TRUSTEES of a disused Turkish Baths in Manchester have travelled to Newcastle to meet the team behind the resurrection of the City Pool and Turkish Baths.
Fusion Lifestyle will begin work on a £5m redevelopment in early 2017 after drawing up impressive plans to breathe new life into the building and gaining planning permission earlier this year.
The group from Manchester’s Victoria Baths also met Michelle Hirschhorn-Smith of the Re-open Newcastle Turkish Baths & City Pool group, which was instrumental in pushing for the City Pool to be reopened.
Newcastle City Pool and Turkish Baths were closed in 2013 due to budget pressures, a situation mirrored at historic pools across the country in towns such as Manchester, Reading, Bath and Birmingham.
But a community campaign by Re-open Newcastle Turkish Baths & City Pool drew attention to the building and Fusion Lifestyle saw the opportunity to add the building to its impressive UK portfolio.
The Victoria Baths in Manchester have been closed for swimming since 1993, but trustees have been given new hope by the £5m refurbishment in Newcastle. Now they too have turned to Fusion Lifestyle for help with the restoration.
Michelle Hirschhorn-Smith, of Re-open Newcastle Turkish Baths & City Pool, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with the Victoria Baths group from Manchester and Fusion Lifestyle.
“It’s been inspiring to meet with other people who share our passion for public pools and historic buildings, and we’re especially glad the Victoria Baths team have come to visit Newcastle as these are two very rare buildings which still house Turkish Baths.”
Gill Wright, project development manager at Victoria Baths Trust, also heads up the Historic Pools of Britain group, which was set up in 2015 to protect and preserve England’s public baths.
Gill said: “We heard the all-too-common story of Newcastle’s baths closing, so we were delighted to hear that Fusion is working with the community campaign to save the building for public use.
“Newcastle really is a flagship for us of how historic pools can be made fit for today and Fusion is to be congratulated on taking a leading role in this field.
“There is huge interest in buildings like these that provide a very different leisure experience to modern pools. We are looking forward to following the regeneration and re-opening of City Pool and I’m sure we can learn a lot from each other.”
Fusion Lifestyle is a charity which ploughs all profits from its operations back into the business to provide affordable health and fitness facilities for all.
The redevelopment will bring the pool and Turkish Baths back into operation, as well as seeing the introduction of a new spa, treatment rooms, fitness suite, exercise studios and restaurant/café.
Anthony Cawley, director of operations for Fusion Lifestyle, said: “It’s great to be able to meet with and give advice to the team from the Victoria Baths Trust.
“It’s obviously been hard for councils to maintain historic leisure facilities, and we hope that this arrangement can be used as a blueprint for other pools across the UK.”