In Haunt

Explore Victoria Baths – the beautiful baths complex dating from 1906 and located just outside Manchester city centre – in a whole new way, as a brand new tour will reveal how the building has starred in a number of popular TV dramas! Did you know that the likes of Peaky Blinders, Mrs Biggs and World on Fire have been filmed here? Come and see for yourself in this opportunity to go ‘Behind the Screens’!

Victoria Baths

‘Behind the Screens’ is a new addition to Victoria Baths’ regular weekly tour programme (that takes place between April and October) and will take guests into the areas not usually accessible to the public, where some iconic TV moments have been captured! Venture into the filter room where a famous Tom Hardy scene from Peaky Blinders took place and dare you delve into the basement, where a prison cell for Houdini & Doyle was built? The expert-led tour will feature thrilling original props, backstage secrets and plenty of photo opportunities - and will take place once a month on a Wednesday from 2pm onwards, between between April and October 2020. For dates and further details, see online.

Perhaps surprisingly, the use of the building has gone far beyond being a bath house during filming! Over time, it has starred on screen as everything from an auction house and fish market to a hospital and even a morgue! This varying usage forms a key part of the plotline for the new tour.

Victoria Baths

Elizabeth Sibbering, Operations Manager at Victoria Baths reflected:

 “We all love the excitement generated by the filming at Victoria Baths and appreciate the way production teams showcase the building.  Victoria Baths has fuelled the imagination of wonderfully creative and talented individuals and we want to share these stories and moments with visitors in our new Behind the Screens tour.”

It is perhaps little wonder that this Chorlton-on-Medlock building has attracted plenty of screen time. Designed by Manchester’s first City Architect Henry Price, opened by Manchester Corporation in 1906 and featuring three pools, a Turkish Baths complex, beautiful stained glass and what  was the first public ‘aeratone’ installed in 1952 (the equivalent of a Jacuzzi) – it was described on opening as "a water palace of which every citizen of Manchester can be proud." From the Hathersage Road entrance, the building certainly is striking, with its red brick façade, tall gables and clock tower. Inside, beautifully-restored rooms, terracotta tiling and opportunities to explore await. Read our previous article featuring Victoria Baths' Writer In Residence Sarah-Clare Conlon, here

Filming at Victoria Baths has not only contributed to the rich history of the building, but also has helped to make an important financial contribution towards its ongoing maintenance. After all, the bigger picture of Victoria Baths is well worth paying attention to – as although it functioned as a public baths for much of the 20th century, in 1993 it was closed and fell into tragic disrepair. Yet even during this time, examples of filming took place, the casts of Cracker (1993-5) and Prime Suspect (1996), using the building in its derelict state!

Victoria Baths

Thankfully, passionate members of the public got behind the baths ever since its closure – forming The Manchester Victoria Baths Trust and fighting for its future. In addition, in September 2003, Victoria Baths won the BBC’s landmark series Restoration - with a huge 282,018 votes from the public in favour of saving it. This led to a £3 million investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and  extensive restoration work which allowed the building to reopen to the public heritage site. Now continued funding is essential to supports the Trust’s long-term vision, to bring back into their original use some of the building’s historical features, including the Turkish Baths and to continue to restore the building.

Therefore, the cost of every tour will contribute to the ongoing upkeep of the baths – and although visiting the baths is free, donations are welcome. There also is another film-inspired way to contribute, as an exclusive fine art print of a photograph of Cillian Murphy taken at Victoria Baths by fashion photographer John Balsom will be auctioned to raise money for the Baths’ restoration fund. The reserve price of £500 includes the framed photograph and an original copy of the GQ magazine in which the photograph featured, with the auction open to bids until Saturday 14 March 2020. For full details or to make a bid visit:bit.ly/VBAuction2020

For more details on tour times and dates, as well as visiting information, see the Victoria Baths website: http://www.victoriabaths.org.uk/ The baths also features popular 'Wednesday Lates', open days and a thriving public events programme, bringing everything from wedding fairs to gigs to the space! 

The new Behind the Screens tour will complement the popular weekly tours that take place every Wednesday at Victoria Baths between April and October. Doors open at 12:30pm, with the Gift Shop and Tea Room open before and after the tours. Tickets are £7 (free for Friends of Victoria Baths and under 16s) and can be booked via victoriabaths.eventbrite.com.

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