Discover more about the history and architecture of Victoria Baths: ‘Britain’s finest historic municipal swimming pool’.
The Grade 2 listed building was opened to the public in September 1906 and cost £59,144 to build. In his opening address, the Lord Mayor of Manchester described the building as a “water palace”. For 86 years Victoria Baths provided both essential and leisure facilities. Private baths and a laundry were housed there along with three swimming pools and a Turkish bath.
No expense was spared in the design and construction of the building, Manchester having at that time one of the world’s wealthiest municipal coffers. Many of Victoria Baths’ finest decorative aspects can still be enjoyed today. The facade 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.
Whilst the facilities, architecture and unique atmosphere of Victoria Baths was enjoyed by local residents for many years, in 1993 Manchester City Council decided to close the building as they couldn’t justify the expense of keeping them open. A Charitable Trust was formally set up in the same year, with the aim of fully restoring the building and bringing it back into public use.
The Trust took control of the building in 2001 and in September 2003 Victoria Baths won the first series of the BBC’s Restoration programme. It was awarded £3.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a restoration project began in 2007.
Whilst there is still a lot of work to be done, the building now hosts many events and has over 30,000 visitors a year. Join us for this tour to get a insight into Victoria Baths’ past, present and future.
Good to know: We will meet in the main entrance area. The tour will start promptly at 10.00am, so please arrive in good time. Refreshments are available – please see ticket types for further details.