> Gaskell's underground swimming pool 📍
Between the 1930s and 1960s Manchester had an underground sauna and heated swimming pool run by the Gaskell family, under the Imperial Buildings on Oxford Road.
…Gaskell's underground swimming pool, adjacent to the BBC's Oxford Road headquarters. Run by the wealthy Gaskell family, the pool opened in 1930 with swimming lessons given in 'warmth, comfort and privacy' by Mrs Ada Frances Gaskell herself.
Skyliner mentions the baths in an article about the demolition of the BBC’s New Broadcasting House.
In 1932 the baths were advertised as Mrs Gaskell’s Swimming Baths with "special attention paid to nervous pupils" but as the years passed the baths began to cater for a more body conscious society - in 1938 the classified ad boasted "medical electricity", and the venue evolved into Gaskell’s Wax and Turkish Baths.
You can see examples of the adverts and read lots more in an extensive article about the baths written by Sally Dervan on Andrew Simpson’s Chorlton History website. In 1959 the baths were reviewed by The Guardian:
Miss Peggy Gaskell, who runs the establishment, which has been giving people baths of one sort or another for 30 years now, says that people are quite enthusiastic about the sauna - especially the men; the women seem to be a bit put off by the idea of the cold shower.
Below you can see the Imperial Buildings as they are now on Google Streetview. To see them as they appeared then have a look at this photo from the Local Image Collection.