of Withington Baths (1983) by R. J. Burgess.
Mark Watson (reproduction), R. J. Burgess (original)
Baths Centenary Celebrations 1911-2011
Civic Society would like to thank all those who
made this celebration a success: all the staff of
the Baths, including the managers Brian Greenwood,
Harry Johnson and Tony Kirwan; Clare Goatman of
Manchester Sport and Leisure Trust for her
support, help in organising and providing
equipment; Gillian Harwood, of Serco, who helped
with organisation and the provision of cakes; Sue
McCarthy, a Green Badge Guide with Tour
Manchester, for her talk and her enthusiasm for
local history. Cakes and refreshments were
provided by the staff of the Baths, Martins Bakery
and by Alma Davies. To mark the occasion, Amy
Glendinning contributed a long article on the
history of the Baths to the South Manchester
Baths has a foundation stone dated 11th November
1911. A centenary celebration was held on 12th
November 2011. It was a gloriously sunny autumn
afternoon, the Baths had been decorated by the
staff with birthday banners and balloons, some
staff were dressed in period costume and served
refreshments to the Baths' users.
afternoon celebrations started with the cutting of
a birthday cake by Councillor Mike Amesbury. This
was followed with a talk by Sue McCarthy (of Tour
Manchester), introduced by Roger Smith of
Withington Civic Society. Sue talked about the
history of Withington, the history of swimming
pools and the history of Withington Baths itself.
The turnout was tremendous with over 80 in the
audience. The talk was well received and generated
considerable discussion. As a bonus, several
members of the audience with particular knowledge
of the Baths gave short presentations. Alan Maher,
who used to live in a flat above the Baths when
his father was a manager of the Baths in the 1930s
and 1940s, shared some of his memories with us.
Mark Watson talked about the engineering history
of the Baths and brought along a painting of the
Baths (reproduced above). The staff of the Baths
donated a large birthday cake and Alan Maher was
invited to cut the cake. Finally, Brian Greenwood,
one of the managers, offered guided tours of the
Baths. In all, this was a splendid occasion, a
fitting birthday for the Baths and a fine exercise
in living history - bringing the past to the
on the pictures below for larger versions.
Mike Amesbury, with family, cutting a birthday
cake to start
crowds outside the baths.
member of staff in period costume.
McCarthy before her talk on the history of
Withington and the Baths.
of the audience.
Maher, whose father was a manager at the Baths,
in what was once his childhood bedroom in a flat
above the Baths.
birthday cake kindly donated by the
of the Baths.
Maher cutting the cake, with some of the staff
at the back and their birthday decorations.
of the Baths
Baths have a datestone of 1911, and were built
immediately to the north of a cricket ground on Burton
Road. The building was designed by Henry Price
(1867-1944), a City Council architect, who also
designed Withington Public Library. The style of the
Baths combines elements of Art Nouveau and the Arts
and Crafts movement. The Baths had separate entrances
for men and women. Despite this, it was the first
Baths in Manchester to allow mixed bathing (in 1914).
the Second World War, on New Year's Eve 1940, an
air-raid shelter in front of the baths took a direct
hit. Seven ARP wardens were killed.
original plans for the Baths, designed by the Manchester
City Architect, Henry Price:
a blog by Polly Harlow, written for Withington Civic
paper putting forward ideas for these [Withington] baths
was first presented in 1909, with £20,000 proposed for the
provision of three plunge baths (first and second class
for men and one for women). There were some objections on
the grounds of cost, with the council determining that
£12,000 should suffice.
1911, a newspaper advertised the construction of the new
baths, and discussed the memorial stone of the new
building, which can still be seen today. Originally
there were plans for two swimming baths, and it is said
that one was planned to be set apart for female use only,
given the high concentration of women initially attracted
to the new baths. Contrary to the previous estimate, the
article also cites the final cost of the baths at £15,000.
third article, written on May 2nd, 1913, describes the
opening of the Withington baths the day before by the Lord
Mayor of Manchester. The Lord Mayor was ‘presented with a
key outside the building and formally unlocked the door,’
marking the opening of the baths which have survived until
now. By 1914 mixed bathing was allowed in the baths: