Where: Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Chorlton-On-Medlock, Manchester M13 0FE
Date: 5th June 2016
How Often: Twice yearly – next event 6 Nov 2016
Venue: The venue for this fair is absolutely stunning. When it opened in 1906, Victoria Baths was described as “the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country” and “a water palace of which every citizen of Manchester can be proud.” It did just that for 87 years. When Manchester City Council decided it had to close the baths in 1993, there was a vigorous reaction in the local community. The campaign to try and prevent closure became the Friends of Victoria Baths and a charitable trust was set up with the aim of fully restoring the building. Their story has had many ups and downs, including the amazing success on the BBC’s Restoration series in 2003. Now the building has been partially restored and the friends continue to work towards full restoration. You can read the full story here www.victoriabaths.org.uk
Indoor / Outdoor? Indoor
Cost of Stalls: £15
Number of Stalls: Approx 50 per event
Entrance Fee: Adults: Admission only £4* / £3, Admission & Guided Tour £7* / £6 (*Gift Aid Price) FREE for under 16s and Friends of VB
Footfall: We did not get any official figures but it was a very sunny day when we visited, and I think that a lot of people had decided to stay in their gardens or do something outside. However, there was still a constant flow of visitors and the stallholders get the additional benefit of customers that had just come to see the baths, and get the added attraction of a lovely craft fair. A lot of the stallholders did confirm that it was very busy at the pre-Christmas market in November.
Type of Crafts: A varied mix including print & papercraft, textiles, woodwork, pottery, metalwork including jewellery, soapmaking, upcycling & furniture restoration – something for everyone!
Crowd Type: All ages, singles, couples and families – a very lovely mixed bag
Car Parking: There is a visitor’s car park at the rear of the building but it was full when we arrived. However, you can usually find free parking on the road outside the venue or in the nearby streets.
Other Facilities (Toilets, refreshments etc): There is a café at the venue run by volunteers serving hot & cold drinks, sandwiches and lovely, homemade cakes. There are toilets and, as it was an open day for the venue, they also had a choir singing in one of the baths!
Transport links (Train/Bus): There is no local train station but there are regular buses from Manchester city centre – The VB website has loads of information on public transport links.
Accessibility: There is ramped access to the main public entrance of the Baths. Within the building the ground floor is fairly level but there are quite a few floors with uneven surfaces. The building has a fully accessible toilet. However, there are no lifts so visitors with physical disabilities may not be able to access the stalls on the upper level.
Vibe: Fabulous surroundings, loads of creative buzz and a lovely relaxed atmosphere
General Comments: This felt like quite a grown up fair but there was a very relaxed & friendly feel to it all. The stallholders were lovely and chatty, as usual, and proud & very knowledgeable about their individual crafts. There was plenty of room around each stall to browse with ease and plenty to buy for all the family to be satisfied. With an acapella choir singing in the background and such a tremendous venue, who wouldn’t feel inspired!
Stallholder Comments: Some stallholders were new to this venue and some had returned numerous times – it even included some that were VB volunteers that had turned their hand to crafting. All said that the stall prices were very affordable, even for the ones just starting out. Previous attendees confirmed that the footfall was usually very good, particularly at the fair in November. All of them said that they felt privileged to be able to exhibit in such a fabulous building.
What did I buy (random as always….)?
Green Quilted Throw by Art Felt Photos (www.artfeltphotos.co.uk)
Greetings Cards by Sophie Heywood (www.sophieheywood.net)
Felted Purse by Felt by Zed (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/feltbyzed)
Bee Tote Bag & Tiny Little Book of Bunny Behaviour by Lyndsey Green (www.etsy.com/shop/lyndseygreen)
Upcycled Jeans Bowl by I Used To Be (www.i-usedtobe.com)
Fair Organiser: Victoria Baths
Contact Details: 0161 224 2020