Every so often a newsletter pops through my door from the lovely people at Manchester’s gorgeous Victoria Baths. The building, winner of the BBC’s 2003 ‘Restoration’ programme is a real jewel in the crown of British municipal architecture, and it’s always fantastic and inspiring to receive updates on their work.
In the last few years the Baths have been transformed from a derelict building to a busy heritage visitor attraction. Last year members of Friends of Moseley Road Baths were lucky enough to spend the day touring the building and witness the restoration ourselves. The visit was made particularly exciting as the facade of the whole building had recently been completely restored to its former glory, complete with lovely wrought iron fencing, cleaned up terracotta and beautifully restored stained glass windows. The care and attention given to each little detail is staggering. It’s well worth having a look at their website to find out how such an immense amount of work has been successfully achieved.
Even if you can’t make the journey up to Manchester yourselves for one of the many open days or arts events that are now taking place there, the chances are that you will have already seen the building without being aware of it. Amongst other hit TV shows, various parts of the building were used to film the 70s spoof cop show ‘Life on Mars’ and more recently it has formed the backdrop to ‘Casualty 1909’.
Manchester’s Victoria Baths really shows how relevant and exciting our community buildings can be. Great efforts have been made to get the community through the doors, to collect oral histories and to maintain the integrity of the building. However, that’s not to say that it’s been an easy ride – all of the people who have worked so hard to get to this stage are to be commended. Well done, and all the best for the next stages of restoration!