Monday, 28 March 2011

Manchester Deco

This post is dedicated to Miss Matilda, as it features her combined loves of Manchester, art deco and Carole Lombard!

Some friends and I have been taking swimming lessons at a Bannatyne's health club, which is situated inside Sunlight House on Quay St. in Manchester, next door to the opera house. The basement pool is absolutely gorgeous - all original deco railings and tiles, an unusual shape, and a stunning domed stained glass ceiling looking up to daylight between the four sides of the building which provides much inspiration whilst practising my backstroke!

Unfortunately I can't find a picture anywhere of the pool, but here is a dramatic one of the building, taken by remote_release on flickr.

On the stairs by the pool there are pictures of its opening in 1933! It was 'Christened' with Champagne by Carole Lombard and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

My photos here are a bit rubbish as the glass created flare, and I have just noticed that there are reflections of Natalie and Katherine who were standing behind me on the stairs, but there are some great vintage swimsuits and shoes to be seen! I especially love the diving man's swimwear in the last picture, with the swallow appliqué.

Sunlight house was completed in 1932 and was Manchester's tallest building at fourteen floors, it was originally intended to be forty storeys high but the city council blocked the plans. I imagine that if it had been built to the original plans, with soaring white towers and glittering glass, it would be regarded as a UK Art Deco landmark, rather than just a building of local interest.


  1. Thank you SO much, I never ever ever knew Carole had been to Manchester, wow! I am so impressed you dedicated this to me.

    I did see Doug in the flesh once, but I was far to scared to talk to him. He came to Manchester many many times throughout his life.

    I'd love some copies of those photos, wonder if it's possible?

    Much love and thanks for brightening me week xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Really interesting! I have never seen this building and its a damn sight prettier than the bloody Hilton!!

  3. You're welcome, Miss M! xxx The gym people might have copies of the pictures? You could write to them saying you're researching Manchester's local history.

    I suppose when you live in a crowded city you forget to look upwards, there's probably loads more amazing buildings in Manchester we've not noticed!

  4. Pppssst, since I don't see an email address on your blog, you might want to check out my last post. ;)

  5. Hoorahs! Just checked it now and emailed you! xxx

  6. ~ hi there! ~ loved this post & cannot wait to go swimming myself. I found you from Diary of a Vintage Girl and loved your comment on the BRA post *heehee!* IMHO that shop girl was a nasty b!tch to you and didn't deserve your $$ anyway.
    I want to invite you to my blog as well but do not see an Email address ~ if you would like an invite, send a note to and I'll put you on the list, ok!

  7. Hello Kally, I would like to use the three b/w images from your post on Sunlight House for my blog, and also for a possible project for a company that now oocupied space in Sunligh House. Is this possible please?