Our Edwardian Baths – A Scary Amount of Halloween DIY!

Regular readers will know all about our Baths and the hard work put in by Team LWB over the last (wow is it really?!) nearly three years. None of us really knew what would happen when we took over the running of this magnificent but rather dilapidated and poorly cared for building in June this year. Though we’d every confidence that the team we’d employed to actually run the Edwardian pool and newly installed gym would be fantastic, starting from scratch with no members and having full responsibility for such a massive building was a big ask. Even with such a multi-skilled volunteer team (and all of us work full time on *real* jobs), I think if we’d stopped, sat down and really thought about what we were doing, it might have all seemed a hell of a lot more scary, but we were heading forward at full pelt, intent on ignoring the naysayers.

I’m telling you, the building is HUGE! I was watching the brilliant Restoring Britain’s Landmarks last night and found myself longing for the resources at their disposal. This is the front of our building, not so bad you might think, that’s doable. I’ve ordered new LED lighting which is being fitted tomorrow to illuminate the front elevation at night when all the internal lights are off. Most of the windows are beautiful stained glass but many are damaged – those are on a whole other heritage restoration list, not for this weekend!WB6

Now look at this and you get an idea of the scale of what we’ve taken on. This is a still from the BIM survey done which shows that front elevation along the bottom. Stretches back a bit, huh? And all of it needs work. Literally, all of it.


I organised a big volunteer week in June to transform the gym, but it’s only really been since taking over that we’ve got to know the building properly, prior to that it was managed by the council so we’d limited access. Tomorrow and Saturday we’ve another big DIY push to fix, improve and beautify other areas and the list is VERY long. Gotta admit to being a bit overwhelmed last night when I typed it up and read through it.

So, what’s on this weekend? Well, there’s all the external lighting, fixing more wi-fi, new hairdryers and sockets, and add to that re-painting all the changing areas, mens and ladies loos, and family change. Then transforming the dark unloved corridor by the gym into a vibrant space for noticeboards and newsletters which is currently a mucky blue, cream and maple mix. Not not very inspiring is it?!2015-10-29_0002

I had our dandelion infested lawns treated this week so hopefully they’ll be weed-free next Spring. One of our volunteers arranged 100s of daffodil and hyacinth bulbs through a community scheme so I’m hoping to get some green fingered volunteers to pop some in the ground this weekend. Please stay away rain!

After the last two weeks focusing on getting the extensive Edwardian drainage unblocked and tree root free, I’m beyond relieved to be heading into winter knowing that every time it rains, our subways around the pool tanks won’t suddenly be under a foot of water, which was horrible and stressful. At least the newly created mud baths around the manholes are easy to plant with daffodil bulbs….every cloud eh?


New mirrors and branding for the gym is on order, I’ve to nip to Ikea for shelving to get the office and reception ship-shape, charcoal flooring for the corridor is booked for 3pm Saturday. I’ve never laid Flexi-Tuff gym flooring but there’s some of that to be done, plus shower caddies and hooks to give members a better showering experience.

Oh, and did I forget? Only a whole massive room to restore and transform, check this out. 110msq ripe for restoration and ready to turn into a gorgeous holistic space for yoga, pilates and events. See where the ceiling tiles are open? Just imagine that whole ceiling down and the two huge, light filled, glass roof lengths revealed again. Obviously this won’t all happen this weekend but we’ll be making a start on clearing this room and getting the floor prepped for insulation, screeding and underfloor heating to allow that awful, ugly false ceiling to be removed.

Team LWB want this be done by 20th Nov.

Where’s that Red Bull…….


Wish us luck 🙂 If you’re around Manchester and fancy mucking in, come on down, we want another team photo just like this one xVolunteers at Withington Baths


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