Victoria Baths – Manchester, England - Atlas Obscura

Victoria Baths

These lovely Turkish-styled baths were brought back to life after winning a reality show competition. 


Located in Manchester, England, the Victoria Baths were originally a lush public bath house that catered to flocks of local bathers, but by the 1990s the ornate public pool had fallen into disrepair, until it was voted to be saved on a television competition. 

Opened in 1906, the Victoria Baths were created to be, as the designers described it, “a water palace.” The opulent space ended up costing the builders almost twice what a similar bath house would have cost in those days. The steaming waters of the baths were heated by a couple of brand new steam boilers that pushed hot water across the whole facility. After making a splash with its opening, the baths managed to produce a number of professional swimmers in the 20th century who would use the large central pool as a training space. In the winter months when the pool was covered, other sports were hosted in the structure ranging from volleyball to bowling.

Unfortunately the good times ended when the baths were finally closed in 1993. Originally the building was slated for destruction until public outcry resulted in the edifice being saved, but left derelict and deteriorating. However thanks to the BBC2 reality show, Restoration, the fading space was put in competition to receive a restoration grant, and it won!

The three million pound grant was not awarded until 2007, but the building has since been significantly improved and is once again open for events such as concerts, and yes, even swimming. 

Know Before You Go

Weekend tours run from April to the end of October. There are often private functions taking place, so it is best to check website to avoid disappointment.

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