Baths and Wash-Houses in Manchester & Salford The Builder 14th August 1858

The Builder 14th August 1858 Image of Original Article

The bath and wash-houses now in operation in Manchester and Salford appear to be successful works of the kind.

The first establishment with the improved arrangements and modified changes was opened in Miller Street in 1845. In 1850 a small building was opened at Miles Platting a poor quarter of the town, – the site being presented with £2,000, by Sir Benjamin Hayward, bart. The fittings here are of inexpensive character, and were it not for the interest taken by the superintendent, and tact in management, the place could hardly be kept open. In this case, wood for the private baths (the bottom of red deal and the sides of pine), has answered as a material. Slate has been found to crack. Zinc is deemed objectionable. The best material is the glazed or enamelled fire clay; but many baths of that kind are cracked when delivered, though still fit for use.

The Manchester and Salford Baths and Laundries Company, however, have made the important step to the desired provision of these excellent institutions. The company consists of about fifty of the leading men of the town and they have already in operation two establishments at Greengate Salford and Mayfield Ardwick Manchester and plans are prepared for a third building on ground near to Stretford New Road.

The Builder 14 August 1858 Mr Thomas Worthington The Architect Mayfield Baths Sketch of Interior

Mr Thomas Worthington was chosen as architect to the first of the establishments out of three competitors, and has acted for the company. For the Greengate Baths and Wash-houses tenders were accepted amounting to £4,931 for the general works (from Mr. R. Neill), and to £1820. 8s. for the boilers, pipes, and similar ironwork (from Messrs, Melling and Son of Rainhill); the ultimate costs, perhaps reaching to £8,000; and arrangements were made for the supply of water at the rate of 3d. per 1,000 gallons. The establishment was opened in the summer of 1856; and the receipts immediately that exceeded the most sanguine expectations. Before the end of the year 18,500 bathers and 7,700 washers had availed themselves of the establishment.

The Mayfield Baths and Wash-houses, opened in the beginning of last year, were tendered for by Mr Neil at the sum of £6,407, exclusive of ironwork; but an additional outlay of £940, occurred unexpectedly in the foundations, half of which, as well as the cost of a bridge over the Medlock, was defrayed by the vendors of the land. The actual cost may have been £10,000, inclusive of the engineering work by Messrs, Melling, which cost about £2,500. The ground here, 1,644 square yards, cost 9d per yard.

It has been expected that the revenue from these two concerns will amount to £1,400 a year; and fulfil the object of their promoters, by demonstrating the capability of such undertakings to return as lease 5 per cent. In every point of view, the circumstances of the success of the two establishments have been remarkable.

The washing Department in Greengate, which it had been anticipated, could hardly pay expenses, has turned out to be not only self-supporting, but interest paying.

The scene in the plunge baths, on the opening of Mayfield, must have been as remarkable, almost, as could be witnessed.  Lamp-glasses were broken; other damage was done to fittings; and some persons, we may supposed, charged the class for whose benefit the place was intended, with being unable to appreciate and use it. The fact, however, was the reverse. The attendance themselves believe that any damage was the result of the exuberant delight of the people – in 2,000 – most of them lads, and of the novelty to them of means of ablution. Both establishments are now working well: the only difficulty is to provide for the members that come at certain times – as on Saturday nights – and to get the people out. Mr Wm. Fairbairn is reported as given the opinion at the first meeting of the shareholders that the London establishments were not to be compared with the Greengate Baths and Washhouses then opened.

The Mayfield Baths and Washhouses certainly deserve commendation. The contrivances in all the previous places of the kind have been carefully studied; the best details of arrangement have been chosen or designed, and architectural effort is obtained inexpensively. The main front, in red brick and stone, has some novelty in the treatment of the window-heads and consoles, and in the adaptation of the wide double-bracket cornices of Florentine buildings. The chimney-shaft (illustrated in the Builder, vol xv 1857 p. 215) which serves both for a smoke-flue and a vapour-shaft, also belongs to the Florentine school of art. The plunge-bath, first class (the second class is similar), is remarkable for general effect, and for the manner of the combination of the wood and iron work of its construction. The architect evidently understands the use of iron, and the proper methods of joining casting together; and by allowing each material and member to express its structural office, and adding a few bold but simple decorative features, as pendants, railings, and lamp-brackets, he has succeeded in producing a happy effect.

Two tiers of columns carry transverse girders, which are formed in the manner of diagonal bracing, and project, supported by brackets, in one case to carry the Gallery, and in the other, they arched timber principles of the roof. The ordinary and ornamental ironwork at Mayfield was executed by Messrs. E.T. Belhurst and Co. and that at Greengate by Mr. Kitchin.

The Builder 14 August 1858 Mayfield Baths First Class Plunge Construction Detail

The light at Mayfield is admitted through sloping sides occupying the space above, in the transverse section, corresponding with the overhanging of the bracket and girders beyond the line of columns, and 6 or 7 feet in height up to the slope of the ordinary roof covering.

In the Greengate Baths, skylights in the roof are used. Opinions vary as to the relative advantages of the methods.

The private baths are on the upper level, reached from the gallery; the dressing boxes for the bathers in the plunge bath being below.

For ventilation there are four small louvres in the roof, and an opening in the wall at each end. These are not found sufficient.

The sides of the bath are covered with blue and white tiles, finished with an ornamental border.

The bottom is laid with Yorkshire flags, an arrangement which appears to be the best that has been suggested, tiles there being liable to get loose and cut the feet; and glazed bricks, if cheap enough, it is thought would be too white for water which, as at present supplied, is said to deposit a small amount of vegetable matter. The appearance of discoloration in the water which there is now – from whatever cause arising – is to be regretted. Some little difficulty, we believe, is found in the action of the water on the ironwork.

The drying apparatus in the washing department appears to act efficiently. Small articles are dried in fifteen minutes, and half an hour serves for almost anything.

The length of the plunge-bath at Mayfield is 63 feet, and that of the bath at Greengate is 53 feet; and in each case the width is 25 feet.

The architect of these buildings has lately prepared drawings for an establishment about Bing commenced in the public gardens at Gothenburg.

Facts within our knowledge, but which it is scarcely possible to place before our readers have impressed us, even more strongly than before, with the feeling of the values and imperative necessity for a very large provision of baths for the use of the class of operatives in such a town as Manchester. The wants of any class in London would seem to be even small in comparison.

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