PARTS of the iconic Byrne Avenue Baths could reopen later this year, say the trust renovating it.

Byrne Avenue Trust took over the historic building in Rock Ferry in 2017 and hope to re-open its sports hall later this year.

Project manager Jane Richards said the aim is for the venue to become 'a shining beacon of community' as it was for decades. She added that the building has a 'bright future', thanks to the success of some major grant applications.

The plan is to restore and reopen the building in stages.

Work on the entrance, main hall and ticket office started in January, thanks to a generous grant from the Garfield Weston Foundation.

The sports hall's refurbishment was made possible, thanks to a grant from Power to Change, an organisation set up to grow and support community businesses in England.

Applications are now being made for funding to create a cafe and community room.

Jane Richards told the Globe: "Despite its closure a decade ago, the baths remains a yardstick of all our childhoods, a building so filled with memories that you can still almost hear the laughter.

"As we approach the 10th anniversary of the surprise closure of the building, Byrne Avenue Trust is very pleased to announce that the building has a bright future thanks to the success of some major grant applications.

"Eighteen months ago, the small team of locals that run Byrne Avenue Trust were enormously happy to take over the lease of this beautiful building.

"As you can all imagine, it was in a pretty terrible state, full of debris, pigeons, and general detritus.

"The roof was in a shocking condition which was speeding up the decline. A decade of neglect meant that the two most important priorities were to make the building watertight and protect it from intruders.

"Having achieved both we can now start working on restoring the interior to its former glory.

"We are a tiny local charity but reactions to the restoration and generosity have been enormous - from a crowdfunder appeal (that smashed its targets) and local donations to amazing grants from national funders.

"We have also had contributions from local funders Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust and the P H Holt Foundation to help create a café and community room with more applications.

"We hope to re-open the sports hall later this year and when this glorious building can become a shining beacon of community as it was for decades.

"By the end of summer we hope to have the funding for a beautiful cafe - a gorgeous place to go for a hot chocolate which many of you have told us is your memory of Byrne Avenue that we aim to make a highlight again – as well as community spaces and meetings rooms for hire.

"State-of-the-art changing rooms and really super-modern toilets will add to the feeling of being somewhere special.

"Success to date is down to the hard work and dedication of local people, many of whom have given their time on a voluntary basis and is a testament to the enormous affection in which the building is held."