Aston University invests in historic swimming pool and sports centre

Woodcock swimming pool
Woodcock swimming pool

June 28th, 2010

Aston University’s Council has approved a capital investment programme to secure the future of the University’s historic Grade II listed Woodcock Swimming Pool and ensure that it remains open as a pool for both the University and the local community for at least the next 20 years.

The forecast cost of the project is £5 million. The Woodcock Sports Centre will receive structural renovation and refurbishment, including retaining the swimming pool and sports hall in their current format. The design includes extended gym space, improved changing facilities and a dedicated martial arts and dance studio.

The work will take place in two stages. Phase One will begin on 4th August 2010 and will be complete by September 2011, in time for the next academic year.

Mike Kirkman, Director of Campus Services at Aston, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that the University has approved the funding to keep our nationally important pool open and to enhance our current sports facilities at the Woodcock Sports Centre. The Pool is open to everyone from 7am until 10pm during the week and at weekends and is a valuable community resource. Aston University’s swimming, diving and water polo clubs train here as well as local groups such as the Warley Wasps Swimming Club. The pool also fulfils another community function - throughout the year we offer children’s swimming lessons and also sessions in a private, supportive environment for the Midlands Autism Group.‘

During the Phase One work, Aston University will be providing alternative gym facilities at Priestley Wharf which is on Birmingham Science Park, Aston, just 100 metres from campus. All the gym equipment from Woodcock Sports Centre will be relocated to Priestley Wharf, and changing facilities and showers will be provided. Existing gym memberships remain valid.

The Woodcock pool is Birmingham’s oldest operational swimming pool. The pool in use now was originally known as the First Class pool and was constructed with private glazed brick changing rooms and a viewing gallery which doubled as a bandstand at the eastern end of the pool. The site of today’s changing rooms originally housed the men’s, first class private bath department which had 18 washing baths and hot and cold running water.

In 1926, a Gala Pool was built with gallery seating for over a thousand spectators. Additional men’s and women’s private washing baths were added to the Woodcock complex soon after, as well as a large laundry and Turkish baths.

Aston University took over the Woodcock building in 1980 and it was listed two years later.

Local swimming pool historian Steve Beauchampé said: ‘The Woodcock pool is important because it is the oldest pool in Birmingham that people can still swim in. The pools from this time in Birmingham, including Woodcock, are very much of their time, and this makes them increasingly important to architectural and social historians.’


For further press information please contact Sally Finn on 0121 204 4552 or email s.l.finn1@aston.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

The Woodcock swimming pool features in the book Great Lengths: http://www.playedinbritain.co.uk/books/great-lengths.php



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