SJ8595 : Victoria Baths, Males 1st Class/Gala Pool

taken 5 years ago, near to Manchester, Great Britain

Victoria Baths, Males 1st Class/Gala Pool
Victoria Baths, Males 1st Class/Gala Pool
The widest of the three Olympic-length pools at Victoria Baths was the Males 1st Class pool, also known as the Gala Pool because it was used for special events such as swimming galas etc.

Segregation in swimming and bathing both by gender and by class was normal procedure at the beginning of the twentieth century. Where an establishment had only one or two pools, segregation would take place by giving each class of user a different day of the week. At Victoria Baths, there were three separate entrances, separate swimming pools and separate wash baths for Males 1st Class, Males 2nd Class and Females. In 1906, it cost 6d to use the 1st Class facilities compared to 4d for the 2nd Class.

As well being used for swimming competitions, the main pool was emptied and a protective floor installed every year when dances were held during the winter months. In this photo, the tiles on the pool floor have been covered for an art exhibition.
Victoria Baths, Manchester
Opened in 1906 by the Lord Mayor of Manchester who described it as a 'water palace of which every citizen of Manchester is proud', The Victoria Baths on Hathersage Road in Chorlton-on-Medlock were designed as a prestigious baths complex by Manchester's first City Architect, Henry Price back in 1902. No expense was spared in the design and construction of the Baths, Manchester having at that time one of the world's wealthiest municipal coffers. The façade has multi-coloured brickwork and terracotta decoration, the main interior public spaces are clad in glazed tiles from floor to ceiling and most of the many windows have decorative stained glass including the famous Angel of Purity.

For 86 years, until its closure in 1993, 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 and, between 1906 and 1993, Victoria Baths were used by thousands of people for swimming, bathing, washing, dancing and relaxing. The pool was the breeding ground for numerous swimming champions.

However changing social conditions and patterns of leisure activities meant the Baths were less well-used and, as the Baths were expensive to run Manchester City Council could no longer justify (or afford) the costs to keep the building open and functioning and they were closed on 13 March 1993 despite local protests.

Ten years later, Manchester’s Victoria Baths won £3m of Heritage Lottery funding through the first BBC TV “Restoration” programme. Thousands of viewers voted for the beautiful building, now widely recognised as the most intact and lavish example of municipal swimming pool architecture in the country, to receive the funding and an additional £2million has been raised by the Victoria Baths Trust.

The building, now in the process of being restored to its former glory, is a Grade II* listed building (English Heritage Building ID: 388171 LinkExternal link British Listed Buildings)

Further information:
LinkExternal link Victoria Baths website
LinkExternal link BBC Manchester
LinkExternal link Daily Mail online
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SJ8595, 125 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 30 April, 2014   (more nearby)
Saturday, 3 May, 2014
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Public buildings and spaces  City, Town centre 
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Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SJ 8571 9595 [10m precision]
WGS84: 53:27.6061N 2:13.0013W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SJ 8571 9593
View Direction
North-northwest (about 337 degrees)
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