National Heritage Open Days : Victoria Baths, Manchester

Every September hundreds of places open their doors for free during Heritage open days. Pop onto this website and type in your postcode and you can see which places and events are free near you.

I did exactly this, and having visited a few that were close to me, I decided to head towards Manchester way and visit somewhere which had been on my radar for a while after spotting it on Accidentally Wes Anderson’s Instagram page, Victoria Baths.

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Victoria Baths is a listed Edwardian swimming pool and Turkish Baths complex which had been closed since 1993 awaiting restoration and staying remarkably intact from its beautiful original tiles to the stained-glass windows.

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Originally opened in 1906, and designed by the Architect Henry Price, no expense was spared and it was described as a ‘water palace’ by the Lord Mayor.  There is a ‘first-class’ pool reserved for wealthy Mancunian gents who were given the cleanest water. Their leftover water was then filtered into the ‘second-class’ male pool, and then finally to the female baths!

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The ‘first-class’ pool also has fabulous blue stalls that were used for changing rooms which I couldn’t stop snapping photographs of!

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I explored the Turkish baths with their glazed green tiles and beautiful stained-glass windows, imagining relaxing in the rest room.

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Climbing the impressive staircase to the 2nd floor of the building, the Superintendent’s Flat has a number of rooms that were used as accommodation for the Bath’s most senior official. The flat is fascinating to walk around, especially for those who have ever renovated a house – with peeling wallpaper and holes in the plaster, it looks like a project in progress! It has been used for various photoshoots and for displaying artists work.

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The Victoria Baths are available for hire and they also have various events on which you can check on their website. They are open from April to October and tours take place every week on a Wednesday at 2pm. There is also a lovely little tearoom available for tea, coffee or a bite to eat.

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