Sutton Park Keepers Pool. From personal postcard collection above dated 14th August 1914
Sutton Park Keepers Pool – Sutton Coldfield – 1887/1930
Sutton Park Keepers Pool. A local personal haunt, alongside it’s six neighbouring pools, was a man-made pool created in the 12th century, its main purpose to be practical in order to feed the local population with fish, and to drive the mills.
The dam was originally earth and clay, and later in the 15th century was reinforced with stone and now faced with concrete.
The following information is taken from the book “Images of England, Sutton Park” by Marian Baxter. Published by Tempus 2006 ISBN 07524 4069 1.
“Keeper’s Pool is said to have been constructed by John Holte, keeper of The Chase in Henry VI’s time hence the name Keeper’s Pool. It was owned by the Holte family and Somerville family until 1879 when it was purchased by the Corporation.
In 1864 The General Purposes of Sutton Coldfield Corporation requested that the Park’s Committee enquire as to the expense of making a swimming bath in the Park and to the locality they recommended.
In March 1868 it was suggested that Perkins’s Pool be made available in lieu of making a new pool by erecting a small shed and landing space.
In 1874 there was another suggestion that a public swimming bath in the park should be constructed below Blackroot Pool. However, the Corporation replied that although it was desirable to construct such a bath, it was not advisable in the present financial state of the corporate funds to incur such an expense at the present time’.
On April 1887 Sutton Corporation finally decided that the
swimming “baths” should be built, provided the cost was no more than £200.
On 30 July the baths were opened. Bathing took place behind unroofed wooden walls for the sake of Victorian modesty. There is a tale that the interior walls were painted black to make it less easy to see the human form.
Sutton Park Lido. By the 1900’s the swimming baths had been extended, but the first major reconstruction was not until the 1930’s, when the baths/lido were opened up for all to watch from Keepers Pool. Cubicles similar to beach huts were added at this time. There were about 20 cubicles for women and a communal changing room for men. Swimmers used the Keepers Pool/ lake for actually swimming with the “baths” lido facilities alongside.
In 1961 the changing facilities were rebuilt in an ‘ultra modern £20,000 brick built building. Now there were 40 cubicles for each sex. The newer building also incorporated a clothes basket store.
OUTCOME: As far as I have been able ascertain, swimming in Keeper’s Pool Sutton Park itself (the lake) was made illegal in April 1979.
Certainly swimming was allowed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. According to a newspaper article, in April 1969, the Council banned swimming from all of the lakes in Sutton Park on the grounds of Health and Safety.
Sadly the Sutton Park swimming lido alongside was destroyed by vandals in March 2003. The site of the pool regretfully was cleared. There are no remains of the former baths/lido. The area area is now landscaped.
The Council proposed a state- of- the- art lido, sports complex and educational centre be built at Powell’s Pool. However, strong public opinion saw that idea shelved.
Contribution received from Steve Beauchampe 28/07/16
Keeper’s Pool – Sutton Park
Sometimes known as Keeper’s Baths and situated on north side of pool. March 1868, proposal to construct open air baths at Perkins Pool, to include a shed and landing space. Suggestion in 1874 to build public baths on land below Blackroot Pool, but rejected by Sutton Coldfield Corporation due to lack of finance. Original baths, hidden from public gaze by tall wooden enclosures, cost £200 extended in 1900, extensively rebuilt in 1933 with 2/3 pools including Children’s Pool, changing huts (20x men; 20x women), diving stages and aerator, 1961 version cost £20,000 included a modern pavilion, 80 dressing cubicles (40x men; 40x women), clothes store, café with sun terrace and provided both a main pool and small pool. Following fire, new lido at Powell’s Pool, incorporating a sports complex and education centre proposed by BCC, but shelved due to lack of public support.
Swimming in all of Sutton Park’s pools, including Keeper’s, was banned in April 1979.
Do you remember the swimming days in the lake? Give a whisper!