Our Fab Heritage Open Day at Withy Baths

2014-09-15_0005In between the madness of our renovation we took some time out yesterday to help with a Heritage Open Day at Withington Baths, a charity many of you know we’re involved with to try and save a beautiful Edwardian Baths local to us in Manchester. This national weekend celebration of England’s heritage is just wonderful with lots of volunteers and lovers of architecture and design getting out and about to celebrate buildings of every age, function and style. It was the first time Withy Baths had taken part and we had secret tours of the undercroft and into parts of the site not normally open to the public, explaining our Big Vision for the future of the building. Everyone was just lovely and receptive and positive, it was very heartening to see people signing up for Fiver Fever to be a Friend, enjoying their free swim and generally loving such a fabulous part of Withington’s heritage.

Twitter and now *in real life* friend James from Bobby’s Bangers kindly offered his services many weeks back at Levy Market and even though they were broken from four 20hrs days serving pop stars and celebs at Festival No6, he was true to his word and pitched up at 11am, grilling delicious sausages for our visitors, staff and guests. Mr M had THREE and they were huge!! Thank you James, especially for being so kind to our young guests x

Bobbys Bangers Manchester at Love Withington Baths Heritage Open DayA very special prize was not only hidden at the Baths yesterday but was photographed, printed and framed there all within an hour! I first got to know architectural photographer Andy Marshall on a shoot in a Grade 2 listed cottage I’d redesigned and we kept in touch. When the original Save Withington Baths campaign started early in 2013, we met there early one morning and he took some amazing images of the building and interior, shots which incredibly had never been captured before. They were vital in getting the message out there that a beautiful building was under threat. We’ve kept in touch and Andy offered to create a special 1of1 shot as part of his Tumblr project at the Baths yesterday. The lucky winner has a totally unique and never to be repeated piece of heritage art there, keep it safe Lucy, I’m very jealous! x
Andy Marshall's 1of1 heritage photography at Love Withington BathsLots of lemon drizzle, caramel & red velvet was consumed and Cat did a sterling job, ably assisted by young helper Josh and, ahem, more senior helper RipRap. Our local MP John Leech came down as did many other local councillors, all of whom surely MUST be able to see to benefits of keeping this incredible building very much part of and used by the community. Can you even IMAGINE it being flats, or worse a Tesco?!
2014-09-15_00062014-09-15_0003The heritage lovers on our tours loved the old cast iron turnstiles hidden in the depths of the building. I learned that the company who made them were called WTEllisons and their factory was in Salford between King and Queen Street. They’d made about 6000 of these ornate and very heavy turnstiles before the company changed hands and though many have now been melted down for scrap and lost forever, some still remain in use. We’d love to re-fit these fabulous pieces of architectural history in a new cafe at the Baths for example or even as a fun way of raising fund, £1 a go! I love that the old mechanism is still in place for counting people in, this is quite rare apparently. 87,769 people went through these turnstiles before ‘modernisation’. I think I prefer the old way, don’t you?

Original Edwardian cast iron turnstiles at Withington Swimming BathsAll in all a brilliant day. Thanks if you came along, and if not, see you at the next one!

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