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Swim for Restoration 2018
22 May 2018
Lifestyle writer and blogger Susan Earlam gives her personal account of swimming at our Swim for Restoration...
A blissfully sunny afternoon and I found myself with butterflies in my stomach.
That familiar pre-swimming lesson sensation from childhood, rearing it’s fluttering head.
Getting out of my car with my swim stuff in a bag on my shoulder, I clutch my phone and bring up the virtual ticket.
My passport through time.
My mum swam here as a girl and now I am getting to swim in the most majestic and criminally underfunded venue in Manchester, Victoria Baths, as if you didn't know.
The volunteers working today are attentive and knowledgeable. I get shown to a cubicle and it dawns on me why the ticket says a set time, there’s only so many cubicles to get changed in.
Seeing the pool filled with water, and the sun filtering through the glass windows is breath-taking. Inside the pool colourful inflatables are frolicking with members of the public, everyone is smiling in wonder. We all can't believe it, what a treat, what a moment to remember.
There’s a real feeling of being in on some wonderful secret place.
The water is surprisingly warm, I am swimming solo, but I don't feel alone. I want to linger, to absorb all the details here, all the sensations. I wish I could take photographs with my eyes.
The Baths has come to life in a way I haven't seen before on my many visits preceding this one. And of course, it makes complete sense it is a Baths after all, this is what it’s designed for.
Everything feels more vibrant, more lucid, more colourful.
I wish everyone could see it today, and when I share a photo on my Instagram feed a few days later it feels like I’ve shown it to people. I say, look, look at this wonderful place. This is what you could have. This is where you could go. The photo goes on to be one of my most liked and engaging photos ever.
The secret is out.
13 Apr 2018
We had a great time at our last Open Day on 8th April when we were joined by Traction Engines, Vintage Buses, a mini steam train and lots of wonderful stalls from history and heritage groups around Greater Mancheter. Many thanks to everyone who contributed and came along to visit.
Swim for Restoration
23 May 2017
What an amazing time we had, when we opened our doors for one day of public swimming on Sunday 14th May. Not only did we have 177 very excited members of the public having a great time, we had masses of media interest. Never has a public swim produced so many lovely photographs!
And the Swim raised £3,000 for our restoration funds, with a further donation still to come in from the weekend.
20 Mar 2017
The first open day of the year on Sunday 9th April 2017 will feature visiting stream traction engines and a heritage fair. Emily Oldfield looks forward to this:
It will be a real trip back in time from 11am onwards; with the chance to see impressive steam traction engines up close. Learn about how these steam-propelled engines, also known as ‘road locomotives’, became a crucial part of Manchester’s industrial history.
There will also be afternoon performances from the local choir Artful Voices at 1pm and 2.30pm, a number of stalls and exclusive guided tours.
Stallholders will include representatives from Manchester Jewish Museum, the Pankhurst Centre, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and the Museum of Transport. There will be a range of books from Chis Makepeace, and a chance to learn more about groups including The Victorian Society Manchester and Ancoats Dispensary Trust. This is the chance to buy beautiful goods as well as learn more about a variety of local history, all under one roof at the historic Victoria Baths, Longsight.
Discover the history of the former ‘Water Palace’ for yourself with the choice of two guided tours. After all, the beautiful baths building on Hathersage Road could be considered a fitting location – full of period charm, originally opened in 1906 and celebrated as ‘the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country’. A Turkish bath suite, tiled floors and terracotta are just the start…
With the ‘Discover Victoria Baths Tour’ on at 12 noon, 1pm and 2.30pm you will be guided through the impressive architecture and history of the place, from learning about Mr Henry Price the city architect supervising the build back in 1902, to the terracotta coat of arms, the Gala Pool and much more. You will also hear the various ways the building has been used, hear memories of bathers and learn about the 2003 BBC Restoration win and how the money was spent.
Feeling adventurous? There’s also an ‘Off Limits’ tour for even more exploration inside The Baths, which will run from 2pm. This means you have access to some of the lesser known parts of the building – unlock the undercroft of the pools and places that have been used for filming, including TV shows such as Life on Mars and Mrs Biggs. You’ll also get to take in all the usual iconic sights.
With both tours you can also learn more about the exciting future of the building – including plans for a Turkish Bath installation and apartment living. Plus there’s chance to get involved yourself and be inspired by the dedicated team of volunteers who keep the baths up and running.
Throughout the day, The Tearoom will be serving a range of refreshments and the gift shop open too, selling books, handmade crafts and many other items to take home. Victoria Baths proudly served the people of Manchester for 87 years from its opening date back in 1906, and since its re-opening in 2007, the service just keeps on going.
It’s been a busy few years for the baths, which has served as an alternate concert venue for the Royal Northern College of Music, an exhibition centre – and last year became host to the Indy Man Beer Con and a number of vintage film screenings.
2017’s first open day is the start to another exciting year at The Baths – which has already hosted The Vintage Home Show, and is welcoming the Manchester Gin Festival Friday 24th March - Sunday 2nd April.
With upcoming wedding shows, restaurant pop-ups and even more heritage open days, there is plenty to be excited about. Victoria Baths is open April-October annually, with guided tours typically every Wednesday and upcoming open days on the second Sunday of every month.
Art & Craft Fair
5 Jun 2015
We are very much looking forward to the Art & Craft Fair on Sunday (7th June, 11am-4pm). We are fully booked with stalls, there will be a great variety of artwork and craft on sale, and the Ordsall Acapella Singers will be here to entertain us too.
The Smith Bros Book, Records and Collectables Fair
1 Jun 2014
On the open day of june 1st, The Smith Brothers arrived at Victoria Baths with their Book, Records and Collectables fair.
The sports hall was set up with 30+ stalls selling unique items in categories of: Second-hand Books, Vinyl, Collectables memorabilia, Antiques, Object D'Art, Retro and Vintage. Something for everyone!
One stall in particular managed to catch our attention. That stall was a special addition to The Smith Bros fair, an addition put in place especially for Victoria Baths. This stall was focused on swimming memorabilia! It was braught to us by "Brown Bowlers Emporium" as shown in the picture below, dressed fit for the occasion!
When I said "unique" up top, I really did mean unique. Here's a look at some of the... darker stalls that appeared!
Yes, those are teeth. No, brush is not included! Do you agree with "something for everyone" yet?
In addition to the fair, we had 2 performances from the wonderful Manchester Community Choir, who were right next door in the Gala Pool. Big thanks to those guys for coming to give our visitors a nice place to have a rest from all the shopping!
Another big thanks to all of you who take the time to visit us on our open days! We hope to see you at our Art & Craft fair on July 6th, on this open day we will see locally selected craftsmen selling their unique and creative wares. For all the info, scroll up and click that "Visit" tab and then hit the "What's On" button!
How You Move Is Who You Are!
3 May 2014
Some say he is still spinning....
On the night of May 3rd, the Un-Rest exhibition came alive as Northern Soul lovers from across the country came to Victoria Baths to share their passion and dance the night away on the highest sprung dance floor in the country for our recorded soul event - the all nighter.
As shown in the picture above, the dancefloor started to fill up quickly. Once band The Soultrain came out, the building slowly exploded with energy and excitement!
Heading on to early hours of the morning, fantastic DJ performances from various talented artists throughout the night (for example, Martin the MOD D.J. down below) kept our dancers going just as strong as when they arrived!
After sunrise and us staff trying to keep awake by listening to the Dawn Chorus, the "hardcore crew" were congratulated at roughly 6.30am. Simply for managing to last so long! How?
"Thanks to Alison, Gill and the fantastic team of volunteers at Victoria Baths for making it possible, to the Top Class DJs for their full support, quick thinking and generosity of spirit, The SoulTrain for bouncing the floor early doors and to all the wonderful people who bought tickets and made the night a huge success. -
My head is thumping and I can still hear all the brilliant tunes from Roy Stewart, Owen Phillips-Bolton, Ethan Howarth, The SoulTrain, Roman Korol, Glenn Walker-Foster, Martin The MOD D.J., Brent Howarth, Pete Davies and the dawn chorus himself Ricky Warburton." - William Titley, the artist behind the all nighter magic, who was also the great photographer behind the pictures above.
It wasn't over just yet! Only a few hours later on Sunday the 4th May, our doors opened to the public for our May Open Day, which included a dance off performance between morris dancers and northern soul dancers (surprisingly, some from the long night before!).
Unfortunatley, neither group was officially crowned as a victor, the audience was left to decide who they thought won. Unless they joined in and voted for themselves.. that doesn't count!
Big shout out to Wayne Hemingway (left) who was the DJ in the dance off! Picture also showing Alison Kershaw and William Titley.
Thanks to everyone who came to not just take part in the events but those who came to view the exhibitions over the course of UnRest too, we here at VB had a great time hosting and the artists were all happy about the outcome and the fantastic feedback from the likes of yourselves!
That's all for the May blog! We hope to see you at our Open Day on June 1st, which will be host to our first vintage book fair! See the "Visit" tab above and "What's On" for more information.
Aidan O'Rourke's Photography Workshop
26 Oct 2012
At the October Open Day famous published local photographer Aidan O'Rourke supervised his second photography workshop at VB.
Participants were allowed into parts of the buidling not usually open to the public, including the top floor of the Superintendent's flat where he took the above photo.
Aidan gave workshop participants feedback and tips on their efforts.
More details on Aidan's blog
His next workshop at the November Open Day is already fully booked.
Ordsall Acapella Singers at VB
10 Sep 2012
Categories: Open Day
Ordsall choir were at VB again yesterday. They performed in the (empty) Gala pool. They gave their usual lively performance.
Cartoon by Jill Woodward
Vintage Fair launches new season of VB Open Days
6 Apr 2012
View of the Vintage Fair from balcony
600 people visited us on 1st April for the first Open Day of 2012. The main attraction was the Vintage Fair, which had stalls with a range of vintage fashion, furniture and home items from the 1920s to 1970′s.
Customers consider their purchases
and get a Vintage Hair Do
The Vintage Advantage 2011
26 Jan 2012
Vintage fashion is, well, in fashion at the moment, and everyone’s out looking for authentic pre-loved clothes, accessories and homewares. Many of the Northwest’s vintage fashionistas could be found at Victoria Baths in March 2011, browsing through the goods on offer at the Baths first Open Day WITH Vintage Fair. There was the usual chance to enjoy a guided tour of Victoria Baths, take photographs and enjoy some of the fantastic homemade cake in the cafe, but this Open Day also offered the opportunity to bag yourself a whole new (old) wardobe, as the Baths came alive with twenties flappers, fifties rock ‘n’ roll, and glamorous shoppers.