Neglected bath house to be brought back to life

Members of the community gathered together to experience a lost tradition and see Birley Spa Bath House for the first time in 10 years in aid of saving it.

Friends of Birley Spa Community Group set up their first pop-up event from 10am until noon in the grounds of Birley Spa, with a cafe, crafts zone and maypole dancing on 6 May.

Birley Spa was auctioned to the public after it had been abandoned for over 10 years. The spa is part of the Shirebrook Valley Nature Reserve and local residents created the group as a charitable foundation to bring the Victorian bath house to life and open to the public for heritage tours.

Heritage promoter, Joy Bullivant, 65, said: “There’s not another one like it, not in South Yorkshire, it’s unique.”

Local resident, Carl Foster, 48 said: “It’s a forgotten gem which has suffered a lot of vandalism being back of house and isolated. What Friends of Birley Spa are doing is fantastic but we’re in a sad situation, we’re hoping for funding off the council.”

The aim of the function was to show the public how special the bath house is and prove to Sheffield City Council they could plan, host events and fundraise.

Over 70 people came to support and see the bath house after it had been disused and vandalised. Children from as young as two years old, took part in the event by participating in traditional maypole dancing.

A member of the community, Cheryl Shepard, 44 said: “This is the first time I’ve seen it. Kids spend too much time on devices and don’t get out much these days, whereas this is on our doorstep. It’s a great opportunity for them to turn it into something useful for all ages.”

Claire Williams, 43, organiser of the event said: “We’ve definitely made a dent in the community.”

MP Clive Betts managed to withdraw Birley Spa from the auction in September 2018 and got heritage lottery funding for it although it may not be enough.

Fiona Milne, 55, aquarium technician explained there was only a problem of E. coli however it is a matter that can be dealt with.

They are currently awaiting confirmation from Sheffield City Council for the ‘go-ahead’. Additional funding from the council is needed to get the place fully renovated before they can move on with its future plans.

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