With hundreds of stained glass pieces, the six-metre-high ‘Windmill Window’ will cost £20,000 to repair
It’s known as Manchester’s ‘Water Palace’ for a reason: amongst Victoria Baths’ many ornate features are over 100 stained glass windows, highly unusual for a municipal pool.
But restoration of the Grade II listed complex comes at a cost - £20,000 in the case of one particularly intricate window, which has fallen into disrepair. Ouch.
Closed in 1993, Victoria Baths is now gradually being returned to its original Edwardian splendour; bolstered by community support, heritage grants and a lively fundraising calendar. Works to the roof, front entrances and windows in the Gala Pool have already been completed thanks to the Friends membership scheme, events and hire - plus location shoots for the likes of Cold Feet and Peaky Blinders.
But sometimes extra help is needed, as in the case of the ‘Windmill Window’. Standing six metres high, this is one of two enormous stained glass windows that stand either side of the former male second-class pool (now known as the Sports Hall). While work on the first is now underway thanks to a generous pledge from supporter John Lucas, the Baths only have half of the £20,000 needed to restore the second; hence an urgent crowdfunding campaign.
Depicting pastoral scenes, a popular Edwardian theme, the ‘Windmill Window’ contains hundred of glass panes - most of them original - in many colours and textures. However, the lead strips between the panes have deteriorated, the wooden frame is rotten and there are broken and missing panes that need replacing. As well as aesthetic preservation, its repair will ensure the Sports Hall - a location for many events at Victoria Baths - remains weather-proof and watertight for hundreds of years to come.
Now live, the Amazing Glazing crowdfunder offers several rewards, spanning guided tours to tea parties and Friends membership.
Amy Lewis, Trustee of Victoria Baths Trust, said: “Victoria Baths stands as one of the most iconic buildings in Manchester thanks to the people who campaigned to save it, and it's the public and our community who have been with us at every step of our restoration journey ever since. The work to restore this window has now become urgent, which is why we are asking for an extra helping hand. And everyone who gets involved knows that, by supporting Amazing Glazing, they will also be playing a part in securing the future of Victoria Baths.”
Of his pledge to restore the Sports Hall’s other glass window, supporter John Lucas said: “I’ve really enjoyed watching the work in progress...when the sun shines through the newly completed windows, it’s a wonderful feeling. I’d recommend that everyone who loves Victoria Baths gets involved with this crowdfunder, you’ll really enjoy helping to restore one of Manchester’s landmark heritage buildings. And ‘your’ window will be here for you and others to enjoy for many years to come.”
Victoria Baths, in Chorlton-on-Medlock, was designed as a prestigious baths complex by Manchester's first city architect Henry Price, and opened by Manchester Corporation in 1906. The Baths was closed in 1993 and local people have been working to save it for public use ever since.
In September 2003, Victoria Baths won the BBC’s landmark series Restoration with a massive 282,018 votes. Consequently, the Heritage Lottery Fund earmarked £3 million and the BBC’s Restoration Fund raised nearly £500,000 for the restoration of its Turkish Baths. English Heritage has also supported the project.
The Victoria Baths trust runs weekly guided tours and weekend events for the public from April to November, and group tours by arrangement. Other staple events include the Vintage Home Show, Village Screen film screenings and the Independent Manchester Beer Convention.