Astley Hall, Chorley Baguley Hall, Wythenshawe

Victoria Baths, Manchester

Grand Victorian Paternalism

Perhaps one of the most important late Victorian swimming pools in the country, we* were asked to carry out a condition report on the building for understanding the cost of repairs. We were also asked to consider space use and rental returns within the building, to show an income stream for a future Lottery Bid.

A somewhat eclectic Jacobean and Baroque styled brick facade hides a steel structure that had obviously rusted, jacking up parts of the outer front wall and cracking divide walls between the three pool halls. Both the filtration plant and the water-heating boiler were outdated. Over all roofs were leaking and vandalism had occurred to many windows.

A three pool facility (Male 1st class, Male 2nd class, Female) is enhanced by a spa and Turkish baths. The building features amazing coloured tiles to internal walls and decorative stained glass windows in many of the public rooms. Office space to a front range of buildings at first floor, a laundry, and separate boiler and filtration plant completed the structure.

The Baths won the first BBC Restoration Award, and Heritage Lottery Funds provided shell repairs to walls and the roofs. It remains in the hands of a Trust who are attempting to reuse as a swimming facility for the local community, many of whom swam in the pool as schoolchildren. The space is a valuable Art and exhibition space and includes a magnificent Turkish Baths, which are again in working order.

*While partner at Ryder & Dutton