Report - - Victoria Baths, Manchester - June 2013 | Leisure Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Victoria Baths, Manchester - June 2013


A fellow of infinite jest
Regular User
Thanks to MSP for arranging this. It was well worth the drive and the tenner.

Visited with MSP, Zero81, Telf1980 and a non-member. Nice meeting you all.


When it opened in 1906, Victoria Baths in Manchester, was described as "the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country"
and "a water palace of which every citizen of Manchester can be proud."
Not only did the building provide spacious and extensive facilities for swimming, bathing and leisure, it was built of the highest
quality materials with many period decorative features, including stained glass, terracotta, tiles made by Pilkington, mosaic
floors and mahogany doors and panelling. It cost £59,000 to construct.

At the beginning of the Twentieth century, segregation in swimming and bathing by gender and by class was the norm.
Where an establishment had only one or two pools then segregation would take place by giving each class of users different days of the week.
Victoria Baths was built with three swimming pools (Males First Class, Males Second Class and Females), Turkish Baths, wash baths and a wash-house.
There was a 4 bedroom flat for the Superintendent of Manchester baths.
It was also later used as a dance hall and in the 1980s the Males Second Class pool was boarded over to form a sports hall.
The baths ceased to operate in 1993 but a restoration programme is now in place.










Males first class / Gala pool
This is the largest of the three swimming pools measuring 75 x 40ft.
All the pools were arranged with cubicles along the poolside, the common layout for Victorian and Edwardian pools.
The gala pool is almost intact and retains most of it’s 1906 features.
The raked seating here provides excellent views for spectators watching swimming galas, displays and polo matches.
In the 1930s it cost 1d to watch a water polo match. It is told that the young girls saw the polo players as gods

Females pool





The males wash bath - now a cafe.



Turkish bath suite
Victoria Baths has a typical English Turkish bath. It has three hot rooms heated with hot air, the Tepidarium, Calidarium and
Laconicum which have rising levels of heat. The Laconicum is the hottest.
It has double glazed windows to keep in the heat with copper beading as lead would be too soft in the high temperature (sic).

The Turkish bath suite also contains a Russian bath (similar to a modern steam room) and a shampooing room where
you could wash or receive a rub-down. There is also a shower or Douche for cooling off.
One of the showers is a needle-point shower where water comes at you from all directions.

The Turkish baths was still very popular when Victoria Baths closed in 1993






This is the rest room or cooling room of the Turkish bath suite.
It is kept at normal temperatures so that you can cool down at the end of your session before getting dressed and going outside.


Workshop where they make replacement stained glass


The Aeratone
In 1952 an area that used to be a waiting room for female users of the baths (presumably some women and girls needed to be escorted home)
was converted to provide a new facility – The Aeratone.
It was the first in a public baths in England.

The bath consisted of a stainless steel cylinder 6 feet high and 3 feet 5 inches in diameter.
Inside was another slightly smaller stainless steel cylinder, which was perforated.
Compressed air was blown into the bath between the two cylinders and aerated the water with small bubbles.
The air supply was controlled by valves.
It provides a full body massage which can be used to treat a variety of ailments such as rheumatic conditions.
It is very effective at treating sports injuries.
The Aeratone was still in regular use when the baths closed in 1993.


Sand filtration units.
These would contain graded sand that would filter out particulates down to 30 microns.
They would be periodically backwashed to remove the contaminants.
This type of filter is still installed in modern pools.


The original boilers for heating the pools, for hot water for showers, baths and the laundry.


The clock tower is usually off limits but with a bit of persuasion we were given access.
Stripped of most of it’s gears and converted to electric winding and chiming, it’s been recently rewired.
The winder and bell chime look to date from the 1950’s.



The original lead pendulum bob with steel shaft, probably weighing around 30stone / 200 kilos.


Finally one of the many stained glass windows. Thanks to Zero81 for the tips on window photos - I almost got it right with this one :rolleyes:




Armchair warrior
28DL Full Member
Beautiful shots Yorrick, thanks for sharing.

I visited on a Sunday Open Day a few years back, a lot of restoration work in progress.


Is the cow still there?

if you haven't been it's well worth a visit. Full details at their website -- tours every Weds.

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