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Former City of Birmingham Public Baths, Now Aston University Sports Centre

A Grade II Listed Building in Nechells, Birmingham

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Latitude: 52.4859 / 52°29'9"N

Longitude: -1.8868 / 1°53'12"W

OS Eastings: 407784

OS Northings: 287555

OS Grid: SP077875

Mapcode National: GBR 636.9R

Mapcode Global: VH9YX.7SW6

Plus Code: 9C4WF4P7+87

Entry Name: Former City of Birmingham Public Baths, Now Aston University Sports Centre

Listing Date: 8 July 1982

Last Amended: 22 October 2003

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1211513

English Heritage Legacy ID: 217819

Location: Nechells, Birmingham, B4

County: Birmingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Nechells

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Cathedral Church of St Philip Birmingham

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham

Tagged with: University building

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Swimming Baths for City of Birmingham, now Aston University pool and gymnasium. c.1926, with 1902 core. Arthur McKewan, ARIBA for City of Birmingham. Brown brick with stone plinth and stone dressings, steep slate hipped roofs and brick parapet with stone copings.
EXTERIOR: WOODCOCK STREET elevation has entrance block to right with paired 2-storey wings linked by arcaded entrance to open courtyard. Each wing with wide advanced quoins and central window bay of stone panels above and below windows in brick frames with stone square corner details and 'X', metal mullions; steep hipped roofs behind parapets with rusticated chimney to each angle. Central arch has modern sign over stone plaque, 'CITY OF BIRMINGHAM PUBLIC BATHS'. Beyond this, main entrance has stone portal with bay leaf decoration to architrave, circles at corner and keyblock. Above this, stone plaque with the arms of Birmingham and 'AD 1925'. To left, tall single storey range with 3 similarly detailed windows then advanced canted corner with inserted tall wide entrance, detailed copper plaque, and square window to return. ASTON STREET elevation has, to right, a tall single storey range of 3 bays defined by pilasters below vertical recesses in the brickwork, each bay with 2 tall ground floor windows similarly detailed to front. To centre, lower range with recessed entrance under abstract voussoired brick arch with keyblock. To far left, 4-bay BOILER block with raised central clerestory. Each bay defined by full height rusticated pilasters with ground floor window, similar to front, but horizontally arranged, and below circular window within stone frame. Central stone plaque dates 1924. Plainer elevations to side and rear.
INTERIOR: ENTRANCE HALL lined with pale green and white brick tiles, with turquoise borders. Pair of arched openings to stairs at front of building with wooden stick and turned balusters. Reception vestibule has wood panelled walls, glazed to top with margin lights and corner circle detail. To right at rear, the main POOL (c.1902) in a long rectangular hall with white tiled walls with blue and brown banding, and terra cotta decoration. To both sides, narrowly arcaded cubicles with terracotta arches studded with ball ornament. Roof structure of bolted elliptical girders, pierced with quatrefoil decoration, boarded above (but with raised clerestory visible externally). East end has viewing gallery with iron balustrade of freely handled Gothic design and wide terra cotta blind arch. West end wall has a large 3-light transomed mullioned window with coloured glass set in a terra cotta frame with side panels. The pool is tile lined with bands of polychrome tiles. Former Gala Pool, now SPORTS HALL has wooden gymnasium floor over pool with wide elliptical ribs and raised clerestory with arched supports. Metal railing in 'X' pattern behind stepped gallery seating. Former laundry, now GYM has glazed brick tile walls and wooden trusses. Former private baths (c.1902), now CHANGING ROOMS has wooden trusses with rods and raised clerestory with arched braces to each bay. Original toilet (c.1902) cubicles with glazed tiles with similar blue and brown banding to pool. ENTRANCE HALL to ASTON STREET similarly tiled to main entrance hall, the wooden doors have glazed panels to top with 8 triangular lights.
HISTORY: The original Woodcock Street Baths were first opened in 1860 as Birmingham's second public baths after the passage of the 1846 Public Baths and Wash-houses Act. This Gothic style building included a large Swimming bath and suites of private baths for men and women. A steam laundry was added later, along with first class private baths and another pool in 1902. In 1926, the baths were substantially reconstructed as the building we see today, with only the present main swimming pool, former private baths space and toilets surviving from the c.1902 structure. The new establishment included a Gala Bath, private baths, and a large laundry, and was opened in April 1926.
SOURCES: The City of Birmingham Baths Department 1851-1951.

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