Victoria Baths

The venue for ‘Romeo and Juliet’

It was a quiet Wednesday afternoon in Manchester and I had booked a tour round Victoria Baths. I vaguely remember seeing the Baths on the BBC2 programme ‘Restoration’ some years ago, but my interest this time was triggered by the upcoming HOME production of Romeo and Juliet.  The tours are run by volunteers and their passion for this building is obvious.

In fact the Victoria Baths are a real find. They are £4m into a £24m renovation programme, with the initial work to keep the building watertight just about completed.  The Baths consist of three separate pools (men’s first class, men’s second class and ladies), of which two are empty and one covered over for use as a hall. I understand that Romeo and Juliet is a promenade performance which will move between the three pools.  Will there be water?

Beautiful Building

It is possible to get married here and it is booked up for over a year. You can see why. It is an iconic building that oozes local history.  The detail is incredible, clearly a lot of time and money was spent on the original building and the fittings.  A suite of rooms used to form a Turkish bath, with each room set at a slightly different temperature to allow you to warm up or cool down slowly.

There seems to be less of a problem with raising the funds than in finding a way to make the baths long term viable. There is no money in public swimming pools, and the building seems to be looking for a purpose. An innovative and compelling venue for a play!

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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