes of swimming in the pool.

“They were very excited ’cause they had their own swimming pool,” Mrs Henderson said.

“‘Til they found out we wouldn’t fill it up,” Mr Henderson said.

“They were a bit heartbroken.”

The children were very familiar with the pool.

“They all learned to swim here.

“We all swam here – I just never thought we’d be here every day,” she said.

The couple saw the newspaper advertisement advising the pool was up for tender and Mrs Henderson remarked,”I wonder what anyone would do with an old swimming pool”.

Later that day Mr Henderson came up with the idea of what the pool could be used for and so it came to pass.

After the couple took ownership of the complex, they filled in most of the large pool with rubble and poured a concrete pad to make a new floor to use as premises for their business Hokonui Engineering.

Some people were slow to catch on that the pool was now an engineering shop.

“Three or four years after we were here, there were still people coming in with their togs under their arms,” Mr Henderson said.

NPD had approached the couple two years about buying the property but the deal was sealed last week.

The couple were not semi-retiring but planned to take their engineering business on the road.

“It’s just a change I think; more so than winding down.

“We’ll be mobile engineering, so we’ll still be Hokonui Engineering,” Mrs Henderson said.

NPD chief executive Barry Sheridan said a self-serve fuel station will be built on the site.

“This allows NPD to provide lower-priced fuel to all local and travelling motorists, offering instant savings without the need for loyalty cards or supermarket dockets.

“There will be six spacious refuelling lanes with 12 pumping positions and easy access and exiting from the site,” Mr Sheridan said.

Demolition of the engineering workshop will begin in about two weeks and construction is scheduled to start on April 1.

“We are expecting to be pumping fuel in mid June of this year.”

The location will operate 24/7 so motorists can fill up at a time that suits them.

“The site location is close to State Highway 1 and will be easily accessible for light and heavy vehicles.

“It’s also convenient for the residential and business community in Gore,” Mr Sheridan said.