Update: The Bathhouse Project

DSC03346Everyone loves a good project right, but how would you feel about about a super sized room in super high temperatures on a super tight time scale! Let me tell you none of those things are putting us or the heritage Withington Baths’ staff off, oh no. They/re made of tough Northern stuff here.

Let’s take a look at how the Bathhouse Project coming along 🙂

Remember a few weeks back, we were crowd source funding to raise money to begin a renovation and restoration of our original female Bathhouse? Well, we raised lots of pennies thanks to some astonishingly kind supporters and now it’s full steam ahead.

As you can see, it certainly wasn’t awe inspiring a few weeks ago, and though the room has served us well for our first year’s trading, manager Dennis was desperate for a space upgrade. The cheap blue flooring and hideous 1980’s lowered ceiling did it no favours, but boy, did the room have potential.DSC02977DSC03127 Outlined beneath layers of paint, the original tiles could just about be seen and when ceiling tiles were prodded, once 30yrs of dust was rubbed from upturned eyes, there above were two amazingly long & high roof lanterns crying out to be revealed.

It was deliberated whether to leave the ceiling up until some point in the future…… but honestly, how could we not take it down??!! We decided, even though we didn’t raise quite as much money as planned, that we could still carry out the full project as we knew we’d some great volunteers and willing staff, plus had secured the assistance of some wonderful heritage loving companies with products. I was delighted by this decision, though the extra work is considerable.

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As the false ceiling was removed, the room pretty much transformed itself – amazing!!

Even the local bobbies got involved. What a cracking looking gang we’ve got, especially you Roger, in those shorts 😉

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So that was the ceiling gone and the floor up, what next?IMG_6653

Heating of course! Far too long a freezing cold space in winter, despite the best 1980’s efforts of lowering the ceiling, the room really needed to be brought into 2016 and future proofed. The old radiator system was dire (they were actually on backwards, would you believe) but now the low ceiling was gone, any such convected radiator heat would simply rise up the walls and disappear through the single paned glazed roofs. Replacing the whole roof with double glazing and insulated panels is a long term goal, but for now we needed bodies on the ground to be warm, especially those teeny bodies at baby massage who’d struggled with chilly temperatures last year.12525601_946104342148897_4869944480393311031_o Good job we’d already had quotes for some modern underfloor heating to give an ambient, consistent low level heat at ground level. A fantastic, local company called the Cadman  Group, (who work country-wide if you need a fast, effective, reliable underfloor heating and screeding company) literally held our hands through the process and delivered us a fully insulated, piped and screeded room in 48hrs! Excellent work and highly recommended by Team LWB.

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Can you see the blue box on the floor near the central red pillar? That was one of the oddest things I’ve ever asked Mr M to make me: a small plywood box to protect a section of floor from being screeded over, below.

IMG_6648In different areas around the room, damaged sections of the original terrazzo floor could be seen and it was suddenly possible to imagine not only the positions of the original slipper baths from the cubicle marks on the walls, but also what the full floor would have looked like 100yrs ago. I thought it’d be cool to create a little posterity peep hole, then protect it with toughened glass, so heritage lovers can always see what was once there.

Once the screeded floor had thoroughly set (48hrs), the plumber hadn’t even had time to get the rads off before the staff had got stuck in scraping the awful paint from the original tiles. Layers of portaflek, that spotty cream layer you can see to the upper levels, had been slapped everywhere over the years and not just one layer either. Lots of the damn things and boy is that paint hard as nails. That was why councils used Portaflek, because it didn’t just chip or peel off but getting it off? Almost impossible!

DSC03343It’s a huge room with high walls and using long handles industrial scrapers is not easy work at all. It’s not only a boring but a pretty muscle-busting job to be doing, plus even more tiring when you consider our staff are actually still running the building at the same time. All credit to them, I think they’ve been amazing.DSC03341IMG_7118 There are some particularly awkward sections and for this we’ve called in the PeelAway paint stripping big guns in the form of several 10kg tubs.  I love this stuff and will show you how we’ve used it in another post, it’s quite marvellous and is also being utilised here at Moregeous Mansions on our paint laden decorative cornice.

Watch this space for more Bathhouse restoration steps x

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