View Full Version : Archived: Victoria Baths. Manchester. Sunday Oct 3rd 2010. Open Day.

06-10-2010, 07:16 PM
A brief history.

The Victoria Baths was designed as a prestigious baths complex by Manchester's first City Architect, Henry Price back in 1902.
Opened in 1906 by the then Lord Mayor J. Herbert Thewlis who described it as a water palace of which every citizen of Manchester should be proud of.

It was built at a cost of £59,000, no expense was spared. Its facade was constructed in red brick and terracotta and its interior spaces clad in glazed tiles from floor to ceiling. Most of the windows had decorative stained glass including the famous Angel of Purity.

For 86 years the Victoria Baths provided both essential and leisure facilities. At the time of opening, few of the houses in the area had bathrooms so its 64 slipper baths or 'wash baths' were an important amenity.

There were also three Olympic-sized swimming pools originally designated for separate use by 1st class Males, 2nd class Males and Females only.

Mixed bathing was introduced with great caution in 1914 and by the 1920s mixed bathing sessions were held every Sunday morning enabling families to swim together for the first time.

The 1st Class Pool - or Gala Pool - was designed so that it could be floored over during the winter months and used as a venue for dances, concerts and lectures.

Victoria Baths also boasted a suite of rooms known as the Turkish Baths comprising three hot rooms with levels of rising heat – the Tepidarium, the Calidarium and Laconicum. There was also a wet steam room known as a Russian Bath and a Rest Room or Cooling Room used to acclimatise yourself after using the Turkish Baths.

The famous swimmer Sunny Lowry, born in Jan 1911, learnt to swim at Victoria Baths and went on to swim the English Channel (on her third attempt) in 1933. She then dedicated her life to swimming, becoming a swimming and life-saving teacher. She was fit and healthy well into her 90’s and actively supported the Victoria Baths campaign until her death in February 2008.

In 1952 the Victoria Baths installed the first public Aeratone in the country - a precursor of the whirlpool bath.

But in 1993, Manchester City Council decided to close the Baths as the high cost of maintenance and remedial repairs could not be justified. The decision prompted huge protests including an effort to occupy the building. Despite this, the Baths were closed on 13th March.

The Victoria Baths Trust was formed in 1993 and began to investigate the possibility of running the Victoria Baths independently, supported by The Friends of Victoria Baths. The Trust was registered as a charity and in 2001, was granted a licence to use the Baths.

In September 2003, Victoria Baths won the BBC’s landmark series Restoration with a massive 282,018 votes from the public.
As a result of the win, the Heritage Lottery Fund earmarked £3 million and the BBC’s Restoration Fund raised nearly £500,000 for the restoration of the Turkish Baths at Victoria Baths. English Heritage has also supported the project with a grant of £450,000.

There have been over 50,000 visitors to Victoria Baths since 2003. Most visitors have a guided tour which explains the history of Victoria Baths, its use over the years and the campaign to save the building.

The Baths have also been used as a film location for programmes including Prime Suspect 5, Sherlock Holmes, Now Voyager, City Central, Funland and Life on Mars.

The first phase of Restoration work at Victoria Baths which began on March 2007 was completed on 17 September 2008.
Initial works included opening up and investigating the roof structure in the Turkish Baths, propping up the floor beneath the mosaics in the First Class entrance, as well as work on sections of the floor.
The terracotta and stained glass windows in the front of Victoria Baths have all been fully restored. The roofs on this section of the building have been re-slated and the original lead and cast iron rainwater goods refurbished. Further restoration work is still in progress today.

Visited with judderman 62 and joybee.

Edwardian Architecture. Simply stunning.


The grand Clock Tower.


Chimneys are cool :thumb


“Concilio et Labore” is the city of Manchester’s motto, which loosely translated means “Wisdom and Effort”


And the interior. I hope you enjoy.






















Thanks for looking :thumb

And the Baths rap :lol:


07-10-2010, 08:47 AM
As I ponder the question 'what indeed is a 1st class male?', here's a few of mine.

Out the back, the laundry was used weekly by the local gals who brought their washing along in the pram. Sounds all a bit dreary but apparently it was a bit like the precursor to the 'coffee morning'. Chat, gossip, scandal and at the end, clean washing. Bloody marv! I reckon the more technically advanced we get the more socially isolated we become.


Huge water tanks


Filtration room. Apparently, water was reused from '1st class males' (were back to that) and reused in the other pools! Great eh?


Interesting looking control panel thing


Onto a balcony



Part of the old card filing system for maintenance


Below the female pool. Service tunnels connect below all the pools.


Hopefully at least one pool will be reopened for public use sometime.


Thanks for looking.

07-10-2010, 11:08 AM
It was used in life on mars for the mortuary scenes, as well as the boxing ring scene i think.

http://m.gmgrd.co.uk/res/562.$plit/C_71_article_1015602_image_list_image_list_item_2_ image.jpg?05%2F09%2F2007%2014%3A39%3A44%3A347

http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSmpKfXAbvwl_hMyfvEpuDQMVzwOcpEe _T4_p_LplPIu_iUGk8&t=1&usg=__iB7L5at9njb2M043Q14nL44rvWs=
Another tacky use was this from 1985: