Manchester – New Islington Baths

Manchester City Council purchased the Mayfield and Leaf Street Baths from the Manchester and Salford Baths and Laundries Company in 1877.

The Baths & Wash Houses Committee subsequently decided to obtain a site in Ancoats for the construction of a new baths establishment.

This was to become the first Municipal Bathing Establishment erected by the Baths & Wash Houses Committee of the City of Manchester.

A plot of land was purchased for the sum of £7,431 and 2 shillings. This site was bounded by New Islington, Baker Street, Horn Street and the passage at the back of houses in Pott Street.

The area of the site was 2,246 5/9th square yards.

The new building was to include the following:

Males 1st Class Swimming Bath – 90ft x 30ft varied in depth from 3ft to 5ft 6ins. 56 dressing boxes were arranged around the side of the bath.

18 Private porcelain Wash Baths were provided on the gallery above the Swimming Bath with divisions made of enamelled slate.

Males 2nd Class Swimming Bath – 109ft x 30ft with 82 dressing boxes.
36 Private Baths were provided on the gallery

Small Female Swimming Pond 44ft x 14ft

Waiting Rooms for each set of Baths

18 Private Wash Baths for Females with waiting room

Wash House with 20 Stalls

Central Wash House and Laundry for the establishments own washing of towels

Superintendent’s residence

Engine and Boiler House

Engineers Work Shop

In addition two Public Halls were included one at ground floor and the second built above this on the first floor.

The memorial stone was laid 14th December 1878 by Councillor Thomas Bright who was the first chairman of the Baths & Wash Houses Committee.
The building was opened 1st May 1880 by Alderman Patteson, Mayor of Manchester.

Management of the two Public Halls were transferred to the Town Hall Committee in 1911.

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15 Responses to “Manchester – New Islington Baths”

  1. Jim lawson says:

    I recall having gas at the dentist which was part of that clinic horrible taste . The best part of the baths was the hot cup of oxtail soup afterwards. A previous post what did we do with the clothes they were just left in the changing rooms after one hour the superintendent would hang some item of your clothing or towel over the doors which meant times up go home. I got the free pass for swimming a length and the Ribena badge for retreiving a rubber brick from the deep end in pyjamas When did it close down?

  2. David says:

    I am sure these were the baths in Ancoats used by Manchester Canoe Club in the 1960s and early 1970s for their weekly club night. One pool was used for beginners, and the one with the gallery was for slalom training – we used to have three sets of wooden slalom poles hung along the pool on ropes tied onto the gallery railings each side of the pool to train. A few kayaks for beginners were stored on at the end wall of the gallery.

  3. cecilia liardo says:

    Also,could I ask where in Ancoats/New Islington was it?

  4. Paul says:

    I remember going to new Issy baths for swimming lessons in the mid seventies from primary school in Collyhurst. Never forgot the cockroaches in the pool and the cold changing cubicles, but a lot of fun each week learning to swim. Great memories!!

    Paul

    • cecilia liardo says:

      Hi Paul!

      I’m doing some research on leisure spaces in Ancoats in the past, and I would love to ask you some questions 🙂

      1. which word comes to mind when thinking about your time at New Islington Baths?

      2. When you were a kid, was it common to swim in the canal?

      3. do you believe that space created an opportunity for the community to be closer?

      4. if you had one wish for Ancoats/New Islington, what would it be?

      Thank you in advance 🙂

      Cecilia

      • James Lawson says:

        Q1. Washhouse
        2. No , canal then was a dump impossible to swim there
        3.yes
        4. Greener

        • walter jackson says:

          as kids we would swim in the 7 wonders off Phillips Park Road behind the Bakery this was in the 60s and 70s and would be after the last lock before the long route down to Ancoats Hospital i travelled there on foot from ledge and star ave.

  5. robert burton says:

    I remember comming here once a week with my brothers. We lived on George leigh street. The weekly routine was my mam with one of those coach built prams loaded to the top with the weekly washing, making here way through the streets to New Issy wash house. We went into swim while mam did the weekly wash. Going into the wash house after the swim was scary to get some money for sweets- Big women with a “fag” dangling from there mouths and head scarves would give you a row. All good humoured. It was a great meeting house for the local mothers. A lot of the time we went into the baths and straight out again and played on the canal and the derelict houses. Are kid fell in the canal one time and nearly drowned, mam couldn’t understand how he could not swim after 2 years of going to the baths!!Tough but happy days

    • cecilia liardo says:

      Hi Robert 🙂
      As I previously commented on Paul’s post, I’d like to ask you, too.

      I’m doing some research on leisure spaces in Ancoats in the past, and I would love to ask you some questions 🙂

      1. which word comes to mind when thinking about your time at New Islington Baths?

      2. When you were a kid, was it common to swim in the canal?

      3. do you believe that space created an opportunity for the community to be closer?

      4. if you had one wish for Ancoats/New Islington, what would it be?

      Thank you in advance 🙂

      Cecilia

  6. New Isinglington Baths Manchester.
    Memories !
    I lived in Ancoats from 1958 to 1968 and as a young boy went to New Isinglinton baths on many occasion. I learnt to swin at the baths not through lessons but following what my elder brother and his friends were doing. We would go to the baths at least twice a week and more often in the school holidays. Interesting to see the photos of the baths and while I remember the changing rooms either side of the poo, but can’t remember what we did with out belongings once we had changed.

    For any one who would have used the pool in the mid 50s to the early 60s will remember Polish Joe the pool side attendant. Famous for his reminder to all of washy washy before entering the pool.
    I think once you had swum a length of the pool unaided you were awarded a free pass to use the baths.

    • Lorraine Bancroft O’Neill says:

      I remember well both the clinic at New Islington and the swimming baths
      The clinic dealt with warts varuccas and you would often see kids who had purple or orange heads after being treated for head lice. No respect for feelings back then 🙁
      The pool had hot tubs which we would all try to cram in as the pool was freezing Quite often we shared it with cockroaches Polish Joe would fish them out with a huge net and say” Smacky bum bum “ if we didn’t get out when told to 🙂
      Happy days back then. We had to wear swimming caps which were very tight and uncomfortable. I earned to swim just using white floats no instructors Did 25 Metres known as The length and I got a free pass as Frank said previously !!

      • cecilia liardo says:

        Hi Lorraine,
        I’m doing some research on leisure spaces in Ancoats in the past, and I would love to ask you some questions 🙂 Sorry for the copy and paste, I asked the others as well 🙂

        1. which word comes to mind when thinking about your time at New Islington Baths?

        2. When you were a kid, was it common to swim in the canal?

        3. do you believe that space created an opportunity for the community to be closer?

        4. if you had one wish for Ancoats/New Islington, what would it be?

        Thank you in advance 🙂

        Cecilia

        • Lorraine says:

          I think the word that comes to mind when thinking about New Islington baths is Happiness Although the baths were cold had cock roaches and shocking changing cubicles we all had good times there Learned how to swim and met friends there
          We regularly swam in the canal and rafted on there too. We would alternate between Butler street back of Holland street and the canal we all called the 7 wonders We would come out with leeches on us but it never deterred us. I honestly think we felt we were invincible then
          There was a very strong community in the 1960s even though it was the time of slum clearance. There was lots of pubs Ancoats and Ardwick lads clubs where a lot is us kids would go.
          I think my wish would have been for any building of character to be preserved For the community spirit to be maintained and for any new buildings to have reflected the rich history of Ancoats New Islington and the links to the Industrial revolution The large Irish and Italian population Sadly this has not been the outcome

    • cecilia liardo says:

      Hi George,

      I’m doing some research on leisure spaces in Ancoats in the past, and I would love to ask you some questions 🙂 I asked also to the people who commented on this again 🙂

      1. which word comes to mind when thinking about your time at New Islington Baths?

      2. When you were a kid, was it common to swim in the canal?

      3. do you believe that space created an opportunity for the community to be closer?

      4. if you had one wish for Ancoats/New Islington, what would it be?

      Thank you in advance 🙂

      Cecilia

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