Manchester’s Victoria Baths – a feasibility study for a much-loved heritage building

Splendid interior of Manchester's Victoria Baths

Lots of people know about Manchester’s Victoria Baths – partly because they were the first winner of Griff Rhys Jones’ Restoration TV programme. But Blue Sail’s own Mancunian director Graham has more than a passing interest. He used to swim there as a boy.

That was before he became something of a heritage expert himself of course.  And quite a while before the Baths closed in 1993.  So when we got the chance to help sort out the future of the splendid Edwardian pools and Turkish baths – known locally as Manchester’s “water palace” – Graham dived right in (so to speak).

The Trust that’s now looking after the building has used the TV win to secure it so that it’s structurally sound.  They’ve turned it into a popular events venue – for weddings, conferences, auctions and fairs.  But there is no water in the water palace.

Back in its hey day, there were several baths – a first-class males’, second-class males’, ladies’, and Turkish Baths.  All in ornate surroundings including some marvellous stained glass.  The Trust asked Blue Sail to look at how they could bring at least some of the pools back into use – and how that could stack up financially.  We worked with our partners FMG Consulting (who specialise in sports and leisure) and have found a way forward.

Now Graham’s optimistic he’ll be back there for a swim in the not-too-distant future …

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