Manchester – Harpurhey Baths

Harpurhey Baths was constructed by Manchester City Council at a cost of £39,495 and is located on Rochdale Road Manchester.
It was built during 1909 – 1910 and opened 29th October 1910.

Manchester City Council’s first architect Mr Henry Price designed the building.

The establishment had a similar external and internal appearance to Bradford Baths, Barmouth Street, Manchester.

The building was listed in 1994 and closed as a public swimming pool in 2001.

The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust Report on Public Baths and Wash-Houses in the United Kingdom By Agnes Campbell B. A. 1918 details the building as having the following:

Three swimming pools:
75ft x 25ft
75ft x 30ft
66ft x 25ft
48 Male Slipper Baths
18 Female Slipper Baths
Public Wash House with 40 stalls

A listing on the Historic England web site (Entry 1270790) shows Harpurhey Baths as being a Grade 2 listed building located on Rochdale Road:

‘Public baths and laundry. 1909-10. Red brick and buff terracotta, slate roofs. Large irregular plan, with entrance / office block at north-west corner, swimming pool to rear of this, and former laundry area to south, with tall chimney. Two-and-a-half storey entrance block in neo-Baroque style, 5 bays, with orange terracotta plinth, buff terracotta pilasters and mutule cornice, the 2nd and 4th bays with keyed round-headed arched doorways, cornices arched over them, and attic storeys with semi-circular open pediments; otherwise, round-headed windows at ground floor (glazing altered), 3-light sashes at 1st floor (except for 1-light sash in centre), and segmental-headed sashes in the 2 attics, all these windows with keyed terracotta surrounds and all the sashes with glazing bars in the upper leaves only. Hipped roof and side-wall chimneys with terracotta bands. Left return wall in similar but simpler style, linked by 3 short lower sections to gable end of swimming hall, which has glazed roof louvre. Interior: much original fitting and decoration in Art Nouveau style, including glazed tiling to entrance hall and staircase, copper commemoration plaque, galleried swimming pool hall with plunge-bath cubicles on gallery, most with original stained glass panels and some with original baths.’

An interesting video showing Harpurhey Baths after it was closed can be viewed below:

Harpurhey Baths Manchester Public Wash House Mangling & Ironing Room

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5 Responses to “Manchester – Harpurhey Baths”

  1. Ryan Corby says:

    Harpurhey Baths were fascinating in that the building was not built for that purpose but rather that the building was adapted. It was constructed by Manchester Corporation Tramways in the 1880’s and was a terminus depot for trams from Manchester. It contained horse drawn trams and stables.
    It was completely remodelled to become the baths about 1908 and given a terracotta frontage. A fantastic achievement.

  2. Charles Madders says:

    Harpurhey Baths is where I first learned to swim, when I was a pupil at Crosslee School during the war and up to about 1946 when I left at the age of 11 to go to Moston Lane School.
    We used to walk to the baths and back, no bus as I recall.
    Our instructor was a Mr Laverty and before going into the plunge, we had to wash our selves in one of two long narrow tiled troughs.
    Later when I was at Moston Lane School, I swam 20 lenths to gain a free pass to the baths and I still have the pass, and I still have a certicate for swimming my first 25yds when I was still at Crosslee, equal to the length of the bath.
    The free pass was issued by Manchester Corporation.
    Imagine it happening now?

  3. Brian Sharp says:

    I remember my mother sending my brother and me to use the public baths upstairs rather than fill up the tin bath at home. This was after the war around the late 1940’s.

  4. David Yeomans says:

    I remember it well Carl, and you. My name is David Yeomans and my father Walter was the manager in the 60s & 70s. He probably gave you the job

    My parents lived in the very large flat at the baths and I was actually born on the premises in 1964. What a fabulous place to grow up.

    Charley Farrow and Bernard Healey where the supervisors, Nellie in the ticket office. Clem and Eddie ran the wash house, and Jesse the wash Baths.

    I remember the long queues a kids in the summer holidays and the absolute din in the packed pools

    Great memories.

  5. Carl Evans says:

    I remember swimming at Harpurhey Baths every Saturday morning during the late 1960’s and being coached by Brian Evitts who was employed by Manchester City Council as a swimming teacher in the Education Department. I understand that Brian went on to found Pioneer 79 at Hynburn Sport Centre in 1979.

    In 1971 I was employed at the age of 17 at Harpurhey Baths in my first job as a lifeguard. At that time I recall the area manager being Mr Walter Yeomans who lived in the flat above the swimming baths with his wife and family.

    There were two supervisors Charlie and Brian Healey and several lifeguards; Terry, Jessie and Alf.

    During that same summer another lifeguard joined us for a time, David Seaman. David was an interesting character and later I saw him being interviewed on a news report during which he claimed to be a member of the British Army. Unfortunately David had been a psychiatric patient and lived a fantasy life. He subsequently decided to go to Norther Ireland and he was found dead allegedly shot by the IRA.

    I recall a happy summer at Harpurhey Baths where duties included; lifeguarding, wash bath attendant, cleaning the numerous brasses, mopping floors, scrubbing the pool sides and skimming the pools with a hose pipe to remove the accumulated scum from the surface. Later in my employment I went on to be an assistant area manager with an office at Harpurhey Baths.

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