Manchester – Dolphin Baths Horrocks, Red Bank 1836 – 1858

Carl Evans MSc Founder of the Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive. Past President of the Institute of Sport & Recreation Management. Publications: Health & Fitness Centres – A Guide to their Management & Operation Longmans 1992. Contributions to: Practical Leisure Centre Management Volume 2 Institute of Baths & Recreation Management. Articles to Recreation and Leisure Manager Journals.

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Dolphin Baths Hargreaves Street, Horrocks, near Red Bank Manchester 1836 to 1858

The Dolphin Baths was advertised in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser as being opened from Monday 23rd May 1836[i].

DOLPHIN BATHS, HORROCKS, RED BANK

These baths, which have been erected, without regard to expense so that they offer every accommodation to the Public, will be OPENED on MONDAY the 23rd May.

At this moment, when the rage for Public Baths is of no common character – when the wish to promote the health and comfort of the inhabitants of this great metropolis of trade, by the erection of Public Baths, has led to the erection contemplated of so many, it might perhaps be saying too much to assert that these baths possess advantages over all others: but the proprietors may at least in many respects challenge competition.

In the first place the water is raised more than one hundred yards out of the earth; its consequent purity and brilliancy cannot be surpassed; it has been carefully analysed by an eminent chemist, who reports its contents to consist of nothing but the most healthy and bracing qualities.

So far then as comfort and luxury go, the proprietors confidently calculate on public support.

The Best Bath is 31 yards long by 17 yards wide, is fitted up with private dressing rooms and every other convenience, and is increasing in depth form 3ft 6 inches to 7 feet.

The charge for this is only 6d each.

For the other bath of equal size, without dressing-rooms, but in every other respect similar to the upper one is only 3d.

The Dolphin Baths will open at five o’clock in the morning and close as eight o’clock in the evening, on every day except Sunday, when they will be open from five till eight o’clock in the morning only.

Horrocks, near Red Bank, May 13th 1836

Location

Advertisements state that the establishment is located in Horrocks, Red Bank and Hargreaves Street.

Dolphin Baths Hargreaves Street Red Bank University of Manchester Forgotten maps of Manchester slums restored Registration Sub-District Market Street Sanitary District No. 1

A more detailed map from 1851[ii] show the Baths positioned between two reservoirs with access from Great Horrocks and Hargreaves Street and behind Clemson & Vaughan Dye Works.

Dolphin Baths Location The University of Manchester Adshead’s twenty four illustrated maps of the township of Manchester : divided into municipal wards : corrected to the 1st. May, 1851.
Publisher: Adshead, Joseph, 1800-1861

The Slater’s Directory 1850 identify Vaughan & Clemson as the proprietors of the Baths[iii].

DOLPHIN BATHS (warm, cold, and swimming), Hargreaves St. Red Bank – Vaughan & Clemson, proprietors

Quality of the Spring Water Opening of a Ladies Bath

Advertisements from 1836 to 1843 emphasised the quality of the ‘spring water’.

In 1837 an advertisement described the proximity of the dressing rooms to the ‘Best Bath’ and mentioned the ‘Ladies Bath’[iv].

Manchester & Salford Advertiser – Saturday 27 May 1837

DOLPHIN BATHS, RED BANK.- The Proprietors of these baths, grateful for the patronage hitherto bestowed, beg leave to inform the inhabitants of Manchester and Salford, that they have recently repaired, beautified, and much Improved them : and have spared no expense to render them in every respect comfortable and convenient.

The water has been analysed by an eminent chemist, who thus expressed his opinion of its qualities:- “I find the water with which your baths are supplied to be very good, and to contain intimately less sulphate of lime than any spring water in the neighbourhood, and quite free from iron; an advantage which renders it still more suitable for the purpose of bathing.”

To say more of the purity and excellent qualities of the water, after so valuable an opinion, would be needless; the proprietors have only to add, that, throughout the season, the water is kept to the most agreeable temperature, and can be varied to suite the wishes of the bathers.

The dressing rooms of these baths are so constructed that the bathers can dive imperceptibly from them into the water.

The Ladies’ bath is neatly fitted up, and can be supplied with warm or cold water in space of one minute.

The Dolphin baths are not supplied with filtered water, but by pure spring water, with ingress and egress continually.

The above BATHS ARE NOW OPEN to the public

Directory Listings 1837 and 1838

The establishment is listed in Drake’s Road Book of the Grand Junction Railway 1837[v] and two other Railway Guides in 1838 [vi] (Freeling’s Grand Junction Railway Companion to Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. Arthur Freeling; The Iron Road Book and Railway Companion from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool Frances Coghlan) as;

Dolphin Cold Baths, Horrocks, Red Bank

Gradual Development

By1843 the ‘Cold Baths’ had developed to provide warm, shower, cold and swimming baths available to both sexes. The medicinal benefits of bathing in the spring water; ‘procured from springs only, at a depth of 130 feet from the surface of the earth’ was a significant selling point[vii].

During 1841 advertisements placed a focus on the invalid and convalescent’ and described the availability of warm and shower baths attached both for ladies and gentlemen, which can be prepared at five minutes’ notice.’[viii]

In 1843 the establishment advertised seasonal opening of ‘These Salubrious Springs’ and included mention of; ‘exercising in the manly art of Swimming, and luxuriating in the pleasure of a pure stream.’ It may be that some form of vapour or steam bath had been installed. The water is said to come from springs ‘which discharge 275 gallons of water per minute,’ and ‘that possess ‘medicinal qualities, ….found efficacious to persons afflicted with Rheumatism and other pains in the limbs’.

The temperature the water is reported to be from 65 to 70 degrees with Warm Baths being available as required. The establishment was opened from 5am to 9pm with a charge of 6d with season tickets also available.

The quality of the water had been emphasised during 1837 by independent analysis; “I find the water which your baths are supplied, to be very good and to contain infinitely less sulphate of lime than any other spring water in the neighbourhood, and quite free from iron an advantage which renders it still more suitable for bathing.”[ix] This was again emphasised in advertisements during 1843 and the analysis attributed to Dr. Dalton[x] who identified the water as being; the purest in the neighbourhood.’

Opening of a School

In 1844 a report notified readers that a school was opened in connection with Saint Thomas’s in a temporary room above the Dolphin Baths ‘almost entirely through the exertions of a working man’. This was a ‘branch of the Poor Man’s Church’.[xi]

Reduction in size of advertisements

Advertisements continued to appear from 1853 to 1858, however their size reduces and they are not descriptive as had been the case in previous announcements. For example the May1850 advertisement[xii] read as follows;

THE DOLPHIN SWIMMING BATHS, Hargreaves Street, red Bank. The above will OPEN on Wednesday next the 15th of May.

Professor of Swimming

During 1853 ‘A PROFESSOR of the Art of SWIMMING’ was advertised as being in attendance at the baths to provide lessons.[xiii]

Letter to the Editor 1856

A letter appeared in the Manchester Daily Examiner & Times – (Thursday 25 September 1856) that makes interesting reading[xiv] and suggests that the area of Red Bank was not the most attractive or inviting area to visit.

Letter to the editor

THE OLD DOLPHIN BATH

 To the Editor of the Examiner and Times.

Sir—As the question of public baths is now in agitation, I would beg to call the attention of your numerous readers to the Old Dolphin Baths, in Red Bank, the water of which is far superior to anything of the kind near Manchester, as ‘the analyses of the late Dr. Dalton and other scientific men sufficiently demonstrate, and to suggest to the proprietors of the above the desirability of carrying the water from them up to the front of Cheetham Hill Road.

I feel persuaded that if this plan were adopted, together with a few warm baths, &c., so as to enable them to keep open through the winter, it would be an undertaking both beneficial to the public and largely remunerative to the proprietors, as the excellent quality of the water must become appreciated, only the present neighbourhood of Red Bank is such an objection to respectable persons visiting them.

They are supplied, I believe, by spring water, up some hundred feet.

I would also suggest that the tepid swimming bath at the new establishment, Collier Street, Greengate, is much too small, and becomes inconvenient when more than three or four persons are bathing together. Perhaps this will be improved upon in the new baths about to be established In Stretford Road.

Apologising for thus trespassing on your valuable limits, I enclose my card, and am, sir, yours respectfully Health

The last advertisement found to date appeared in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 12 June 1858.

THE DOLPHIN SWIMMING BATHS are NOW OPEN, Hargreaves Street, Red Bank

Closure

The establishment may have continued to operate after the end of the 1858 season but no accounts have been found.

References

[i] DOLPHIN BATHS HORROCKS RED BANK Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 21 May 1836

[ii] The University of Manchester Adshead’s twenty four illustrated maps of the township of Manchester : divided into municipal wards : corrected to the 1st. May, 1851. Publisher: Adshead, Joseph, 1800-1861.

[iii] Slater, Isaac. Slater’s General and Classified Directory and Street Register of Manchester and Salford and Their Vicinities 1850 p.8

[iv] DOLPHIN BATHS , RED BANK Manchester & Salford Advertiser – Saturday 27 May 1837

[v] Drake, James. Drake’s Road Book of the Grand Junction Railway (James Drake 1837) p.134

[vi] Freeling, Arthur Freeling’s Grand Junction Railway Companion to Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham 1838 p.166. Coghlan, Frances The Iron Road Book and Railway Companion from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool 1838 p.146

[vii] DOLPHIN SWIMMING BATHS HORROCKS, RED BANK Manchester & Salford Advertiser – Saturday 04 May 1839

[viii] DOLPHIN SWIMMING BATHS, Horrocks. Red Bank Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 08 May 1841

[ix] DOLPHIN BATHS, RED BANK Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 20 May 1837

[x] TO THE LOVERS of HEALTH AND ADMIRERS OF CLEANLINESS  Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 06 May 1843

[xi] ECCLESIASTICAL INTELLIGENCE Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 29 June 1844

[xii] THE DOLPHIN SWIMMING BATHS Manchester Times – Saturday 11 May 1850

[xiii] THE DOLPHIN SWIMMING BATHS A PROFESSOR of the Art of SWIMMING Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 28 May 1853

[xiv] Letter to the editor THE OLD DOLPHIN BATHS Manchester Daily Examiner & Times – Thursday 25 September 1856

 

 

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