Chester City Baths
The historic Chester City Baths officially reopened in January 2016 following an extensive revamp valued at almost £3 million. The Baths had previously been closed for two-years for the essential works to be carried out.
The work – that focused in particular on the glass roofs above the Pacific and Atlantic pools – has now been nominated for a RICS Award (North West) in the ‘Building Conservation’ category. The design of the renovation on the Grade II listed structure was carried out by Cunliffes Ltd with Harry Fairclough Construction Ltd acting as Main Contractor.
Jonathan Vine, Cunliffes Chartered Building Surveyor and Lead Designer for the project, spoke to Premier Construction about the extensive work:
“The initial brief was to carry out a medium-sized refurbishment of the baths. It had become quite dilapidated but was still popular and in daily use. Interventions that had previously been carried out were preventing the building from ventilating properly and this was causing a build-up of humid air within the pool halls. This had then affected various parts of the structure, most critically roofs and ceilings.
“The first step we took was to decide upon the best way to ventilate the pools. We put a few options together but eventually decided that the Victorian intention of natural ventilation via rooftop lanterns was best. This was the most affordable and most appropriate for the building given its listed status.”
Before work began, the building was still in a poor state with a number of issues apparent. Steels supporting the roof were badly corroded while the roof itself was in a bad way with dropped slates. Green algae on the walls and woodworm were also causing problems. Jonathan continued:
“We replaced both roofs to the two pool halls. We had to replace the whole structures exposing the rafters, and then building it back up again whilst keeping the external finish like for like.
“We then replaced all the ceilings in the pool halls making sure they stood up to the challenging environment of the swimming pool. There were various structural repairs to timbers and steels including new pieces of steel where the rot was so severe it had to be replaced rather than repaired. In the end around 60% of the timber rafters were replaced.
“There was also the replacement of the two, full roof length lanterns with the addition of some natural ventilation. The interior was fully redecorated including new LED flood lighting to show it off.”
Warrington-based Twinfix was responsible for the design and manufacture of the roof lights. Polycarbonate glazing specialists, Twinfix used Georgian wired polycarbonate to create the desired look with added robustness and durability.
Twinfix Director Vicky Evans commented:
“Chester City Baths is a local and iconic building so we really wanted to be involved with this project. Our innovative Georgian wired polycarbonate was also the perfect fit for the requirements of the project and showcased all of its benefits perfectly.”
Despite the project evolving beyond what had initially been expected, the commitment to see it through fully completed to the end was a testament to all those involved. Chester City Baths holds a special place in the hearts of many residents so the pressure was on but feedback since the reopening has been very positive.
The RICS Award nomination is a fitting end to the work with Jonathan concluding:
“I am proud the project has been recognised, both for myself and the practice. There has been a lot of interesting projects in the North West so it’s great to have been picked out. Everyone involved in the project at all levels played a big part seeing it through to the end. The nomination is a nice way to finish the project.”