It was one of the earliest Victorian-era bathhouses ever built.
If you think about it, we never really know what is beneath our feet. Our planet is millions of years old, and since its beginning, it has seen many changes. Perhaps one of its biggest changes was the dawn of humanity. Since the first humans began to roam the world, each generation has left some sort of marker of their existence. Some of these are found, others remain buried. That is why, wherever we walk today, we never truly know what ancient secrets lay hidden beneath our feet.
In Mayfield, Manchester in the UK, there has been a new discovery made. According to the BBC, when the erection of a new public park was underway, construction work ended up unearthing a bathhouse beneath a parking lot.
It’s not an ancient bathhouse from Roman Times, it’s a little bit more modern than that. As archaeologists discovered, it’s actually the remains of a Victorian-era bathhouse called The Mayfield Baths.
Their history dates back to 1857 when they were opened up on Baring Street. At the time, England was underway with its Industrial Revolution. Mayfield in Manchester, England quickly became a hotspot for textile production. With the rise of factories came the rise in the number of bathhouses as they provided a public place for many factory workers to be able to go and get cleaned up.
Before bathhouses caught on as a trend, those working inside factories were exposed to dirty conditions that left them unable to wash their clothes or themselves in anything other than old bathwater. Gross. As a result, the Mayfield site was the third bathhouse to be built in the city of Manchester. This particular bathhouse also featured laundry services for its patrons, as well as pools for both male and female bathers.
The Mayfield bathhouse was in use all the way up until it was damaged during the Second World War and ended up getting demolished. Archaeologists from the University of Salford speculated that the bathhouse’s ruins were probably still underground, but what they could never imagine was that the remains would be in such great condition.
The discovery has unearthed parts of flues, pumps, and boilers, as well as two large tiled pools. Amazingly, a lot of the pools’ blue-and-white tiles were found to be pretty much intact. Using 3D laser scanning and low-level drone photography, the archaeologists were able to map out and record their discovery.
The rediscovery of the Mayfield bathhouse’s remains was thanks to a $1.9 billion neighborhood revitalization effort taking place in Mayfield. The parking lot above the excavation site was meant to become Mayfield Park – the city’s first new public park to be built in a hundred years.
Now, the discovery of the bathhouse means that the old bath tiles will be incorporated into the park project – and that is just wonderful!