Barking Bathhouse opens

�Residents sipped cocktails under a canopy of cucumbers, enjoyed relaxing massages and soaked up the heat in the sauna as an innovative temporary spa and bar opened in Barking.

The Barking Bathhouse, a 6,000 square foot, custom-built prefab in Axe Street, took its first customers last Friday and will be offering residents the chance to indulge in a host of spa treatments, massages, a sauna and a cold room for the next six and a half weeks.

It has its own bar serving reasonably priced healthy cocktails made from locally- grown produce as well as smoothies, beer and wine and will be hosting a number of arts and music events over the summer.

The project, which is inspired by both 20th century working men’s clubs and ultra-modern spas, was commissioned by London arts project CREATE and designed by Something and Son.

It forms part of the London 2012 Festival, which celebrates the Olympics through thousands of events across the UK.

‘Experts’

Speaking last week, one half of Something and Son, Andy Merrit, said they had never designed a spa before but enjoyed the challenge.

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“We love experimenting,” he explained. “Previously we started up a farm in Dalston despite not knowing anything about farms, but by the end we were experts on growing stuff.

“The same has happened with the Bathhouse – it’s been a real learning process and now we have a pretty good idea of what makes a good spa. We hope people will like it.”

Andy said the Bathhouse will not only offer Barking and Dagenham residents and those from further afield a chance to relax in an exciting new environment, but will also provide local people a range of work opportunities.

“Virtually everyone employed here, including all the spa staff, are from this area.

“They rent the rooms at local prices and get the chance to show off their skills and pick up new customers. Hopefully when the spa closes they will have a larger customer base and their profiles will have been boosted.”

Entry to the public areas is free. Use of the spa, including the sauna and cold room, is �2 for Barking and Dagenham residents. Treatment prices vary. For more information go to barkingbathhouse.com.

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