Ashton Old Baths: New Beginnings

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Manchester based property developer PlaceFirst working with Tameside Council has completed the £4m refurbishment and conversion of the Grade II* listed Ashton (Old) Baths. The project has been funded with grants of £1,000,000 from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £1,712,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Ashton Old Baths, an iconic Greater Manchester landmark, has sat empty for over 40 years until PlaceFirst Ltd acquired the building in 2014, and is now set to become home to a new digital, creative & media hub, offering flexible office accommodation, SME incubator services designed to accelerate growth and a unique event space designed to captivate, wow and inspire staff, clients and guests of the building.

Behind the restored exterior of the baths there is now is one of the most ground breaking and visually stunning commercial office spaces in the country.

A self-contained, free-standing office ‘pod’ offers over 7,000sq.ft of flexible office space over four floors, including meeting rooms, alongside 1,500 sq.ft of breakout space and a new stunning rooftop terrace for events. The new structure has been designed to minimise physical impacts on the Grade II* building structure, and to preserve the spatial quality of the large bathing hall, one of the largest in the country and second largest in Europe when it first opened in 1870.

The steel framed, timber clad structure not only provides a unique workspace that will attract quality new business to the town, it has given a much loved local landmark new purpose and helped to build on earlier regeneration work in the St Petersfield area of Ashton-Under-Lyne.

At ground floor a glazed lightweight box offers up views of and through the main hall; the box is broken down into a series of rooms that can be used by both occupiers as office space and meeting rooms. Above that, two floors of office space are provided, culminating in a unique roof terrace that runs the entire length of the building. The roof terrace provides a unique amenity space for occupiers and allows visitors a close up view of the detailed craftsmanship that went into the roof structure.

The exterior of the building has been completely restored and refurbished to preserve the Victorian heritage of the building, and former ancillary spaces and changing rooms have been integrated into the design, forming a new building entrance, new WCs and essential plant space. The new mechanical and electrical services have also been located sensitively to provide minimal impact on the building. The development also benefits from the inclusion of Dark Fibre, which ensures the building offers the fastest broadband speeds available in the UK.

David Smith-Milne, Managing Director of PlaceFirst said “The transformation of Ashton (Old) Baths from derelict landmark to 21st century workspace has been an amazing journey for all involved. Considering we only bought the building just under two years ago, to get such an innovative solution on programme and within budget is testament to the passion and commitment of everyone who has worked on the project. We’re delighted to have played such an important role in the history of this important landmark building and look forward to seeing it go live so that it can continue to play an important role within the wider Ashton-under-Lyne community”.

Since its completion, the building has been acquired by Tameside Council. The council are currently procuring a suitably experienced operator for the new building, and propose to offer a range of facilities for businesses and events.

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On Saturday 19th March at 7.30pm Ashton (Old) Baths hosted a spectacular public event to celebrate the recently completed renovation. It was a free, open-air, audio-visual event including the story of Ashton (Old) Baths from its 1870 beginning up until the present day. A celebration of the building’s past and future.

The event was a huge success, bringing over 1000 spectators. The event was produced by arts outreach group Stone Soup, and brought together almost 200 performers from the borough’s many dance schools.

Councillor Jim Fitzpatrick, Executive Member – First Deputy (Performance and Finance) of Tameside MBC said

The celebration event on the 19th of March is the culmination of years of hard work and determination and I know the community will be as fascinated as I am to see the story unfold through a fascinating audio-visual display showing the past and bright future of this much loved building.”

Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West, said: “The project at Ashton Old Baths has managed to retain the essence of what makes being inside historic buildings so special whilst equipping it to meet the needs of the many new businesses who will now call it home. It’s a fitting example to be the first of many Heritage Enterprise projects to open in England and we are very proud to have supported it with National Lottery players’ money.

This huge building which has stood empty and derelict for over 40 years now houses one of the most innovative, inventive commercial office spaces in the country and has preserved the future of arguably the grandest example of a Victorian swimming baths ever to be built.

 

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