Regular readers will know all about Withington Baths and our local campaign to keep this beautiful Edwardian building in Manchester open after the council threatened closure in early 2013 to open a new facility on a dual carriage way some distance away. I’m totally against community facilities being taken out of communities and plonked somewhere more convenient / cheaper / easier for councils, plus I believe in investing in heritage buildings which people love and which enrich our increasingly sterile architectural world. After two years, much hard work and lots of support from literally hundreds of local residents who walk or cycle there, we takeover the running of the Baths in June!
And boy have we got our work cut out. Many years of neglect and poor maintenance have meant the roof and guttering are in a right old state, with water regularly pouring into the studios, corridors and down the pool side walls. We’ve a roofer there this week assessing the damage and crikey, if you think the roof at Moregeous Mansions was a cracker, wait ’til I show you the one at the Baths, it’s massive! Like the bill for repairs will be, compared to your average terrace.
The Manchester Evening News have been great, regularly featuring the campaign and this week an online gallery of some of the damaged heritage features which need restoring, the secret bits of the Baths we’ll be revealing and the unused sections ripe for innovative use. First a deep clean, then things like stripping magnolia layers off heritage tiles. Why would anyone in their right mind have painted over these? It defeats me when you see their naked tile splendour. Unfathomable.
Stained glass windows have been botched with cheap replacement panes and we’ve already linked with some stained glass experts for restoration. Below right you can see the large hidden area which was once earmarked for a third pool but the post war cutbacks in the 1920’s put paid to that idea. Nearly 100yrs on, what could we use that space for…. wait and see!
Banners have been going up to try and get the message out that we are STAYING OPEN and members can stick with us, they don’t have to be forced out of the building they love swimming and training in, in the heart of their community, with people they know and like. If you’re local and fancy joining, click HERE
I’m not a very good ‘blogger’ really am I? Don’t have a commercial focus, don’t stick to a ‘brand’ or fit in a category with a consistent message, but sometimes things take up your time which are more important than this months trends or what new season goodies some high street store is tempting it’s customers with. This has been really important to me and though, oh boy, it’s a time sucker-upper (eh Helen?), every minute has been worth it and will be worth it after June, with new investment, new attitudes and new ideas for this old favourite.
Right now though? We’re all absolutely terrified, wouldn’t you be, after all, have you even run a swimming baths?! 😉