Category Archives: VICTORIA BATHS

Social media for museums and heritage sites

I’ve just been writing up the self-assessment part of my Skills Project (Beyond the Baths), and thought I would post up here some of the examples of museums and heritage sites’ use of social media which I’ve been using for inspiration during the project. These are all great examples of organisations using social media tools to engage and inform visitors, go behind the scenes of their institution, or encourage participation.








If you’ve found these interesting, check out the audio and video I produced around Victoria Baths HERE.


SKILLS PROJECT: Victoria Baths – Progress report

Well, it’s been a busy few weeks on my Victoria Baths project. Content production is well underway. I’m just going to summarise the progress to date for each area of the project:



I attended the first Open Day of the new season at the Baths in March, which took the form of an open day (with tours) and a Vintage Fair. My original plan was to record audio content, and edit that together with stills to create an audio slideshow.

Stallholder at the Vintage Fair

However, owing to technical problems with my aging audio kit, I ended up having to cover most of the day using my Flip camera, which I’d chucked in my bag as a bit of an afterthought. I like the Flip though, as it’s perfect for capturing on-the-spot action at events, without getting in people’s way. Also, I always recommend it to the third sector organisations I work with because it’s CHEAP, EASY TO USE, and will plug into any computer – even with basic ON-BOARD EDITING SOFTWARE. Using the Flip, I concentrated on getting reactions to the event from visitors, aiming for a mix of ages, as well as recording an interview with Keeley, the organiser of the Vintage Fair, and one of her stallholders.

View from the balcony over the Vintage Fair

Thanks to Sohail’s helpful hints and tips, I also spent a fair bit of time shooting cutaways and scene-setting images (e.g. panning over some of the tabletops at the fair, shooting people browsing through the racks etc). Because of the nature of the Flip, ┬áthe video vox-pops you shoot with it tend to have to be pretty close-up, which I actually quite like, but I found that intercutting these with the cutaways worked much better than my previous attempts, when I’d usually edit together just a bunch of close-ups of people….see for example the video I made in September for the Mersey Basin Campaign:

Mersey Basin Video Nation from Kate Fox on Vimeo.

THE EDIT: I’ve almost finished editing the finished piece from the Vintage Fair. On this occasion I used iMovie, as I’m not that confident with Final Cut Pro as yet. Still, it seemed to go fairly smoothly, as I said, I found it much easier having the choice of cutaways etc. I also learned how to use the audio from one clip over the visuals from another, which has been a huge benefit – letting me essentially have ‘voiceovers’, and vary the shots more when I’m using a longish piece from one speaker. I also experimented with some of the effects available in iMovie, such as the ‘aged film’ look, and something called ‘old time’, which combines with the beautiful surroundings of the Baths to render the whole think slightly like an archive fim (or the opening credits to Bagpuss!) I’ll post the final product onto Vimeo once I’m happy with it!

A happy shopper


I’ve also booked out kit to film the New Charter Housing Trust’s Murder Mystery day on 23rd April. I’ve provisionally asked for a P2 (large camera) and a handheld digicam. Ideally I’ll be able to recruit a camera assistant for the day to help me get cutways and extra shots.

My rough plan for the day thus far is to film ‘re-creations’ of key moments – the revelation of the murder, the corpse, and the naming of the murderer – before the guests arrive, so that when those moments occur, I can concentrate on getting people’s reactions. I’ll also be trying to capture things like people getting dressed up, responses to the day, as well as members of the ‘cast’ introducing themselves for the credit sequence.


Following up on a tip from Steve Helme at the Baths, I’ve also been in touch with Ian MacKay of Gorton Visual Arts group, whose work is scheduled to be exhibited at the Baths later this summer. I have made plans to head to their base on 19th April to shoot some video of them talking about what they do – and I’ll probably return the following week when they’ll be doing more hands-on worj=k towards their exhibition.



As I mentioned, I intended to capture only audio at the Vintage Fair. Sadly, my microphone finally gave up the ghost four interviews in, but I did manage to get interviews with a selection of the stallholders talking about why they were involved, what their stalls featured, and their reactions to the building. In the next week, I’ll be aiming to see what I can salvage, and edit together a piece using these interviews and some of the stills I took to create an audio slideshow.


I headed back to the Baths after the Fair to record an audio interview with Barry, who’s a member of the Baths’ History Volunteers group – coincidentally, he’s the person responsible for recording oral history material.

We had some problems finding a reasonably quiet place to record, especially as the restoration work has entered an especially noisy phase at the moment. Luckily though, we were able to use the climate-controlled archive store, which the volunteers have constructed in the basement of the Baths out of plywood and plastic (because the Baths is listed, they weren’t able to create a permanent structure). We discussed the archiving process, the work of the history volunteers, and some of the people Barry’s met during his oral history work. I’ll be using Audition to edit this content this week.


I’ve also recorded an audio interview with Janet Slade from the Ecology Building Society, who held their AGM at the Baths last year. We talked about the organisation, how they came to use the Baths, and the reaction it got from their members. Happily, Janet also lives locally, and has her own memories of swimming at the Baths when she first arrived in Manchester in the 1970s, which added a nice personal touch to the interview. I’ve just finished editing the audio from this interview, using Audition. It also gave me the chance to roadtest my new Edirol R-09 recorder and brand-spanking-new Rode M3 mic (bought to replace the one that sadly passed away during the Vintage Fair). I’ll post an excerpt here soon.


A busy week for audio collecting – I also went back to Paula and Shaun in Ashton, and recorded some audio of them discussing how the Murder Mystery project came about, their experiences of using the Baths for the last event, and what we can expect on 23rd April. I think this will make a nice companion piece to the film from the day itself.


In other news from this project, I’ve decided to use WordPress as the platform for the content. I toyed with Posterous (where I found a couple of really nice, appropriate themes), and Tumblr – thinking about the group-posting capabilities. In the end though, I decided that WordPress would be the easiest platform to hand over to the Baths at the end of the project – and there’s the most help and support available, with even a Mancheser Users’ Group if they get really keen. I’ve decided to use the url, as I didn’t want to use up the victoriabaths option in case the Baths needed a more general blog down the line.

Victoria Baths project: Murder and mayhem!

Gill at Victoria Baths has given me a whole selection of promising-sounding interviewees and video subjects for my content project on the organisations and events that have been using Victoria Baths’ fantastic building as the backdrop for their work.

Last week I went to Ashton to meet Paula and Shaun from New Charter Housing Trust group. They’ve come up with the brilliant idea of organising Murder Mystery days for teams from their organisation as a training activity and team-building experience. And yes, you’ve guessed it, the action takes place in the spooky surroundings of the Baths.

The next murder is scheduled for April, and I’ll be filming the tragic events, and following the detectives and guests as they get sleuthing to uncover the culprit. I’ve been getting some advice from Sohail about the best way to make sure I manage to cover everything, and he’s suggested that I ask Paula and Shaun and their team to re-enact (or should that be pre-enact) some of the key moments –┬ásuch as the announcement of the murder, the sight of the corpse, and the revealing of the killer – before the guests arrive. That way, when the drama starts to unfold, I’ll be able to concentrate on filming the reactions of the participants.

I’ve also had some fun ideas about shooting a kind of ‘credits’ sequence where each of the characters (who’re all theatrically-gifted members of the marketing department) introduces themselves. I’m especially intrigued by the worrying-sounding Dr Pat Ology, who wields a chainsaw and spends the day, apparently, covered in blood.

I’d also like to find some Twenties-sounding royalty-free music to use in the background. Sohail has suggested that I recruit an assistant for the day to use a smaller camera to shoot cutaways of the building and faces of the guests and so forth, so the hunt is on.

Around the project, I’m also planning to produce some Making-Of material – for example, I am going back to New Charter in a couple of weeks to record some audio with Shaun and Paula talking about how they came up with their ideas, and what motivates the project – as well as focusing on how using the Baths has affected their work.

On the day, I’ll also capture some vox-pops or video vox-pops with participants, organisers and actors to find out what they’ve got from the day.

Whew. If you say it quickly, it just about sounds do-able, right?

In at the deep end…

Picture from AtilatheHun on Flickr:

Another day, another MA project gets underway. We have been asked to undertake a skills-based project focusing on online, audio and video content. I’ve been lucky enough to persuade the lovely people at Victoria Baths to let me do my project on their fantastic restoration project.
Victoria Baths, Manchester’s Water Palace, was designed by the city’s first City Architect, and opened by Manchester Corporation in 1906. The baths were a much loved facility for 86 years, providing essential things like private baths and laundry services, as well as the three swimming pools and beautiful Turkish baths. In 1952, the Aerotone (the UK’s first jacuzzi) was installed, later to be used by injured miners, Matt Busby’s Babes, and BeeGee Robin Gibb.
The baths were many things to many people – you even got a completely different idea of what they were like depending on what door you entered through – Males First Class is a much more luxurious experience than the ordinary swimmers’ entrance, even today. Since winning the BBC’s Restoration TV vote in 2003, with nearly 300 000 supporters, the building, now in the process of being lovingly restored, is STILL providing a whole range of different services to the city and its people.
The aim of my project will be to highlight the whole range of ways in which the baths are being used today, and to demonstrate some of the ways in which people are engaging with the building. After lots of discussion with representatives from the Baths, it was decided that this approach would be most beneficial to the aims of the Victoria Baths Trust, and most helpful in any future funding bids.
I’ve tentatively decided to split the content into two kinds, using audio to focus on past users / projects, reflecting on how the building contributed to their projects and what it meant to them, then documenting this Spring’s events on video. I’m pretty excited about some of the possibilities, especially the big Vintage Fair, and a visit from a creative writing group. It should all be quite a challenge to my production skills, anyway.
Thanks to Gill, Steve and Leanne at Victoria Baths for their cooperation so far!
Watch this space for more news soon.