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Ashton Old Baths Converted into Creative Hub

Ashton Old Baths, Ashton-under-Lyne, has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since it was first published in 1998. It has finally been removed from the Register following a £4 million refurbishment to convert the former public baths into a creative hub for businesses in the digital, creative and media sectors.

Exceptional in its time

A report on the poor sanitary conditions of the town in 1843 mentioned the need for public baths. The Grade II* listed building was constructed at a cost of £16,000 and opened to the public in 1870. It was one of the first and largest municipal facilities of its time and was reputedly the second largest in Europe.

The building, designed by Henry Paull and George Robinson, is constructed almost entirely of brick, with some stone decoration. It was built in a Byzantine style and has a 120 feet high tower which housed the flues from the steam boilers and heaters.

Each year during the winter months, when the main baths were closed, the pool was covered over and used as an ice-skating rink, concert hall and meeting rooms. The space could accommodate up to 4,000 people.

Wooden office pod inside a large red brick Byzantine style building.
PlaceFirst built a large free standing pod inside Ashton Old Baths, a design approach which has minimum impact on the historic fabric of the building © Historic England

Creative renovation

The building closed in 1975 when more modern facilities were built. It languished for 40 years, deteriorating and suffering vandalism. PlaceFirst acquired the site in 2014, inserting a free standing office pod inside the structure, a design approach which has minimum impact on the historic fabric. The works were funded by a £1.7 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant under its flagship Heritage Enterprise scheme, as well as £1 million of European Regional Development Fund monies and £1 million from Tameside Council.

The creative repair and reuse of the former baths has also been a major factor in Ashton Town Centre Conservation Area being removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.

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