Interest in historic Sheffield gem is booming

The Friends of Birley Spa say interest in the historic Sheffield gem has boomed over the past few months.

By Sarah Marshall
Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 2:10 pm

Fiona Milne, who has been part of the Friends of Birley Spa since it formed nearly three years ago, said the Grade II-listed Hackenthorpe site - which is the last remaining Victorian bath house still set in its original grounds in South Yorkshire - had attracted even more interest.

She said: “Since Christmas the whole thing of Birley Spa seems to have grown a life of its own. We haven’t been able to do much with everything going on and yet looking on the website, you can tell there has been more people looking at it, we are still getting people joining the group and getting involved and we had our Easter event which was brilliant and that was booked up within a couple of hours.

“It feels like there is a real shift coming. Everything we were saying about Birley Spa before the pandemic, people are now saying to us.

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Birley Spa. Photo taken by Molly Williams (LDR)

“It is quite a shock to think it is coming up to three years now but it does feel like there is a real change in the air, whether it will happen or not I don’t know.”

She said their Facebook group had around 200 members when they first started and now has more than 1,200.

They have a number of exciting developments on the horizon, working with various organisations in the city including Sheffield University and local schools and recently launched a project to create a Birley Spa archive.

They have also been able to get new banners to use for events and a noticeboard in front of the building which tells visitors about its history.

Councillors Alison Teal ,Brian Homlshaw and Joy Bullivant (Time walk project) gave a positive vibe today at a meeting with Friends of Birley Spa,Fiona Milne, Dawn Spier and Richard Teasdale. Birley Spa, Sheffield

Ms Milne said: “There is a saying I’ve heard a few times recently that people don’t care about things they don’t know about. That’s the one thing that the time this has all taken has been of benefit to us because we raised awareness of it and once people do know about it they love it. We have never had a person come to the spa and go ‘this is a bit rubbish’ everybody is like ‘wow, this is amazing. I can’t believe this is here, isn’t it wonderful’.

“The interest is out there, the community engagement has been brilliant. You could be down there now and people would go past and say ‘we really appreciate what you are doing, we can see the difference that it’s making’. We just need the council to get on board with it.”

The building itself is still in a poor state with much work needed to restore it back to its former glory.

The Friends are fighting for it to be restored and want to see it used for various things including a cafe and as a community space.

Sheffield Council is currently looking at the possibility of the top floor being used as housing and said it was undertaking a feasibility study for this, the results of which have not yet been shared.

Fiona also said there was a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to repair the pond, which sits just below the bath house, which they have helped prepare.