Birmingham – Looking Forward from 1951

The following is taken directly from The City of Birmingham Baths Department 1851 – 1951. The work was written and compiled by J. Moth M.N.A.B.S Birmingham 1951 and is presented here.

This record of the growth of the Baths Department during the one hundred years of its existence, has been compiled not only to mark the Department’s Centenary, but to give some account of the part succeeding Baths Committees have played in providing the citizens of Birmingham with a baths service of which they might well be proud.

It is no secret that in the earliest days Baths Committees sometimes found it an extremely difficult matter to obtain a majority in the Council Chamber to advance their plans for services which nowadays are accepted by all as essential to the health and recreation of the people, and what has been achieved speaks for itself.

There has always been a great demand in the City for washing bath facilities, and increasing attendances are recorded each year under this heading. As is evident from the Medical Officer of Health’s Report to the Public Health Department on the I-lousing Survey of 1946*, there are still areas where washing baths are required—mainly in those districts where no redevelopment is scheduled for some time—and sites are being acquired for the erection of further Cottage Baths where necessary.

So far as swimming is concerned, Birmingham has a fine record in the number and quality of its baths and over the years improvements, by the installation of the latest types of plant and machinery and methods of securing the most hygienic conditions were rapidly introduced. Indeed some of the earliest experiments in continuous water filtration and chlorination which were eventually to replace the somewhat haphazard emptying and filling of baths as a means of providing reasonably safe conditions, were successfully carried out in our establishments, thus more or less anticipating the Ministry of Health Order made in 1937 for such plant to be installed in all baths controlled by local authorities.

In addition to catering for the many thousands of the public who attend mainly for the pleasure of a bathe, a close co-operation has always been maintained with the Swimming Clubs and other bodies to meet the requirements of organised swimming, and the arrangements made for the schoolchildren are examples of the co-operation which exists between Corporation Departments.

It is not possible just at present due to economic conditions, to embark on the Committee’s plans for future swimming bath establishments, but there is no doubt that the buildings to be erected will be of the most up-to-date in design, and will include those features which it is realised are essential to the swimmer of today. To this end many attractive sites have been acquired in various parts of the City, and much information has been obtained by visiting baths in other Cities and Towns, both in this country and on the Continent.

In the meantime, the various establishments are undergoing extensive repair and decoration found necessary after the War years, and premises are being modernised by the installation of new plant, machinery and lighting.

We look forward to the future, but in so doing pay tribute to those who made possible the facilities we enjoy today.

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