Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Daytripping: Victorian Manchester. . .

This post is mainly to extol the virtues of the many volunteers that work so hard to keep England's literary and historical heritage alive and accessible.  Earlier this month I made a day trip to Manchester with my bookish friends to visit two such sites that have been saved from demolition and decay by the hard work of many passionate people.

Our first stop was the recently reopened house of novelist Elizabeth Gaskell.

I blogged earlier about a trip to Knutsford, the town that inspired Gaskell's Cranford, but she actually wrote the book, along with North and South, Ruth, Wives and Daughters and her biography of Charlotte Bronte, in this house - 84 Plymouth Grove.

While there is still a lot of work to be done on restoring the house, you will not meet a nicer, enthusiastic or more knowledgeable group of volunteers, greeting you at the door, answering questions in each of the period rooms and taking their turns serving tea in the delightful basement tea room (you get to pick your own china tea cup).  Most of the ground floor has been restored and they are working on recreating one of the bedrooms upstairs.  Plans are also well under way on the garden as well; a place that Gaskell loved for its privacy as this plaque celebrates. 

Just a short walk from Gaskell's house is another major restoration work in progress - the Victoria Baths, originally opened in 1906 and left to decay after it was closed in 1993. The Friends of Victoria Baths have worked tirelessly to save the building.  We managed to get a glimpse inside on the last weekend it was open to the public before shutting for the winter.

The building has a gorgeous facade and originally had three separate entrances; one for First Class Males, one for Second Class Males and the final one for Females.

This is the Females Pool which was the smallest of the three.

I love the beachy feel of the change rooms that lined the side of the pool.

The whole building has remnants of beautiful decorative features from distinctive tiles along the landings and stairways to mosaic floors and stained glass windows.  There is a workshop in the basement where volunteers are learning how to repair and restore the stained glass.

Even the old supervisor's rooms have some gorgeous features like this beautiful fireplace.

The basement also houses the Turkish Baths with their beautiful blue and teal tile work.

Both sites are well worth a visit if you are in the Manchester area.

1 comment:

kaystir said...

They look lovely, I can't wait to visit them myself one day!