Developer PlaceFirst has completed the £4m refurbishment and conversion of the grade 2*-listed Ashton Old Baths and sold the building to Tameside Council for use as a business centre.
The project was funded with the support of grants of £1m from European Regional Development Fund, £1m from Tameside Council and £1.7m Heritage Lottery Fund.
Ashton Old Baths sat empty for 40 years until PlaceFirst 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 an event space.
A self-contained, free-standing office pod offers over 6,000 sq ft of office space over four floors, complemented by 4,000 sq ft of meeting rooms, breakout spaces, and a new rooftop terrace. The new structure was designed to minimise physical impacts on the building structure, and to preserve the spatial quality of the main bathing hall, one of the largest in the country and second largest in Europe when the baths opened in 1870.
The steel framed, timber clad structure is a much-loved local landmark and its restoration is the latest phase of the regeneration of 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 structure, and former ancillary spaces and changing rooms have been integrated into the design, forming a new building entrance, new toilet 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. This includes the council who have been a huge support throughout the project and the contractor, HH Smith, who worked superbly under demanding conditions. 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 is currently procuring a suitably experienced operator for the new building, and propose to offer a range of facilities for businesses and events.
On Saturday 19 March at 7.30pm Ashton Old Baths will host a public event to celebrate the recently completed renovation. It will be a free, open air, audio-visual event featuring the story of Ashton Old Baths from its 1870 beginning up until the present day, celebrating the building’s past and future.
Cllr Jim Fitzpatrick, leader of Tameside Council, said: “Bringing Ashton Old Baths back into use is a significant achievement and I am really proud of the way in which the council, working with partners including Placefirst, the Heritage Lottery Fund, AGMA and the European Regional Development Fund have breathed life back into this fantastic building. The celebration event on the 19 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.”
The architect was ModernCity Architecture + Urbanism, formerly PlaceFirst Architects.