An impressive 150-year-old Victorian-era bathhouse was discovered when builders overturned a Manchester parking lot during the construction of a new public park.
Unlike a Roman-era building that would only be known as a “bathhouse,” the city’s archaeologists identified the find as Mayfield Baths, a place where the city’s textile workers bathed and washed clothes during the 19th century. .
“We knew what we were going to excavate, but we didn’t expect the tiles to be in such good condition,” Graham Mottershead, project manager at Salford Archeology, told the BBC. “They are impressive”.
So far, excavators have discovered two 62-foot-long tiled pools, a boiler, flue pipes and pumps. The device heated the water and then sent it spinning around pools or laundry rooms. They used 3D laser scanning and drone photography to identify the site and make digital drawings.
Trade during the 19th century had made Manchester the industrial heartland of England, and it was known as the “Cottonopolis”. Sanitary conditions were poor and the Mayfield toilets were the third facility of its kind in the city to improve the lives of factory workers.
“Before the public baths, textile workers lived in crowded and unsanitary conditions and washed their clothes in used bathing water,” Ian Miller, another Salford archeology expert, told the BBC.
“Public toilets changed the rules of the game for the health of the working classes, keeping clean and having clean clothes was essential for public health.”
The tiles will be used as part of the Mayfield Partnership’s £ 1.4bn plan to remodel that part of the city, including a 6.5-acre park, the first new one built in the city in more than 100 years.
According to the Smithsonian, one of the new commercial buildings will be named after a 19th century swimming instructor and public health advocate, George Poulton, who actually taught at the Mayfield Baths.
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