Turkish baths in provincial England

Manchester: High Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

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The Victoria Baths

4: Closure and the aftermath

In the year 1913-14, the Victoria baths cost £7,600 to run; in 1993 the annual running cost was said to be £250,000 and with an estimated £1m. needed for essential repairs, the Corporation decided to close the baths. It was not a popular decision.

Demonstrators campaigning to save an art nouveau baths building from closure promised yesterday to maintain a constant picket outside after a two-day sit-in ended with the doors locked and two people taken to hospital.

Scuffles broke out at the Victoria baths in Manchester as city council employees attempted to remove the last four of an estimated 200 demonstrators who occupied the building on Saturday, the day fixed for closure.

While some supporters maintain that contemporary reports of scuffles and injuries were exaggerated, there is no doubt that the protests were widely supported. In particular, as the placard of one of the marchers proclaimed, there was some resentment that while there was no shortage of cash for the Council's bid for the Olympic Games, there was none to support a historic swimming pool for local people.

The Friends of Victoria Baths and the Victoria Baths Trust

Campaigning since 1993 to have the baths re-opened, The Friends have been actively supported by Gerald Kaufman mp and backed by a petition of over 16,000 signatories. The baths have now been upgraded from Grade II to Grade II* on the List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest.

The Victoria Baths Trust was set up in 1993 by members of the Friends of Victoria Baths and was later granted charitable status. The Trust is committed to achieving a secure future for the public provision of swimming and other facilities at the Baths including the Turkish Baths Suite.

Since then, the baths have become a major community centre organising a wide range of activities, raising money by letting out the baths as a popular venue, financing restoration of an increasing part of the building, and drawing up future development plans.

The Friends welcome all who wish to join them in these activities and a regularly updated website tells of their progress and their current activities. Re-opening the Turkish baths is their next major objective.

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Gill Wright, Development Manager, Victoria Baths Trust

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March protesting at closure

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

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