Birley Spa Grounds Conservation Project
The project, which is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund will improve physical access, restore paths, repair stone walls/ copings and manage woodlands. Provide opportunities to learn about the site either on-line, through interpretation or new walk leaflets. Provide a programme of outdoor activities and events to raise awareness.
During the mid 1800s a committee was created consisting of Thomas Staniforth from the Thomas Staniforth & Co Sickle works, Edward Hobson, George Cox of Beighton and John Tillotson, schoolmaster of Beighton. A man named George Eadon was selected from eleven applicants who applied for the post of manager of the 'Bath Hotel', and was paid a salary of twenty pounds and was provided free rent and coal. Subsequently, it was used for many years as private dwellings. In 1973 it was given Grade II listed building status.
By 1895 the baths were failing to make a profit and only a single plunge bath remained in use, it appears the hotel itself was closed around 1878 and it is believed that the Earl Manvers removed the marble from the building himself for personal use.
Around 1895 John Platts was the proprietor of the property, he was a well-known gardener and a farmer.
By the time of the 1920s and 30s, the grounds of the bath house were transformed into a Pleasure Ground for children. Mr Moulson and William Smith were the proprietors at this time. The grounds featured a wishing well, a sand pit, swing boats, a paddling pool and the large lake behind the house was used for boating and fishing. There was also a 'wonder tree' in the wooded area beside the house, which was a large oak tree said to be over 1,000 years old. When the Second World War began in 1939, the grounds were closed.
The grounds were transferred to Sheffield Corporation in the 1950s, and in the early 2000s it became part of the Shire Brook Valley Local Nature Reserve.
The building was restored in 2000/2002 and for a time was open for tours by the public, but this has recently ceased.
In June 2018 renewed interest was brought to Birley Spa and a Friends of Birley Spa group was formed who work alongside Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust and Park Rangers, to restore the grounds and who are looking to the long term future of the building and grounds as a community asset.
What the project will do and what are the benefits?
The aims are:
To conserve the importance of the Spa building and grounds which are at risk
To conserve/restore the grounds by working with the community to achieve this.
Promote access for all whether this is for health reasons, educational or recreational.
To record and rediscover the Spa, its meaning and its connection with the industrial past and its former owners the Manvers family from Thoresby Hall in north Nottinghamshire.
To enable local communities to understand why the building was constructed, if there was earlier evidence pre 1843, do any earlier images etc , what the locations means to residents and the community, and how to conserve what is evident today.
To enable local communities and a wider audience to learn about the heritage of their locality and promote it to the local community using suitable means that works best.
To enable school children to learn about the history of the site from community members and those who influenced the landscape around the site.
To create a public archive of the information.
To train volunteers to conduct local history research.
To promote Lottery, HLF and the church partnership through exhibitions, website and activities so others can learn from the experiences.
Lottery cash will restore Birley Spa grounds to former glory
A £95,000 £97,170 restoration project is set to see the grounds of Sheffield’s historic Birley Spa Bath house restored to their former glory.
Friends of Birley Spa Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust were successful in their bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund which will also include the research and celebration of the importance of the Victorian bathhouse that was originally built for Charles Herbert Pierrepont, 2nd Earl Manvers and the Lord of the Manor of Beighton in 1842.
The three year project aims to open up access to the grounds to a whole new generation of visitors and will train up scores of volunteers to become local history researchers.
The Friends of Birley Spa Group was originally formed in 2018 with the aim of working alongside Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust and Sheffield Park’s Rangers, to look at ways to restore the grounds for community use. and secure the long term future of the building as a community asset.
Birley Spa Bath House and Grounds – which was originally a hotel with spa bath underneath – has had mixed fortunes over the years. By 1895 the baths were failing to make a profit and only a single plunge bath remained in use. The hotel itself was closed around 1878 and it is believed Earl Manvers removed the marble from the building himself for personal use. In the 1920s and ‘30s the grounds were opened up to children and included a wishing well, sand pit, swing boats, a paddling pool and the large lake behind the house was used for boating and fishing. When the Second World War began in 1939, the grounds were closed. The bath house, on the other hand, became a private dwelling for many years and received Grade II listed status in 1973. A restoration project in early 2000s saw a major overhaul of the bath house itself.
Dianne Leek, chair of Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust, said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players. The grounds of Birley Spa have been a fantastic resource for the community in decades gone by and this money means they can be restored to their former glory and become an amazing asset once again. This far reaching project also allows us to explore the fascinating history of the area and allow members of the public and local scores of schools to become a part of it.”