One of Tameside's most iconic buildings celebrated its 150th anniversary with a special socially-distanced event held at the premises, which was attended by staff, business owners, contractors and other local individuals.
Ashton Old Baths opened in 1870 and originally provided residents with somewhere to wash and swim, alongside other entertainment like horse shows and ice skating.
After Tameside Council took control of the building and secured over £2m of Heritage Lottery funding to revive the historic venue, it was reopened in 2017 after being transformed into a digital and creative hub. The modern office space is the location for local businesses and a hub for the digital and tech sector. It is also linked to the borough's innovative and co-operatively-owned dark fibre network.
Ashton Old Baths is still open for business and private office space is available, while a full COVID-19 risk assessment has been put in place along with a test and trace system.
To protect residents, meetings and events are currently on hold to keep external visitors to a minimum.
With the initial office space being such a success, the council has invested to expand the space available in the hub. Work is still ongoing with phase 2 of the building due to be completed in spring next year. This will extend through the currently-unused former women's pool space, and provide additional offices and meeting space as well as a state-of-the-art data centre and a café. This investment places Ashton Old Baths at the centre of the borough's investment in digital infrastructure.
Lots of local people are still interested in the building's history and guided tours were regularly held before lockdown.
Cllr Oliver Ryan, Tameside Council Executive Member for Finance and Economic Growth, said: "Ashton Old Baths is one of Tameside's most iconic buildings which is steeped in local history and I'm proud it's still one of the focal points of our borough. Some of our residents have a special affinity with the venue as this is where they learnt to swim, while those based in the building now will still see so much of the original structure still present.
"This is a venue which delivers considerable growth to the borough and it's fantastic we've seen such demand for office space that there's already need to expand the number of premises available."