Victorian public baths win £5m lottery funding
A major new project to revitalise the last surviving Victorian public baths in Ireland has won almost £5 million lottery funding.
Templemore Baths was the last in a series of public baths to open throughout Belfast in the late 19th century.
It provided washing facilities for families who came to work at the Harland and Wolff shipyard and other engineering plants in the east of the city.
A Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) statement said: "Today's announcement will allow Belfast City Council to fully develop its ambitious plans to restore, extend and fully reopen Templemore Baths in east Belfast for use as a leisure and fitness facility."
Development funding of £380,000 was awarded to help work up firm proposals for the overall project which is likely to cost £16.8 million.
The baths are one of the few remaining links to a way of life now disappeared and to a time when inner-east Belfast was a thriving industrial community.
They are held in high regard by the local community and have been the subject of campaigns to prevent their closure.
Although part of the complex remains in use today, around half the building is vacant and in various stages of disrepair.
Many of the building's original features such as the twin entrances, which reflect first and second class admissions, the minor pool and the slipper baths remain largely intact although they have mostly been long abandoned.
The new project will restore the original features of the building and make it commercially sustainable by providing the local community with a new 25 metre pool and state-of-the-art gym, the HLF said.
The baths' historic features will be interpreted, and the social heritage connected to the site will be explored and used to tell the story of this building.