We visited the rather excellent Vintage Home Show a few weeks ago – full of very interesting post-war vintage dealers. It was great going to a specialist vintage homeware event in Manchester – we’re spoiled for general vintage events in the north-west, but furniture, art and vintage objects can sometimes get lost amongst the vintage clothes and fashion.
But aside from the show, there was another big reason we wanted to visit: the venue, Manchester’s Victoria Baths. You may recognise the Grade II listed Edwardian public baths, which were closed to the public in the early 90s and left to rot, from the BBC’s Restoration programme a few years ago. The ensuing restoration work is well under way following a few setbacks, but there is still a long way to go to fully save the building and get it working again.
This means the building is currently in a fascinating state – part restored, part stripped back, part untouched. It’s almost entirely open for you to freely wander around and explore, and there are some wonderful details from the stark and beautiful Edwardian tiles, equipment and peeling ironwork, to the staggeringly municipal 1970s or 80s formica-walled public bathtubs (imagine going to public baths to actually take a bath! There was a public laundry too).
If you’re near Manchester and get the chance, visit Victoria Baths soon. Even once the restoration is completed (and I will be in the queue for the Turkish Baths once they’re open!) many of the more mundane, but fascinating, details from its history, will inevitably be lost – especially from the less celebrated later decades of it’s active life.
Of course, a good opportunity to visit will be the next Vintage Homes Show on October 14th – where I will, hopefully, be selling my restored vintage telephones.