The foundation stone for Withington Baths is dated 11 November 1911 and for 103 years the Edwardian building has served the people of Withington and all their public bathing requirements. It was designed by the City architect Henry Price (1867-1944), who also designed Withington Public Library.
The Centenary (google.com/site/withingtonareaevents) was held at the Baths on 12 November 2011, with banners, balloons, cake and talks given. Alan Mather, whose father was a manager in the 1930s and 1940s and used to live in the first floor flat above the Baths shared some memories, there was a talk on the engineering history of the Baths and the staff provided cake, with guided tours rounding off the day. Withington Civic Society describe it as “a splendid occasion, a fitting birthday for the Baths and a fine exercise in living history - bringing the past to the present.”
Originally there were two pools at the Baths, a first class and a second class, with the clean water being used first in the former and then the latter! It was, rather saucily, in 1914 the first Baths to allow mixed male and female bathing - very progressive! One hundred years later we celebrated this momentous controversial decision.
Did you know that in 1915, Withington was described as “Wealthy, a kind of upper-class Olympia, with a rather pronounced air of ‘culture’ and the higher life”?
On New Year’s Eve, 1940, during the Second World War, an air raid shelter directly in front of the baths took a direct hit and seven ARP wardens lost their lives.
There were originally plans for a third pool which was never built and by the 1990s, council cuts meant Pool 1 was drained and boarded over, creating a new gym for community use. Pool 2 has continued to be well used by school, for lessons, by gym users and local swimmers.
We can’t let all this history go down the plughole now, can we?!
In the future the building will be used for a wide range of additional community purposes, so if you have any ideas on what Withington is missing, or have a community project yourself which is looking for a home...