From neo-Gothic libraries to Art Deco churches, Greater Manchester boasts some of the most pre-eminent heritage sites in the country, with a vast array of buildings from Macclesfield to Saddleworth brimming with historical significance.

Here are eight of the best heritage sites around the region.

Ashton Old Baths | Ashton-under-Lyne

The story of Ashton Old Baths dates back to Victorian England, where calls for better sanitation led to the construction of vast swimming baths in 1870. The stunning building would then be reinvented as an orchestra venue, restaurant and indoor tennis court throughout its lifespan. Now a digital and creative hub, with an imposing, modern timber structure built within the baths’ original walls, the Tameside heritage site operates as a unique community co-working and meeting space for business innovation.

Stamford St W, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 7FW
Portland Basin Museum | Ashton-under-Lyne

Nearby, the restored late-Georgian Ashton Canal Warehouse houses the Portland Basin Museum, which preserves the heritage of Tameside from the Industrial Revolution through the early 20th century. Combining a ‘lively modern interior with a peaceful canalside setting’, the museum features an incredible reconstruction of a local 1920s street, complete with a kitchen and parlour, as well as an array of historic machines, educational resources and a children’s ‘Nuts and Bolts’ play area.

Portland Basin Museum, 1, Portland Place, Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester OL7 0QA, Tel: 0161 342 5480
The John Rylands Library | Spinningfields

One of the city’s most notable architectural and historical sites, Deansgate’s Victorian neo-Gothic centre-piece opened in 1900 as a ‘gift to Manchester’ from Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her beloved husband. Today, the library houses the University of Manchester’s special collections amongst some of the most breathtaking interior craftsmanship in the country. Alongside its extensive academic archives and educational resources, the John Rylands Library also holds the earliest surviving manuscript of the New Testament, the St. John’s Fragment, on display in the Rylands Gallery.

150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH, Tel: 0161 306 0555
Victoria Baths | Chorlton-on-Medlock

Open from March to November, the achingly beautiful Grade II* listed Edwardian-era building hosts a variety of public open days on Sundays and Wednesdays, guided group tours on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with a selection of special events throughout the season. Opened in 1906 and quickly hailed as ‘the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country’, Victoria Baths has undergone several cycles of evolution over 125 years to become a blossoming centre for arts and culture.

Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester M13 0FE, Tel: 0161 224 2020
Christchurch | Saddleworth

Dating back to 1850, the Gothic Revival jewel studded into the lush Friezland landscape now operates as a ‘beautiful, sacred, welcoming and inclusive space’ hosting marriages, baptisms and services in a dignified and peaceful atmosphere. Available to visit for service, worship or exploration, Christchurch also hosts a variety of regular concerts, including Saddleworth Music Festival.

3 Church Road, Greenfield, Oldham, Greater Manchester OL3 7LQ, Tel: 01457 872117
St Gabriel's Parish Church | Prestwich

An exceedingly rare example of Art Deco religious design, St. Gabriel Parish Church is an architecture enthusiast’s dream. Modestly appointed yet steeped in local history, the church welcomes visitors for ‘Brew and a Chat’ events on Mondays from 10.30am-1pm, and invites guests to help out the Nature and Wellbeing Team with open-air gardening during the same time.


St Gabriel's Parish Church, Bishops Road, Prestwich, Greater Manchester M25 0HT, Tel: (0161) 773 8839
The Silk Museum | Macclesfield

From Ancient Egypt to the Second World War, the Silk Museum charts a fascinating history of the coveted fabric through a peerlessly extensive collection of materials, looms and artefacts from its time as a global epicentre of the silk trade. Open from 10am to 4pm from Wednesday to Saturday, the Silk Museum offers a living chronicle of the northern textile industry with an inventory of priceless objects and photographic accounts of its workers over 200 years.

The Silk Museum, Park Ln, Macclesfield, SK11 6TJ
The Pankhurst Centre | University

An architectural cradle of 20th century women’s activism, The Pankhurst Centre remains the only public site where people can visit the former home of Emmeline and her family, and continues to operate as the only museum dedicated solely to preserving and amplifying the story of women’s suffrage. Free to visit with an invitation to pay what you can, the museum is open for limited-capacity groups on Thursdays and Sundays from 11am-4pm.

60-62 Nelson St, Manchester M13 9WP, Tel: 0161 273 5673
Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Fri 25 Aug 2023