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Manchester High School for Girls

Diving back in time at Victoria Baths

One of Manchester’s most historic buildings, Victoria Baths, saw its Gala Pool packed with swimmers and spectators for a special, one-off Swimming Showcase event to raise money for the ongoing restoration of Manchester’s Water Palace.

Girls from the Senior School took to the pool with pupils from The Manchester Grammar School in a throwback to school swimming galas of time gone by. The evening was an action-packed affair, with many of our newest pupils taking part and representing Manchester High for the first time.

After the relay races, pupils and their parents toured a brand new exhibition, commissioned to tell the story of Victoria Baths from its opening night through to its closure and partial restoration. They were particularly interested in the story of Sunny Lowry MBE (Class of 1919), a former Manchester High pupil who became the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1933.

On loan from the Dover Museum was the original two-piece swimming costume designed by Sunny for her channel swims. The costume, which saw her branded a ‘harlot’ because it showed her knees, featured the Manchester bee motif and Lancashire roses.

Lily, in 7G, said: “I loved swimming in the Victoria Baths. They are clearly steeped in history and it was quite remarkable to know that Sunny Lowry actually trained there. Amusingly, some of my friends are now in Lowry House, so I felt an extra sense of pride when we heard about her life!”

We would like to thank Victoria Baths and Manchester Grammar School for inviting our pupils to be part of this special event.

To see all the photos from the evening, please visit our Flickr page.