Tradesman Dives in to Commonwealth Pool Project

A scuba diving enthusiast landed a plum job when he was assigned to help with the regeneration of Scotland’s best known swimming pool.

Craig Emond and 15 colleagues from Arthur McKay – one of the UK’s leading building support services firms – were commissioned by GRAHAM Construction, the main contractor on the project to install the entire electrical installation including underwater lighting at Edinburgh’s iconic Royal Commonwealth Pool.

Not only will the system give scuba divers like Craig greater visibility in the watery depths, it will also help light the way for synchronised swimmers at the 2014 Commonwealth games in Scotland and for the UK Olympic swimming team who will complete their training at the pool.

Aside from his day job with Arthur McKay, Craig, 42, from Selkirk in the Borders, has been diving since 1991 and is part of a diving club which regularly trains at the Commonwealth Pool, affectionately known to its users as “the Commie”.

He said: “It was fantastic for me to be a part of the regeneration of the Commie because of my diving background. It was also a pleasure because of the iconic nature of the building which is such an important part of Scotland sporting heritage.

“My diving club usually trains locally in Hawick but twice a year for the past ten years we have been coming to the Commie to make use of the additional depth in their diving pool. The facilities were great for us, but were getting a bit tired.”

GRAHAM Construction’s £37 million pound refurbishment included fitting each of the three pools within the facility with a moving floor to raise or lower the depth.

The main pool eight-lane has been extended by 1.5m and a special boom installed to allow it to be split into two 25m pools.

Meanwhile, the 25m diving pool has been widened to six lanes and deepened to 6m. Four new diving columns housing five diving boards were also installed, up to a height of 10m to meet with international requirements for major diving events.

A new dry diving practice area with trampolines and safety harness has also been created to allow divers to practice without hitting the water.

Paul McBurney, project manager at GRAHAM Construction said: “Arthur McKay’s innovative approach meant the delivery of the electrical installation work was achieved with the minimum of fuss and without compromising the fabric of the building.

“The redevelopment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool was a hugely complex operation relying on the effective joint working of dozens of subcontractors and Arthur McKay proved themselves to be professional operators who were part of the team which delivered the project on time and on budget.”

Although operating UK-wide with 630 staff, Arthur McKay was founded and headquartered in Edinburgh, making the firm’s £1.8 million involvement in the project particularly pleasing.

Adam Kinnear, project manager with Arthur McKay said: “We are delighted to have been a part of this. It is great showcase of the work we do at Arthur McKay and was completed to the most demanding of standards.

“As well as all the electrical elements in the building, we supported the installation of Swiss timing to the starting blocks and scoreboards for swimming competitions and installed the containment for the underwater safety cameras in all three pools.

“It was a fairly technical project due to the fact that the building is Grade A listed. This meant that we had to strip out and renew all of the services without in anyway damaging the listed elements.

“As a local company Arthur McKay understands how important this pool is to Edinburgh and its residents. It is a real landmark in the city and to have been able to be a part of bringing it back to life is a real honour for the team.   

“We can definitely guarantee to anyone using the new commonwealth pool they really are able to look forward to a bigger, better, lighter and brighter Commie.”

The fifty metre pool which was originally built for the 1970 commonwealth games has held three games in total and will be ready to hold its fourth in 2014. It’s also been selected by the British swimming squad as the final training camp in July 2012 ahead of the London Olympics.

Scuba diver Craig said: “As a local company it was brilliant for us to be working on a building which is such an important part of Edinburgh. I’m as guilty as anyone for having taken the pool for granted. It’s fair to say you don’t realise the scale of the place until you have worked on it.”

Arthur McKay completed its part of project early last month after working on it since 2009.

Arthur McKay is one of Scotland’s largest building support services group, specialising in electrical and mechanical maintenance, facilities management and networking. Founded in 1958 by Arthur McKay, the £63million a year company employs over 630 staff operating out of offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.

More information about Arthur McKay can be found at

Contact: Holyrood PR
Phone: 0131 561 2244