Early Victorian Bathhouse Unearthed Beneath Manchester Parking Lot

Annie Spratt, Unsplash
Annie Spratt, Unsplash / Annie Spratt, Unsplash

The construction of a new public park in Mayfield, Manchester, has unearthed a piece of local history. As the BBC reports, archaeologists have discovered remains of a Victorian-era bathhouse beneath a parking lot.

The Mayfield Baths opened on modern-day Baring Street in 1857. During the Industrial Revolution, Mayfield, England, became a hub for textile production, and workers needed a place to get clean. Before bathhouses were built, employees working in dirty factory conditions were forced to wash their clothes in old bath water. The Mayfield site was the third bathhouse built in Manchester, and it featured laundry services as well as pools for male and female bathers.

The facilities serviced the public for decades before they were damaged in World War II and ultimately demolished. Archaeologists from the University of Salford knew ruins of the site were still beneath the land, but they didn't expect to find them in such pristine condition. The dig has uncovered parts of flues, pumps, and boilers in addition to the two large tiled pools. Much of the pools' intricate, blue-and-white tiles are still intact. The team used 3D laser scanning and low-level drone photography to map and record the discovery.

The bathhouse was excavated as part of a new $1.9 billion neighborhood revitalization effort in Mayfield. The parking lot that was formerly above the dig site is being transformed into Mayfield Park—the city's first new public park in a century. Tiles recovered from the area will be reused in the project.

[h/t BBC]