When Yorkshire folk go to Manchester it is advisable to take along a Lancastrian: firstly to translate and secondly to hold the umbrella. The Club’s outing to the Victoria Baths on 10 August took no chances and welcomed three Lancastrians in the party of eleven members and associates. In the event the natives were very friendly and understandable and the sun shone brightly. That meant Club members could focus on the challenge of doing justice to a truly exceptional building.
After a short introductory talk and tour we had the place to ourselves and could wander at will through much of the building taking in the three pools (originally Males 1st Class, Males 2nd Class and Females) and features such as the Turkish Bath. Would members take a record style approach? Yes, for part of the time, but there was also plenty of atmosphere to soak up and try to capture on our sensors.
The rich green of the tilework cried out for lovingly close images as well as contextual shots showing the vistas that bathers would have enjoyed as they entered the baths complex. Deep brown woodwork set off examples of decorative glass. For those who looked carefully there were reflections to capture. Then there was the ironwork – some of it part of the engineering of the building and some, like the changing cubicles, offering a robust structure with attractive decor in a busy and no doubt wet position.
Some areas had been retained in their original condition or painstakingly restored. Others showed that there was still upkeep and preservation work to be done before areas could be brought back to their former decorative status. For the photographers an issue was whether to show these areas as places of sad decay or opportunities for renewal.
With so much excitment and puzzling about just what to capture and how, it was easy to forget that we might be in a colleague’s shot. But a friendly word usually resolved things without having to resort to Photoshop’s post production editing.
Having thanked the staff at the baths for their friendly welcome and hospitality and the generosity of access they gave us, there was just time to grab some exterior shots before we set off home after an exhausting four hours of photographic fun.
Here is a selection of the images taken. Click on an image to start a full size slide show.