Victoria Baths (aka Manchester’s ‘Water Palace’) is a grade II listed building just South of the city centre. It originally opened to the public in 1906 and was in use as swimming baths right up until 1993.
The building itself is one of the most interesting in Manchester, in my opinion. It was designed by Manchester’s first City Architect Henry Price and cost around £59,000, which was an extortionate amount of money back in 1906. It was between 4 and 8 times more expensive than the average swimming baths open at the time.
When it first opened, Victoria Baths’ three swimming pools segregated the first class men, second class men and women. There were also Turkish bath rooms of varying temperatures; hot, very hot, and very very hot.
Nowadays restoration work is underway to re-open the baths sometime in the future. It’s an expensive project, but they’re hoping to start with the Turkish Bath facility first and then at least one of the old swimming pools.
In the meantime, regular events of all kinds are held at the Baths, like film-making workshops, fiction readings, vintage fairs and more. I also went on one of the weekly Wednesday afternoon tours of the building to find out a bit more about the history. It was really informative and great if you want to have a guided snoop around the complex.
In recent years the Baths have been used as the set in a number of TV shows, such as Life on Mars and Peaky Blinders.