TAMESIDE’S new digital era is here. On April 12, Tameside Council officially handed over the keys for Ashton Old Baths to appointed operator, Oxford Innovation. They have already been hard at work, securing 50 per cent of the available space at the digital hub with companies from the design, events, media and technology sectors.
John McIlroy and Nick Hilditch of events concern zestme are one of those businesses and are hugely excited about moving into the Victorian former swimming pool. In a joint statement they said: “As a creative events management company we didn’t just want any office to grow our business - we wanted an innovative, truly iconic space with a creative community to work in.
“When we discovered Ashton Old Baths we were instantly excited about the prospect of being here alongside so many other creative businesses. It’s a place where we see our ideas flourishing and, coupled with the access to expert business support, we envisage good things will happen.
“We are currently based at home so we’re really excited about moving in, bringing our clients here, and getting to know the other customers in this beautiful historic building.”
Ashton Old Baths, which is in Henry Square on Stamford Street West, was built in 1870 in the Italianate style. It functioned as a pool until 1975 and then 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 entire centre is connected to dark fibre wi-fi which provides the fastest broadband speeds available in the UK.
Cllr Jim Fitzpatrick, Tameside Council’s first deputy who chaired the project board to renovate the building, said: “It’s wonderful to witness the culmination of this innovative project and I look forward to welcoming John and Nick from zestme to the borough in the coming months.
“I’m very proud of the way Tameside Council has worked with its partners to rescue and regenerate Ashton Old Baths. This landmark building from the past is now the gateway to an exciting future.”
Jo Willett, director for Oxford Innovation, the company finding firms for the high-tech business incubator, added: “We are delighted to have been appointed to manage Ashton Old Baths and to have this opportunity to assist local businesses to succeed.
“To grow an innovative company, you need a certain kind of space and support, and we believe that if you’re a budding start-up or SME (small/medium-size enterprise) in the creative and digital arena then this truly diverse and modern space would be an ideal home for your business.
“It has been a fantastic project from inception through to delivery, and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with Tameside Council to bring their vision to life. We look forward to the centre becoming a flagship for enterprise and business growth in the area.