Our Vision for the Victorian and Turkish Baths
Our Vision for the Public Baths complements the ambition of the Borderlands Growth Deal “to attract new people to our area and revitalise our towns and communities”.
Through the valued support of an Architectural Heritage Fund Viability Grant, support from the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and other generous supporters, we have developed a Vision for the BATHS that supports and enhances the regeneration projects already underway in the City, serves the needs of local residents and would boost the tourist and night time economies.
Read our Architectural Heritage Fund Viability Report
A new lease of life for the Baths
The pool spaces in the Victorian parts of the building will be reimagined into aqua thermal spaces, a therapy/fitness studio, hireable treatment rooms, a cafe and social enterprise launderette. All this will further increase capacity, though require more structural work, including creation of a new frontage with cafe and reception facing the new Station Gateway. In addition there will be access routes into and through the building, with two lifts proposed to counter the level changes and ensure the building is fully accessible.
Since commencing our AHF funded Viability Study, the Baths have closed with no council plans for their restoration or development. Previously a bathing and Turkish baths facility, our plan is to secure their future, capitalising on the adjacent Station Gateway Project which links the site to the cultural, health and wellbeing life of the city centre and region.
We now wish to take our project to the next stage. This envisages restoration of the Turkish Baths to remove cosmetic alterations and later additions, restoring the original footprint and increasing their capacity.
Around 30% of the BATHS is currently unused. Our project proposes to being these areas into use by adapting the Ladies waiting room and slipper baths to create treatment rooms, increasing capacity and opportunity for health and wellbeing provision.
A New Baths Entrance
Carlisle is the hub for the wider Borderlands Region and its over one million residents. The Carlisle Station Gateway Project will deliver a new station entrance facing what is currently the rear of the Victorian & Turkish Baths (VTB). Our Vision proposes to create a new, fully accessible main entrance and BATHS reception facing the station with a restaurant and retail unit, attracting new users to the Baths and magnifying the regeneration impact of the £20m investment, improving Carlisle Railway Station.
Restoring & extending the Turkish Baths
The Turkish Baths were built for a capacity of 14 users. To realise the full potential of the Turkish Baths and the available floor space across the rest of the building, that capacity must increase. We believe this would be best achieved through refocusing the 20m pool area, creating new changing spaces and a refreshed Spa facility adjacent to the Turkish Baths. In addition, the new main entrance would include a café bar and hireable treatment rooms would be created in the 1920 Ladies Waiting Room and Slipper Baths.
Siting the sauna and steam room in the new Spa area would further increase capacity in the Turkish Baths suite. Heritage funding will be sought to restore the terrazzo floor and original glazed bricks and tiling throughout the Turkish Baths, and remove the false ceiling over the 20m pool to reveal the roof skylight.
Our original view was to develop a new Hydro Health Centre within the current 10m pool area, however stage one of our viability study and lack of local partners at this stage means that we have to put that aspiration on hold for now. This space will therefore become a flexible studio space for wellbeing activities and classes.
We believe these changes will create an attractive and local facility as well as a unique visitor experience, with visitors able to step off their train and enter the Baths within minutes.
Community Hub & Laundry
Awareness of food poverty has grown hugely in recent years and many households have found it difficult to afford food during the COVID pandemic. However the issue of hygiene poverty is less known but very serious for families unable to afford a washing machine.
Figures from the Charity Turn To Us estimate that 1 in 7 households with incomes on or below £35,000 live without at least one home appliance and the English Indices of Deprivation place Carlisle 100th (out of 326). This suggests that many households in and around the City will be unable to afford essential home appliances – like a washing machine – forcing them to either wash clothes in their sink or use a launderette. Research by Turn to Us found that “living without a washing machine, and using a launderette instead, is over 2,500% more expensive”.
The hidden problem of hygiene poverty has prompted many communities to establish affordable community laundries, like Kitty’s Laundry in Liverpool. Our Vision is to create high-quality, affordable ecological laundry and dry cleaning services, as well as a space for people to gather, talk and learn as part of the BATHS. Operating as a charity or Community Interest Organisation the Community Hub and Laundry would serve a modern day need and celebrate the heritage and purpose of the Public Baths and Washhouses.
How Can You Support Our Campaign?
Our vision can only come true with the vision and help of the local community. Please help us save this unique and beautiful piece of Carlisle heritage before it’s too late.
As volunteers we rely on donations and fundraising to pay for our publicity, stationery and professional fees. Every pound you give takes us one step closer to achieving our Vision.
Please support us by making a donation today.
The people who will decide the future of Carlisle’s Historic Baths are the local politicians. The Friends are committed to working with Cumberland Council and local MPs but the people politicians listen to most are their constituents.
Please write to your MP and Councillors today and ask them to support our plans to reopen the plans
Over 6,000 people have already signed the petition in support of our Vision. But we need as much support as possible if we are to convince politicians and other key stakeholders to endorse and support our Vision.
Please sign and share our petition today.