Woodcock Street Baths - Birmingham 1860 onwards

Woodcock Street Baths – Birmingham 1860 onwards

Woodcock Street Baths once a famous venue for championships

woodcock street 1860

Woodcock Street Baths courtesy of Birmingham Central Library – Patrick Baird (1994)


Woodcock Street Bathsgala. A famous Gala Programme - image

Woodcock Street Baths and the The Bologne Trophy Television Swimming Gala was held annually. It was a contest between England,  Scotland and Wales.Birmingham Central Library – Courtesy of Swimming Times


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!   

Woodcock Street Baths New interior - image

Note the diving boards are set into a balcony. A stage for aqua shows -Birmingham Central Library – Patrick Baird (1994)

 Woodcock Street Baths - Anne Diving - image

My Training Baths

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.  


Woodcock Street Baths diving. Poised to dive - image

Poised to dive Courtesy of Swimming Times Ad.

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.

Woodcock Street Baths Queen - Beulah Gundling and water ballet - image

Beulah Gundling. World Water Ballet Star

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.


Woodcock Street Baths restored to former Victorian Beauty - Woodcock - Street - image

Ladies Bath (2nd class bath ) restored to its former Victorian glory agj

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 - image

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?


More pools to scan if you dive deeper here




woodcock street baths - sdi Snippet 15 - image