A local personal haunt, Sutton Park’s Keepers Pool 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
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.
By the 1900′s the swimming baths had been extended, but the first major reconstruction was not until the 1930′s, when the baths were opened up for all to watch from Keepers Pool. Cubicles similar to beach huts were added at this time.
In 1961 the changing facilities were rebuilt in an ‘ultra modern £20,000 brick built building. Whereas before there were about 20 cubicles for women and a communal changing hut for men, now there were 40 cubicles for each sex. The new building also incorporated a clothes-store.
In recent years swimmers used to frequent this pool for recreational purposes and later a Lido was built alongside. This sadly met it’s end by vandalism and fire.
As far as I have been able ascertain, swimming in Keeper’s Pool 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 the Council, in
April 1979 banned swimming from all of the pools in Sutton Park on the grounds of Health and Safety.
The swimming baths were destroyed by vandals in March 2003.
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. The site of the baths was cleared and now the area has been landscaped.