Wirral Grade II-listed building saved

After an intervention by English Heritage, historic public baths in Birkenhead will be given special protection status.

This is a major victory for campaigners in the district of Rock Ferry, who have fought to save the swimming facility in Byrne Avenue. The Byrne Avenue Community Trust (BACT) is the organisation that applied to have the building listed.

Ben Harrison from BACT said of English Heritage’s decision:

“The trustees are delighted with the decision and it’s right that a building with a heritage and history should be kept alive for future generations in Rock Ferry and Birkenhead.”

The baths closed in 2009, however, a campaign soon followed to have them re-opened. In 2010, the council agreed to lease the building to BACT, but only if the group could raise £350,000 to match the funds the council had put aside for repairs.

With the help of a generous local benefactor, the funds were raised, but at a further meeting, the council said the amount needed to repair the building was between £2m and £3m. This meant that technically BACT had not raised enough funds, so the organisation’s request to lease the baths was refused.

Having the structure listed takes away the possibility that the council will have the building demolished, which would have cost just £160,000. However, the future of the baths is still unclear.

BACT are hoping to begin talks with the council soon, while the local community and Wirral based architects are watching the situation with interest. Currently, the building is in a poor state and contains asbestos, so the cost of any restoration work is likely to be high.

Posted by Matt Hughes
December 24, 2014

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