What to do about my shower walls?

Newbie George

New Member
What started as the simple job of replacing the silicone around the shower tray has morphed into a bit of a project, and I'm a bit stumped about what the best thing to do is.
The house was built in the early 1950s, it's brick, the shower walls are internal walls, the one pictured has the landing and a radiator on the other side, the other wall has the chimney and a cupboard on the other side. I'm in the north of Cumbria (UK), coal mining wasn't really a thing here after about 1925.
The wall has a thin layer of hard white plaster that falls off in fairly big chunks when I prod it. The sandy stuff behind is flaky and cracked in a couple of places, and has sort of dissolved at the bottom (last pic), where it also smelled of mould.
I'm trying to avoid removing the shower tray and surround if I can, partly because I can't work out how to, partly because I can't really afford to replace them, partly because I really don't want to make this an even bigger job. No idea what state the other walls are in because they're hidden behind plastic wood-effect paneling, and I'm not planning on looking.

What I think I need to do is get rid of anything loose, make the walls level, apply some sort of waterproofing, and then tile. Does that sound right? If so, please would you point me in the direction of things I need to learn (like what the sandy layer is), and the best methods for doing it (like which is the best way to waterproof it), and anything else I should learn about?

I'll do my best to answer anything else you need to know. I read lots of posts and included anything I thought might be relevant, but I may have missed things.


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