Community Events: Withington Baths Centenary

Painting of Withington Baths (1983) by R. J. Burgess. 
Copyright: Mark Watson (reproduction), R. J. Burgess (original)

Withington Baths Centenary Celebrations 1911-2011

Withington Baths has a foundation stone dated 11th November 1911. A centenary celebration was held on 12th November 2011. It was a gloriously sunny autumn afternoon, the Baths had been decorated by the staff with birthday banners and balloons, some staff were dressed in period costume and served refreshments to the Baths' users.

The afternoon celebrations started with the cutting of a birthday cake by Councillor Mike Amesbury. This was followed with a talk by Sue McCarthy (of Tour Manchester), introduced by Roger Smith of Withington Civic Society. Sue talked about the history of Withington, the history of swimming pools and the history of Withington Baths itself. The turnout was tremendous with over 80 in the audience. The talk was well received and generated considerable discussion. As a bonus, several members of the audience with particular knowledge of the Baths gave short presentations. Alan Maher, who used to live in a flat above the Baths when his father was a manager of the Baths in the 1930s and 1940s, shared some of his memories with us. Mark Watson talked about the engineering history of the Baths and brought along a painting of the Baths (reproduced above). The staff of the Baths donated a large birthday cake and Alan Maher was invited to cut the cake. Finally, Brian Greenwood, one of the managers, offered guided tours of the Baths. In all, this was a splendid occasion, a fitting birthday for the Baths and a fine exercise in living history - bringing the past to the present.

For details of the Baths' history, see the History Tour. For photographs of the exterior and interior, see the Gallery.

Withington Civic Society would like to thank all those who made this celebration a success: all the staff of the Baths, including the managers Brian Greenwood, Harry Johnson and Tony Kirwan; Clare Goatman of Manchester Sport and Leisure Trust for her support, help in organising and providing equipment; Gillian Harwood, of Serco, who helped with organisation and the provision of cakes; Sue McCarthy, a Green Badge Guide with Tour Manchester, for her talk and her enthusiasm for local history. Cakes and refreshments were provided by the staff of the Baths, Martins Bakery and by Alma Davies. To mark the occasion, Amy Glendinning contributed a long article on the history of the Baths to the South Manchester Reporter.

Click on the pictures below for larger versions.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, with family, cutting a birthday cake to star
t the afternoon proceedings
Birthday crowds outside the baths

A member of staff in period costume
Sue McCarthy before her talk on the history of Withington and the Baths
Some of the audience
Alan Maher, whose father was a manager at the Baths, in what was once his childhood bedroom in a flat above the Baths
A birthday cake kindly donated by the staff of the Baths
Alan Maher cutting the cake, with some of the staff at the back and their birthday decorations

The original plans for the Baths, designed by the Manchester City Architect, Henry Price: