Monday, 22 November 2010

Bath Time - 2
Back in July we spent a very enjoyable and exciting week in the centre of Manchester. (see blog entries On the P**s and others). We moored near the Museum of Science and Industry which was very convenient as we like to use shore facilities as often as possible to reduce the frequency of emptying our own toilet.
Whilst there we had to visit the Victoria Baths
in Sale/Hathersage. You may recall they were the winners of the BBC Restoration programme. They were designed by Henry Price and built in 1903-6. The original estimate of £57,000 was rejected as too expensive and plans were modified resulting in a revised figure of £39,000. Final cost was over £59,000. So nothing has changed in the world of civil engineering ,then.
Reflecting the values of the Victorian age which had just passed, there were three pools each with its own entrance from the street.
The size and quality of facilities reflected the status of these three classes, too. Part of the reason for the overspend was the decision to bore a well and install filters rather than rely on the sometimes murky mains water supply.
This clean water was pumped into the First Class Males' pool from where it flowed through the Second Class Males' and finally on to the Women's where it may have lost some of its advantages over the mains supply.

These were no simple swimming baths: the building also housed 64 wash baths, a Turkish Bath, a Russian Bath, clubhouse, boilers, calorifiers and a four-bedroom flat for the Superintendent of Baths.

In 1952 Victoria Baths installed the first Aeratone therapeutic bathing unit. Invented by a Scot, William Oliver, this was not for the faint-hearted as you sat in a metal tank of water whilst air was forced through vigorously.
The quality and abundance of the facilities are testament to the standing of these baths when they were built and for most of the 20th century but these windows in the First Class Males clubroom are one of the most remarkable features.

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