There’s over 100 years of history in the foundations of the Sir Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre.
The pool at Sport Aston is Birmingham’s oldest operating pool and one of the oldest in Britain. The stunning Victorian structure was originally built in 1860 and called Woodcock Street Baths, where there has now been a pool on the site for 153 years!
Since 1860 the centre has been redeveloped three times, once in 1902 again in 1920 and most recently in 2010. In 1902 the pool open to the public today was designed as a “First Class Pool” for the area, the most prestigious and sort after swimming venues of the time. First class private baths and a steam laundry were also built, which have now been converted into the wet changing area.
There was another major refurbishment in the 1920s with the addition of a Gala Pool, private baths and laundry room. A couple of decades later, Woodcocked played its part in World War 2, the Gala Pool was covered and acted as a riffle training range for British forces. Once the war finished it was uncovered and went back to being used as a pool.
The centre was taken over by Aston University in the 1980s when the Gala Pool was permanently covered and converted into a sports hall. The 1902 pool remained as it was and the laundry room was converted into the gym and dance studio we know today.
After standing for over 100 years the centre was starting to show it age, so in 2010 the centre had around £8million spent to refurbish and update it. The 1902 pool has been kept along with the original changing cubicles, maintaining beautiful period features. The outside of the building also looks very similar to how it looked in 1902.
Today, Woodcock has a gym with over 100 pieces of equipment, two sports hall, two martial arts/dance studios, two squash courts and changing for all the facilities. The facility is used by Aston students and staff, members of the public, as well as playing host to major tournaments in the West Midlands.