Transformed Ashton Old Baths celebrates first year of digital jobs success

Date Released - 25/06/2018

Tameside’s pioneering digital hub has celebrated a successful first year of creating jobs and growth.

Ashton Old Baths was transformed from a derelict Victorian swimming pool into a vibrant business centre, designed to foster a digital community of innovators in Tameside.

Creative companies have been eager to be involved in the centre’s community, with office space 100 per cent full for several months and 70 jobs created in the centre.

They range from digital marketers to an engineering design company, a television production company and a Proptech start up.

The centre is now pushing even further by developing an Annex, which will include a data centre and space for 75 more people to work.

The success was celebrated at a one-year anniversary event yesterday (Thursday, June 21) when stakeholders and guests enjoyed a tour and heard about the restoration and its future.

Ashton Old Baths, in Henry Square on Stamford Street West, was built in 1870 and functioned as a pool until 1975. It lay derelict until 2013 when Tameside Council and Place First secured funding from the European Regional Development Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund to restore and renovate the building.

The restoration was shortlisted for the prestigious Historic England Angel Awards in the category of ‘Best Rescue of a Heritage Site’, the Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Building of the Year.

It’s also named as a key asset for the city region in the Greater Manchester Digital Strategy.

Ashton Old Baths is run by specialist business incubation experts Oxford Innovation in partnership with the property’s owners Tameside Council.

It’s just part of a range of initiatives that Tameside Council is undertaking to grow and attract businesses in the digital, creative and tech sectors, increase jobs available in the sector and provide careers advice and opportunities for young people to get the skills they need.

This includes Tameside Digital Infrastructure Co-operative’s dark fibre network, which the entire centre is connected to, providing the fastest broadband speeds available in the UK. The network passes within 200metres of 50 per cent of the borough’s housing and more than 40 per cent of its employment space, offering access to digital connectivity unrivalled across the country.

Ongoing work with young people includes Tameside Hackathon, Code Clubs in primary schools and a monthly Coder Dojo event.

Tameside Council Executive Leader Councillor Brenda Warrington said: “It’s been a tremendous first year for Ashton Old Baths. It’s wonderful to see how this magnificent building has been brought back to life and is now proving a great success in growing innovative digital companies to become a flagship for enterprise and business growth in the area.

“This is just part of our strategy to give young people the skills they need to thrive and bring jobs and growth to Tameside.”

Jo Willett, managing director of Oxford Innovation, said: “We’re delighted with the success achieved in the first year at Ashton Old Baths and look forward to helping many more start-up businesses in the creative and digital arena grow and thrive.

“It has been a fantastic project from inception through to delivery and an absolute pleasure to work with Tameside Council to bring their vision to life.”

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