Manchester – Mayfield Baths

Acknowledgements

This material has been complied though the co-operation of Phil Henstock and Andy Coutts.

Phil Henstock, former Manager with Manchester City Council Recreational Services & Local History enthusiast, has provided access to the unpublished records and work of Mr. Albert Teasdale (M.N.A.B.S.). Mr Teasdale served with Manchester City Council’s Baths and Laundries Department for almost 50 years. For twenty-five years he held the office of General Superintendent of the Department. In 1932 Mr Teasdale became the twelfth person to hold the position of National President of The National Association of Bath Superintendents.

Andy Coutts, Salford Archaeology, provided the impetus to prepare the material and offered valuable insights following the excavations made of Mayfield Baths in 2020.

Background

Mayfield Baths was the second to be built by the Manchester & Salford Baths & Laundries Company, which was incorporated in 1855. The company provided three establishments. These being;

Greengate Baths opened 27th August 1856 at a cost of £9,913 1s 7d exclusive of the land.

Mayfield Baths opened 24th June 1857 at a cost of £11,418 12s 11d exclusive of the land

Leaf Street Baths opened 1860

The Architect responsible for the design or all three establishments was Thomas Worthington (1828 – 1909).

 At the time of construction the establishment contained a Males First Class Swimming Bath and a Males Second Class Swimming Bath, Private Wash Baths (Slipper Baths) and a small Wash House. In 1866 another swimming Pool was erected on a plot of land on the opposite side of the street to the existing buildings and called ‘A Women’s Swimming Bath’. The Wash House was closed down due to a lack of patronage. In 1924 owing to the gradual reduction in the number of bathers attending the ‘Women’s Swimming Pool’ was closed and converted into a modern Public Wash House with more up-to-date appliances.

The Mayfield Baths and Leaf Street Baths were purchased by Manchester City Council in September 1877 for the sum of £19,000.

Further reconstruction works were subsequently carried out.

A Wash House was added by the City Council and opened 7th April 1924.

Mayfield Baths were bombed in 1940 and subsequently demolished.

Mayfield Baths Exterior A Source Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive

 

Mayfield Baths Exterior (2) Source Manchester Libraries

Initial Construction

The following is taken from the second report of the Directors of the Manchester and Salford baths and Laundries Company.

‘The land upon which the Mayfield establishment is erected was purchased upon chief, and is subject to the payment of a rent of £68.12s.6d. per annum. When the erection of this establishment was commenced, the foundations were found to be of an unsatisfactory character, and considerable expense has to be incurred; but your Directors think it only due to the vendors of the land (Messrs. Neild, Binyon and Compton) to remind the Shareholders that so soon as they were informed of the additional expense which would be necessarily incurred in obtaining satisfactory foundations, they generously undertook to contribute one moiety of the extra expense which amounted to, and thereby saved the Company the sum of £337.’

It was also reported that there had been problems with leakage from the swimming baths;

‘Much difficulty also has been experienced from the leakage of the Swimming-baths of both establishments, which caused both labour and loss, from their having been rendered unserviceable during a considerable portion of the summer. The loss was also sustained from excessive delay on the part of the contractor for tiling the second class swimming Bath at Greengate, and both the Swimming Baths at Mayfield. In addition, there was a further loss of about £100. at the Mayfield establishment, as the consequence of the damage done the flood that occurred in August last. It is necessary that these drawbacks should be kept in view when considering the account of Receipts and Expenditure of both establishments.’

Mayfield Baths 2nd Class Swimming Bath Empty Source Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive

The Builder 14th August 1858

The Builder 14th August 1858 Image of Original Article

An article published in The Builder 14th August 1858 provides the following;

 ‘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 Builder 14th August 1858 Text of Original Article

Mayfield Baths First Class Swimming Bath 1902 Source Manchester Libraries

Swimming Pool Tank Finishes

The article also describes how the Greengate Swimming Baths was finished and describes issues with the discolouration of the water. The arrangement at Mayfield appears to have been identical.

‘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.’

Report of the Manchester and Salford Baths and Laundries Company 1858

‘The Mayfield establishment has been completed during the year and was opened on the 24th June Last. The number of bathers from that period to 31st December last, a period of six months only, – has been 41,885 and the number of Washers 4,375; whilst the total receipts have amounted to £618.2.4d and the expenditure to £525.19.11d’

It is anticipated that the current working expenses will be hereafter considerably reduced; and your Director estimate that they will not exceed £800 per annum for each establishment.’

Charges Levied

Greengate Baths Scale of Charges 1st September 1856 Source Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive

Purchase by Manchester Corporation

Following the purchase of the establishment by Manchester Corporation the Baths Committee undertook to retain the services of the old manager and matron for a period of one year. This was due to them having given good service to the Company.

An advertisement was subsequently placed for a Master and Matron, Mayfield Baths

Advertisement for Mayfield Baths Master and Matron Mayfield Baths Source Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive

1877

Mr J. Hunt appointed as first Superintendent of Mayfield Baths.

1881

A swimming Teacher allowed to use Mayfield Baths to give tuition in physical education to both Males and Females.

Joseph Derbyshire engaged as attendant at the Mayfield Baths, promoted to Superintendent of Mayfield and transferred to Osborne Street as Superintendent, and eventually made General Superintendent of the whole of Manchester Baths in 1896.

1882

The Public Wash House at Mayfield Baths closed down at the end of August owing to the abuse by small laundresses. Re-opened as a Central Establishment Laundry for the washing of Bath Towels at a later date.

Tender for advertising on the Mayfield Baths building of £10 per annum from Manchester Guardian accepted.

1885

Mr. & Mrs. J. Derbyshire appointed Master and Matron at the Mayfield Baths at a joint salary of £380 per annum plus residence, coal, gas and water.

First central establishment Laundry equipped at Mayfield Baths for the purpose of washing towels, costumes, etc. required at other baths.

1886

Mr. O. Wood appointed Manager at Mayfield Baths.

The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust 1918

The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust ‘The Report on Public Baths and Wash-Houses in the United Kingdom’ by Agnes Campbell B.A. 1918 provides a listing for Mayfield Baths.

Swimming Baths
63ft x 24ft
55ft x 30ft (Females only)

Slipper & Spray Baths
Male 39
Female 21

Vapour Bath

Continued Investment into Mayfield Baths 1905 to 1932

Manchester Corporation continued to undertake repairs and make improvements to the establishment.

Mayfield Baths Improvements and Repairs Source Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive

Report to the Baths Committee August 1937

A report to the Baths Committee dated 13th August 1937 makes reference to Mayfield Baths as a response to suggestion to close various establishments. The report states:

‘Built in the year 1856 by the Manchester and Salford Laundries Co. and purchased in 1877 by the corporation from the said company, the accommodation being 2 swimming pools, private wash and slipper Baths with a small wash house attached. In the year 1866 another swimming pool was erected on a plot of land on the opposite side of the street to the existing buildings, and called “A women’s Swimming Bath”. A short period elapsed from the date of the original purchase, before the Wash House was closed down owing to lack of patronage. In 1924 owing to the general reduction in the number of bathers attending the “Women’s Swimming Pool” this was closed and converted in to a modern Public Wash House with up-to-date appliances.’

Public Wash-House

Mayfield Baths Opening of Public Wash House Source Manchester Libraries

Mayfield Baths Pubic Wash House Source Manchester Libraries

Police Reports                           

Police Reports indicate that the baths were the subject of interesting events.

Mayfield Baths Prosecution of Charles Watkin for assault October 1887 Source Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive

Mayfield Baths Report from Constable. 60 John Bell December 1892 Source Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive

Water Treatment – ‘Fill and Empty’

The records show expenditure being incurred by the City Council on Filtration plant in 1913 and 1914. Also shown is expenditure on Chlorination Plant in 1932.

When the establishment was constructed it would not have had a swimming pool water filtration plant installed. The first experimental swimming pool water filtration and aeration plant in Manchester was installed into Newton Heath Baths 1903.

The Mayfield Baths would have operated on the ‘Fill and Empty’ system. Clean water would have been added to the baths and a 1st Class charge would have applied. As the water became dirty the water from the 1st class plunge would be transferred into the second class swimming bath.

This arrangement was reflected in the charges levied by the Manchester and Salford Baths and Laundries Company. The charges at 1st September 1856 were;

Large Tepid Swimming Bath

First Class 6d

Second Class 2d

 Swimming Bath Water Heating

The images of the Swimming Baths at Mayfield Baths clearly show the original direct steam heating arrangement. As the swimming Bath was being filled steam would have been injected directly into the plunge bath thought pipes located at the deep end.

Large Circular Opening to Iron Pipe

The images also show the circular opening of an iron pipe in the side walls of both swimming baths. This was probably used to fill and possibly empty the plunge baths.

Mayfield Baths Swimming Bath Showing Circular Iron Pipe Opening and Direct Steam Injection Pipework

Archaeological Excavations

During 2020 The Mayfield Partnership began work on a new 6.5 acre public park and the remains of Mayfield Baths were uncovered. A team of archaeologists from the University of Salford led by Andy Radford, Site Supervisor, Salford Archaeology, excavated the site. Some Victorian tiles from the building were preserved to be incorporated into the new park.

The archaeologists used 3D scanning and low level drone photography to produce an accurate, detailed record of the findings which are to be combined with historical documents and CAD software to produce digital drawings for the ‘preservation record’.

Web links

Mayfield Baths New Store Street Ardwick – Building | Architects of Greater Manchester (manchestervictorianarchitects.org.uk)

Public Baths, Collier Street, Greengate, Salford – Building | Architects of Greater Manchester (manchestervictorianarchitects.org.uk)

Leaf Street Baths, Hulme – Building | Architects of Greater Manchester (manchestervictorianarchitects.org.uk)

Thomas Worthington – Architect | Architects of Greater Manchester (manchestervictorianarchitects.org.uk)

great-lengths-greengate-baths-salford-p46-47.pdf (playedinbritain.co.uk)

Former Public Baths, Ordsall, Salford – Photo “Greengate Baths” (britishlistedbuildings.co.uk)

The Builder – Google Books Pages 544 – 557

Mayfield story so far | Mayfield (mayfieldmanchester.co.uk)

Salford Archaeology

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11 Responses to “Manchester – Mayfield Baths”

  1. Alan James Godson says:

    My memories are of Gorton baths and washhouse next to Bellevue. There were also what we called wash baths where you could get s hot bath. The architecture was identical to that at Mayfield. The attendants were Tom in second class and Marie in first and mixed bathing.

  2. Matthew Baines says:

    This is fascinating to me. My great great grandfather William Bain died of bronchitus, aged 27, on Bond Street, which is just next to this bathhouse. His occupation was india rubber worker. So I am in no doubt that he used these public baths. Amazing!

  3. Submitting second image as seems can only submit one at a time

  4. Hi all

    Interesting to see your memories of this fascinating building.

    I’m attaching two images – one showing the location of Mayfield Baths on a 1927 map and the other the current aerial view with the original site of the building marked, showing the car park referred to by Phil
    The 1927 map shows Tipping Street which is no longer there, built over by the Mancunian Way, and Nether Street which is still there. Boardman Street and Stove Street are now renamed Baring Street.
    I will take a look next time I am there to see if any sign of the Baths remain.

  5. Edward Gill says:

    I am now 88 years of age and remember well my mother doing the family washing at Mayfield Wash-house in the 1930s; I also learned to swim at the Mayfield Swimming Pool. We lived nearby on Tipping Street, a long straight street running from Downing Street to the Fairfield railway arches. It was another world when most families like ours suffered from a deep poverty of the purse – but not of the mind. In those days, we were truly all in it together. Yes, we were poor – very poor, but I think we were enriched by the experience.

    • Julie Climpson says:

      Dear Edward
      I came across your post when trying to find out more about an image I’d seen for Mayfield baths. Some of my maternal ancestors were born and lived in the Mayfield area. Were the baths on London Road? They look very grand.
      Hope you see my post and look forward to hearing from you.

      • Phil Hamblet says:

        Hi Julie,

        The baths appeared to be in between what is now Baring Street and Nether Street. The site is now just a car park, but some remains of the baths foundations may still exist underneath. The OS co-ordinates are 385028 397559. Nearest postcode M1 2PY – the rear car park of Bottle Candle Co.

        • Julie Climpson says:

          Thank you for replying to my message. I can now picture where the building was.

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