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Byrne Avenue Baths in Rock Ferry held a launch event last Friday to celebrate Phase 1 of the reopening plans. The event was attended by local residents, MPs, local councillors and people associated with the Byrne Avenue Trust.
Ben Harrison, Chair of the Byrne Avenue Trust, opened the event by saying, “This is a fantastic facility for the community. The journey over the 12 years was, ‘Let’s not let this building disappear!’ We didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives driving past Byrne Avenue looking at a block of flats.” And of that simple thought, the project to save Byrne Avenue Baths and bring it back into public use was born.
The Trust’s motivation is so that “thousands more kids can use this facility in the future”, Ben said. “Positivity always wins!”
On the broader aspect of members of the public taking control of community buildings, Ben said, “I say to anyone here, if you know of any places, wherever you are, have a go! We don’t want to lose good buildings … so step up to the plate.”
Natasha Bright, Communications Manager at Power to Change, said, “Power to Change was one of the major funders for the redevelopment of the sports hall. I think one of the great things about this particular project is that the community has always been involved, because this is where most local people seemed to have learned to swim!
“The local community has had a really great level of involvement and they really want it to be a valuable community resource. Power to Change is really proud to be part of their journey and to have provided funding, enabling the Trust to bring this part of the project to fruition.”
It has been a long project already and has a long way still to go. The opening of Phase 1 consists of the former laundry that is now a community room and the sports hall. In due course when funding is secured, the swimming pool will also reopen.
Mick Whitley, MP for Birkenhead said, “I’m absolutely delighted to be here today. It’s a walk back down memory lane because I used to visit here when I was a kid. The Trust are doing a fantastic job, this will be a great community hub for the people of Rock Ferry and the surrounding areas. I am really delighted!”
The next phase to open is the Slipper Bath Cafe which is funded by a recently completed crowdfunder. Jane Richards, Project Manager for the Byrne Avenue Baths Trust, said, “It was brilliant reaching the target. It can be quite stressful running a crowdfunder! Sports England match funded the money we raised. Hopefully, the cafe will be open before Christmas. Without the people who have donated we wouldn’t be able to do this, so thank you to everyone who helped.”
All images credit: www.fotopiaimages.com