We are an independently run facility, supported by our local community. Since re-opening in 2015, we have created a core team of dedicated staff, who completely understand our vision for our community facility. It’s not just fitness we focus on though – we are also developing our outdoor areas, creating a much more pleasant environment for members and visitors. And, we will soon be opening Withington’s very first co-working space to enable our local entrepreneurs and creatives to thrive in a collaborative environment.
In January 2013, an announcement by Manchester City Council was made to the M20 community of South Manchester that the much loved and much used Withington Baths and Leisure Centre was to be closed with immediate effect, as they could no longer afford to run it. Over 1200 members, many of whom walk to the centre, the elderly, students, families on low incomes and others, had no alternative sports facility usage. The building has been an integral part of the Withington community for over 100 years, essential for the heath and wellbeing of local people.
The community galvanised and joined together in non-political, family-friendly protests and held a march through the streets, signing a petition to Save The Baths and gathering an unprecedented 8000 signatures in just two weeks. We presented this to Sir Richard Leese, City Council Leader, on Valentine’s Day 2013.
The voices of local people shouted loudly and their passion for this important community hub was recognised by local councillors. Manchester City Council listened and made a u-turn, announcing that Withington Baths would stay open until their new £10m sports centre on Princess Parkway was due to be completed in April 2015.
The community & Love Withington Baths think there is an alternative to closure!
A committed core committee was formed and they developed a business plan to ensure the continued trading success of this vital South Manchester asset.
Withington Baths & Leisure Centre is now run by the community, for the community. As a charitable trust all profits are put back into restoring and maintaining the building, pool and grounds ensuring that it is not just surviving but thriving for the next 100 years.
The foundation stone for Withington Baths is dated 11 November 1911 and for over 100 years the Edwardian building has served the people of Withington and all their public bathing requirements. It was designed by the City architect Henry Price (1867-1944), who also designed Withington Public Library.
The Centenary (google.com/site/withingtonareaevents) was held at the Baths on 12 November 2011, with banners, balloons, cake and talks given. Alan Mather, whose father was a manager in the 1930s and 1940s and used to live in the first floor flat above the Baths shared some memories, there was a talk on the engineering history of the Baths and the staff provided cake, with guided tours rounding off the day. Withington Civic Society describe it as “a splendid occasion, a fitting birthday for the Baths and a fine exercise in living history - bringing the past to the present.”
Originally there were two pools at the Baths, a first class and a second class, with the clean water being used first in the former and then the latter! It was, rather saucily, in 1914 the first Baths to allow mixed male and female bathing - very progressive! One hundred years later we celebrated this momentous controversial decision.
Did you know that in 1915, Withington was described as “Wealthy, a kind of upper-class Olympia, with a rather pronounced air of ‘culture’ and the higher life”?
On New Year’s Eve, 1940, during the Second World War, an air raid shelter directly in front of the baths took a direct hit and seven ARP wardens lost their lives.
There were originally plans for a third pool which was never built and by the 1990s, council cuts meant Pool 1 was drained and boarded over, creating a new gym for community use. Pool 2 has continued to be well used by school, for lessons, by gym users and local swimmers.
As the Baths are run by a charitable trust, every penny that is made goes back into restoring the Baths to its former Edwardian glory and developing the site to be a true community facility for the people of M20.
Having restored the two studios and the pool-side showers, next we will be looking to improve and restore the sauna area. In March 2019, we will also be opening the first co-working space in Withington. Contact Paul on 07850 664064 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Buzz Community Champion Award 2018
Manchester Sports Award 2017
Sporta ‘Social Enterprise Improvement Award’ 2017
We'd like to publicly say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to the following generous businesses and individuals who supported our endeavours. We really couldn't have done this without you...
Special thanks to the following organisations, who share our passion and vision, and are helping us to make it happen:
Thank you to the following local independent businesses, who each pledged £100 to help us realise our Big Vision. If you would like to be a business friend, too, please click here:
Thank you to the following people, who have all made individual contributions*, to help us secure the future of our much-loved heritage building. If you would like to be a friend, too, please click here:
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Dr Frances Balmer
Mr W. Corlett
Said Ben Abdallah
Dr Sukhjind Mann
Ian Philip Hamilton
Lisa Skolosdra Short
Alice de Araujo
Old Moat Children's Centre
Mrs E. Robinson
Dr Mary Miller
We'd also like to thank the following people who have very generously given their time to support our campaign:
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