This week, we focus on the Verdin Brine Baths which were located within the Verdin Park off Castle Hill in Northwich.

In January 1887 it was announced that Sir Robert Verdin, local salt magnate and MP (elected one year previously), had acquired Winnington Bank and would present this estate that he bought at auction to provide Northwich with a new park, a public brine swimming baths and a hospital.

All were located on the land to the left of Winnington Hill as the hill rises. The project was in celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

The house became the Victoria Infirmary, which is still in use today, although it has been expanded several times to cater to the more modern medical facilities required.

Knutsford Guardian: Verdin BathsVerdin Baths (Image: Rose Hurley)

Robert Verdin also purchased an additional field adjoining his previous lot from Mr Neumann, which contributed in total to more than 14 acres of land for the provision of the park and baths.

Unfortunately, Robert Verdin died in July of 1887 when the baths were due to be opened just a week later.

This opening was postponed out of respect, and eventually, the baths and park opened in October 1887.

The baths had a cast iron plunge pool (approximately 60ft by 20ft) and several slipper baths.

It was built using the half-timber principle, with circular-headed windows that were the entire length of the 109ft-long building, which was 34ft wide.

Knutsford Guardian: Verdin Baths with the statue of Sir Robert to the rightVerdin Baths with the statue of Sir Robert to the right (Image: Rose Hurley)

Over the main door was a stained-glass fanlight with the words Verdin Public Baths in ornamental lettering.

On the panel above were the inscribed words 'cleanliness is next to godliness'.

The park had tennis courts, bowling greens, a cricket ground and two lodges, one for the park attendant and the other for the bath's superintendent.

The design of the park layout was completed by James Holland, a ship's carpenter from Wincham, and landscaping of the parkland was done by Messrs Dickson from Chester.

Opposite each end of the baths were small decorative waterfalls. Wrought iron railings and gates were provided by Messrs Morton and Co of Liverpool.

Knutsford Guardian: Sir Robert Verdin statueSir Robert Verdin statue (Image: Rose Hurley)

The baths were located north of the footpath from Castle Street at the southern end of the park; another main entrance was on Winnington Lane.

The infirmary, park and baths were formally opened on October 12 that year by Lord Stanley of Preston, who was president of the Board of Trade at that time.

The August bank holiday had been cancelled that year for the inhabitants of Northwich to enable everyone to attend the grand opening and celebrations that took place.

Working men of every trade joined the procession through the town. The streets were festooned with Venetian masts and bannerettes.

Knutsford Guardian: The Victoria Infirmary, NorthwichThe Victoria Infirmary, Northwich (Image: Rose Hurley)

There were numerous arches created, and various mottoes displayed paying homage to the Verdin family for donating the gifts to the town.

The opening ceremony took place in the Central Hall, with John Clough, current chairman of the Northwich Local Board, presiding.

The brother of Robert Verdin, Joseph Verdin, handed over the deeds to the park, infirmary, and baths.

A dinner took place later at the Drill Hall, where the brothers Verdin received a magnificent gold key on behalf of Robert in recognition of the gifts given to the people of Northwich.

A huge bonfire was lit on the Drill Hall grounds to mark the occasion.

The following year, it was agreed that a statue should be erected in recognition of the donation by benefactor Robert Verdin.

The sculptor Joseph Swynnerton came from the Isle of Man. The statue was placed at the north entrance of the baths.

The unveiling of the statue took place one year later at 4pm on September 14. It was accompanied by a festival of 'ornamental and scientific swimming' at the baths.

Sadly, less than 30 years later, in 1911, the baths were closed due to severe subsidence in various areas of the park, ironically in all likelihood caused by the salt extraction over the years.