Manchester Victorian baths uncovered under car park

Published
image copyrightMark Waugh
image captionMayfield Baths were the third public baths in Manchester

Remnants from one of the earliest Victorian bathhouses have been unearthed beneath a car park.

The "stunning" remains of Mayfield Baths, where mill workers took baths and washed their clothes, were found by archaeologists in Manchester.

They were uncovered during work to create the city's first public park in a century.

Archaeologists from the University of Salford said they were "amazed" at the condition of the ornate tiles.

"We knew what we would be excavating but we didn't expect the tiles to be in such good condition, they are stunning," said Graham Mottershead, project manager at Salford Archaeology.

The baths, which opened in 1857 on what is now Baring Street, were the third public baths in Manchester.

Ian Miller, assistant director of archaeology at the University of Salford, said: "Before public baths the textile workers lived in crammed insanitary conditions and would wash their clothes in the used bath water.

"Public baths were a game changer for the health of the working classes, keeping clean and having clean clothes were essential for public health."

Manchester's public baths

image copyrightMark Waugh
image captionThe tiles will be reused in the £1.4bn Mayfield neighbourhood regeneration
  • Manchester's first public baths opened in a house on Miller Street in 1846
  • The second purpose built baths and laundry opened in Collier Street, Salford, in 1856 with Mayfield designed by the same architect a year later
  • There were around 30 public baths in Manchester at their peak use in the late 19th Century

Source: Salford Archaeology

Mayfield Baths were a vital public amenity at the centre of Manchester's textiles industry, featuring pools for men and women.

"They started out for the middle classes in the 18th Century but in the 19th Century they were open to the literally 'great unwashed'," Mr Miller added.

The archaeologists working for the site developers have uncovered the remains of two large tiled pools as well as parts of boilers, flues and pumps used to heat and circulate water around the pools and laundry rooms.

They used 3D laser scanning and low-level drone photography to produce an accurate, detailed record of the findings to produce digital drawings.

The tiles will be reused in the £1.4bn Mayfield neighbourhood regeneration.

The planned park and new commercial spaces at Mayfield will nestle by historic buildings, including the landmark former station on Fairfield Street.

image copyrightMark Waugh
image captionThe excavation team used 3D laser scanning and drone photography
image copyrightMark Waugh
image captionThe baths opened in 1857

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