Victoria Baths

Manchester - 2009

In 1906 the beautiful cream and red brick building was opened to the public, it provided private bathing, a laundry, three public pools and a Turkish Bath. In the winter months they added a floor over the main pool to create a dance floor. The baths were closed in 1993 and the building was left empty and to fall into disrepair. The Victoria Baths restoration began in 2007, thanks to £5m  raised from a number of sources, including a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund because it won the BBC’s Restoration programme in 2003. It was only the basic restoration when we visited, making it waterproof with the roof being repaired etc. The baths has been used on many occasions since our visit for filming, TV and movies including Peaky Blinders, Life on Mars and Sherlock Holmes.

Chorley PS arranged the Sunday visit after, a short history & introduction to the rules of the group visit, we were basically free  to explore,  several club members took models and light set ups.  I was completely taken a back by how much it reminded me of  The Victoria Bath in Southport, were I learnt to swim and have so many happy memories. The exploration begins, my shots included the buildings iconic blue cubicles with red and white striped curtains, the empty pool, managers flat and the beautiful tiles and stained glass work.  Imagining, how it must of been with water in the pool and people enjoying the themselves. A very inspiring place for photography. 

Everyone was taking shots of the models and the architecture. As usual I was looking for a different angle to the place,  to build in a feel of the building by creating something different. Purely by chance. In a small changing room  I found a man’s black umbrella with a wooden handle, Lost property. This was the difference I was looking for. The umbrella was the representation of someone who might visit the baths in the past or be the manager. Revisiting the rooms, with the inspiration ready to go. I moved chairs and furniture to create something inspired by using the umbrella. Creating more of a movie themed images. I’ve chosen The Chair to represent the story and was probably the most recognised of the set, as it received awards in many exhibitions. All processed with Photoshop, Nik Filters and a little imagination. 

This set of work was used as part of my talk at the time and inspired many people to visit the venue.  One of my personal favourites in the Single Umbrella against the old wall paper as there’s a small drawn face on the wall which added a personal touch from the room. 

After revisiting the images. I’d love to return again, one day when this is all over. 


All Right Reserved Dianne Owen FRPS 2021