Woodcock Street Baths once a famous venue for championships
Woodcock Street Baths were open by Alderman W.W. Saunders with the Lord Mayor Ald. Percival Bower presiding over the occasion. These were Baths with the label “Outstanding Glory.”
Woodcock Street Baths Gala Bath was packed. The audience being entertained by a fine Water Gala.
There was an exhibition of 440 yards pacing by Miss Doris Molesworth. She was a representative at the Olympic Games in Paris 1924. Doris was accompanied by Mr C.R. Baker who […]
Cadbury’s Bourneville Open Air Pool. When this pool was packed out off we went to Bournville
…attempted to break the 100 yards record. Other Paris Olympians – Miss Belle White, Miss V. Newman and Miss E. Armstrong demonstrated their Olympic prowess from the diving boards.
They plunged into the 113 ft. X 74 ft. wide from the 3 and 5 metre platforms, plus the 3m springboard. A very special event was organised namely the “Nurses and Babies” competition, where the nurse carried out her duties by undressing and dressing the baby, at the same time encountering water obstacles on the way!
The Woodcock Street Baths were “unusually deep” holding 8 ft. 6 inches of water. (Woodcock Street was my training base, and I used to dive from the 5 metre top board into this depth!). There was a line of red tiling across the width of the bath floor to warn swimmers the bath suddenly deepened. Above the spectator seating, was a dado of oak changing cubicles.
The building was given a free treatment of classic. It was constructed in red brick with facings and dressings of Portland stone. In addition there was the “Ladies Bath” and both “ponds” were lined with white glazed tiles.
The Baths were to become very famous, hosting the Amateur Swimming Association Bologna Trophy (England, Scotland & Wales) most years; produced many television Galas and nurtured a famous diving club renowned for displays all over the district; plus a Water Ballet Swimming Club – now known as Synchronised Swimming.
The famous American “Water Ballet” Star Beulah Gundling visited the Baths in 1949 during her European Tour. The Baths were bedecked as a film studio and amassed with flowers.
The baths persistently buzzed with activity; holding many courses, and seminars.
The Second Class Bath (The Ladies Bath) has been beautifully restored in its original style. A real success story.
OUTCOME: Woodcock Street Baths now stand proudly in the clear open space of the Aston University Campus. The newly restored Ladies Bath is frequented by the students.
Gone are the two ups; back to backs; tuck shops and the nearby brewery.
Change of Use
The main Gala Bath has had the diving boards taken down, due to health and safety regulations. Any pool under 12′ deep had their diving boards removed from 1977 onwards. The pool is floored over. The hall now operates as a badminton court, and other sports and sports occasions. The building recently had a 3K refurbishment.
Woodcock Street Baths have survived, all be it by change of use. The Ladies bath above, has been re-tiled and restored to its former glory.
For the Midland District ASA, Woodcock Street Baths were “home” and will be eternal in the memories of those that used the facilities.
Woodcock Street Baths are now named the Sir Doug Ellis Sports Centre. Sir Doug being the former Chairman of Aston Villa Football Club and Entrepreneur.
Extra Note: Fine Victorian toilets occupied a site just at the turning into Woodcock Street and they were preserved ! Are they still there?