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Ok so it's not rock n' roll but it's pretty cool stuff and I couldn’t resist passing up on the opportunity to visit and report on Victoria Baths. I had been dying to go and photograph this listed building for a while. This is an Edwardian Grade II listed bathhouse close to Longsight, in Manchester, and quite easy to find. The baths are only open to the public on a Sunday, the first in the month, and its £2 entrance fee. They do open mid week for part of the year for special group guided tours. You can also book privately to view the baths or book for filming, art projects or photography purposes. Indeed a part of the TV series ‘Life On Mar’s was shot in the Turkish baths sections, others I am led to believe are Prime Suspect, Sherlock Holmes, Now Voyager (Barry Gibb), City Central, Funland and Gok Wan filming Miss Naked beauty Show.

Victoria baths is the most intact bathhouse in the UK, it is a glorious building full of architectural delight, with its terracotta façade, it’s rich colour scheme interior, the stained glass windows, many which have been restored sparkling in the Manchester sunlight are a wonder to behold. It also has highly decorative mosaic tiles. It was built with no expenses spared by Manchester's first City Architect, Henry Price at a cost of £59,000 and opened in 1906. It housed three Olympic sized swimming pools, (Originally designated for separate use by 1st class Males, 2nd class Males and Females only). Mixed bathing was introduced cautiously in 1914 and by the 1920s mixed bathing sessions were held every Sunday morning enabling families to swim together for the first time. Also Private baths a laundry and Turkish Baths. In 1952 the Victoria Baths installed the first public Aeratone (jacuzzi) in the country. The bathhouse finally closed its doors on 13.03.93 due to the high maintenance costs.

They were winners of the BBC2’s program Restoration in 2003 and from this received £3Million lottery funding to preserve the baths to its former glory. This is going to take some time, they rely on local sources and public funding. The total cost of renovation needed now is in the region of £20million. So it’s all a painstakingly slow process, but a deservedly good one, I’m all for preserving our heritage what’s left of it.



I would highly recommend a visit, preferably in a small group setting as it can get pretty packed out on a Sunday and if you’re taking photos you don’t want people in your shots, as I was dodging and ducking people out of shots. We did the guided tour but it was difficult to concentrate when all you wanted to do was wander around. Yet it is essential that you have a little understanding of the building and its history, although this guy did waffle on a bit.

The baths also have a Vintage fair on certain dates, and whilst not as cheap and cheerful as fairs used to be you can snatch a pretty nice piece of original jewellery or clothing. They also have a café selling yummy home made hot food and cakes, and cheaply priced to. So, for a great day out get yourself down there, help to bring this old beauty back to its glory days. One day we might just be able to go and actual swim there, we can live in hope.


I was disappointed that we didn’t manage to see the main pool – as this was currently being restored, but should be available to view in the summer. I will be back! Meanwhile to wet your appetite here is the remarkable 'Angel Of Purity' stained glass window at the front.

Victoria Baths
Hathersage Road

Visited 07/03/10

Photos by Mel - more on flickr page here

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