Most families didn’t have kitchens, showers, baths or even hot water. That’s why in 1888, The Ormeau Baths were built to provide 36 public baths and two swimming pools (or ‘swimming ponds’ as they were called) for the surrounding community.
Designed by Robert Watt, Ormeau Baths features the classic red-brick style that Belfast is known for all over the world and has gone on to become a heritage-listed building.
For over 100 years, the Victorian Bath House provided a neutral space where school kids, families and workers could come together to play, swim — and of course, freshen up.
But with structural cracks in the swimming pool and the modernisation of nearby homes, The Ormeau Baths began to fall out of use, leaving its future uncertain.
As a result, the building was closed and sold in 1990.
After much deliberation over how to use such an iconic space, it was converted into an art gallery in 1995 that went on to receive worldwide acclaim for their exhibitions showcasing local and international artists like Yoko Ono, Gilbert & George and Victor Sloan.
Almost 16 years later, the building once again went on the market.
With many other historic buildings in Belfast at the time being torn down or taken over by multi-national chains, there were concerns that The Ormeau Baths would fall out of the hands of the community.
Thankfully in 2017, a deal was struck between a group of entrepreneurs and key members of the NI diaspora to transform the building into a coworking space that would go on to become the heartbeat of indigenous tech start-ups in Northern Ireland.
With over 200 members from almost every industry imaginable, we’re proud that 130+ years since the building went up, Ormeau Baths is still a place where people can come together and where community thrives.
To find out more about how our building is used and who’s involved check out our spaces/people pages — or come see us for yourself.