Modernisation of West Bromwich Public Baths NEW EXTENSIONS

Baths and Bath Engineering The Official Journal of the National Association of Baths Superintendents Editor; Jenkyn Griffiths, BSc., P.A.Inst.W.E. June 1938 No.52 Vol.5 p133-139

Modernisation of West Bromwich Public Baths

THE new public baths in Lodge Road and Edward Street, equipped on modern lines, together with the extensive alterations to the original public baths in Lambard Street, mark another progressive stage in the amenities of West Bromwich.

The public baths were provided by the West Bromwich Improvement Commissioners at a cost of £9,750 and opened to the public in 1875.

Alterations and improvements were carried out in 1891-8, the first-class swimming bath being extended to 75 ft. in length, necessitating a rearrangement of the Lombard Street entrance, at a cost of £4,213. The baths were reopened in August 1898.

In 1933, the boiler and laundry plants were no longer capable of carrying out their functions, and the Baths and Estates committee decided to have them replaced and also a purification plant installed. This work was completed in 1934.

The Committee also decided to have the old baths remodelled, providing a learners’ bath and improved slipper bath accommodation; also the erection of a new first-class bath equipped in accordance with modern standards. After a Ministry of Health inquiry, sanction was received and a contract for the erection of the new building, etc., was entered into and work commenced in 1936. The site is bounded by Lodge Road, Edward Street and Lombard Street West and contains an area of approximately one acre.

Entrance Hall

Bathers enter from Edward Street through a spacious hall provided with a turnstile ticket office, giving access to the cloak-rooms for both sexes.

The turnstiles include one “stop – rush” registering inlet turnstile with the latest pattern indicator and one non registering exit turnstile, including a pair of exit gates that are opened when it is necessary to deal with a crowd of people leaving.

First Class Bath

The first-class bath hail is 116 ft. long by 84 ft. wide, with stepped galleries on both long sides for spectators. The roof is carried on reinforced concrete trusses and columns, and provided with a walking way between the barrel ceiling and the roof for access to the lighting points.

Dimensions of the swimming bath are 100 ft. long by 36 ft. wide, the depth varying from 3 ft. 6 in, to 9 ft., and it contains 147,000 gal. of water. The bath is constructed in reinforced concrete lined with 12 in. by 9 in. ivory faience tiles, the scum channel being in the same material and shade. The curb is a special non-slip pattern. Blue racing lines are provided.

Underwater floodlighting is furnished and non­-projecting steps are built in the walls of the bath at six points.

The diving stage is comprised of a 4 m. fixed platform with a springboard and fixed running board at the 3 m, heights. The springboard is so arranged as to be practically flush with the 3 m. platform surround, thus obviating the necessity of stepping on to the springboard. The approach from the 3 m. to the 5 m. height is by means of teak steps, whilst graduated platforms form the means of access from the floor to the 3 in. height. Because of their size, these graduated platforms increase the utility of the stage, nine diving points being possible as against from three to five on a normal stage. Persons are prevented from diving underneath the stage by means of tubular safety rails which can be removed when races are being held. The divers from the various platforms are also safeguarded by means of the tubular handrails carefully arranged to prevent accidents caused by people performing stunts. The springboard and platforms are also covered with fine quality coco­nut matting. The steelwork on the stage is British and the woodwork is all Columbian pine or Rangoon teak. One special feature of the stage is its rigidity, and another the facility with which it can yet be dismantled if necessary.

The water polo goals conform to competition standards and are constructed in such a manner as to be easily erected or dismantled as occasion demands, and can be stored in a small space. The frames and crossbars are manufactured from finest teak, carefully dressed arid finished. The netting is so fitted to the crossbar as to enable it to be rolled up when not in use. Brass butterfly nuts are used to secure the frames to the bath surrounds.

The diving stage and water polo goals were manufactured and erected by Messrs. Walter Dix and Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne,

Dressing boxes are situated above and below the side galleries, the lower tier having a large number, of steel lockers. The upper boxes are so constructed that they can be folded bash against the wall when the hall is required for other purposes.

Bathers pass through foot-baths on their way from the dressing boxes to the bath. Showers and foot sprays are provided on -either side of the foot­baths.

The bath surrounds, dressing boxes, steps, etc., are tiled with 6 in. by 6 in. non-slip floor tiles. The glazed wall tiling to the hall is in pale yellow for filling, with a skirting of lavender blue, and decorated Baroque frieze and door:’ frames: Glazed mottle wall tiling in green is used for the dressing accommodation on the ground floor and balcony level.

A subway surrounds the bath to accommodate the circulating pipes; etc.

Natural lighting and ventilation is provided by a large lantern light 70 ft. long with ventilators on both long sides operated by electric gearing. The ventilation is assisted by two 42 in, diameter fans fixed at each end of the roof. The lantern light is provided with an external platform for window cleaning, etc.

A maple spring floor will be fitted over the bath for use during the winter months, and “Dunlopillo” cushioning will be provided for the steppings of the spectators’ galleries.

Second Class Bath

This is in the old building and was previously known as the first class bath.

The dressing boxes have been entirely recon­structed and the entrance from Lombard-street rearranged to prevent bathers walking on the bath surrounds before changing. Foot-baths with showers and foot-sprays are installed, and lockers are furnished in each of the dressing box corridors. Lavatory accommodation has been improved, and an exit from the gallery to Edward-street provided.

Learners’ Bath

The old second class bath has been converted for use as a learners’ bath, 46 ft. by 24 ft. 4 in., the depth varying from 2 ft. 8 in. to 3 ft., and containing 20,000 gal. of water. Except for the absence of racing lines the tiling of this bath is carried out in the sable treatment as that of the first class bath.

The walls of the bath hall have been tiled to a height of 7 ft. and a row of dressing boxes constructed in terrazzo provided for the use of adults. Children use a dressing room 48 ft. long by 9 ft. wide, provided with hat and coat hooks.

Purification Plant

This plant for the three baths was as already mentioned, installed in 1934 and originally started to work on the two older baths while the third larger bath was being constructed.

Rated to treat the full 258,000 gal, of water in four hours the plant consists of two horizontal filters of elliptical cross section and rated to run at 212 gal. per sq. ft. per hour. The filters are of the maker’s duplex type and are so designed that one filter at a time is washed. By this means the diameter of the mains for the wash water is considerably reduced and at the same time the necessary levelling of these filters, amounting to some 19 ft. each in length, is very considerably simplified.

The pumping units are in duplicate and manu­factured by the makers of the purification plant, the Pulsometer Engineering Co., Ltd., London and Reading. The pumps are of their horizontal split casing type.

The aerating equipment was one of the first in the country that was fitted with the Pulsometer Engineering Co.’s “Hydrair” hydraulic air pump. To obviate including boosters the “Hydrair” was fitted direct into the filter water main leading to the aerator and since the plant is designed so that it may run whim one pump at a time the Hydrair ” air pump is rated to feed time full quantity of air required when both pumps are running but when only receiving the water discharged by one pump. A by-pass is fitted so that when the second pump is brought into operation it discharges direct into the top of the aerator, surplus air on light loads passing through the aerator and being rented to atmosphere in the usual way. By this means the only two moving parts in the whole equipment are time two centrifugal pumps.

The plant is equipped with the usual strainer box.

The raw water also receives traces of time two coagulant reagents injected by the maker’s own parallel feed chemical gear, time rate of injection being measured on a pedestal type of flow meter which gives a clear reading at eye level. The meter is arranged for internal illumination.

Ladies’ Private Baths

Entrance to the ladies’ slipper baths is from Lombard Street as before. There are 112 baths, of modern type, with shower fittings housed in terrazzo cubicles. Two sets of complete Zotofoam equipment are provided, and massage and rest room.

Men’s Private Baths

These are ordinarily entered from the Edward­ Street entrance, but arrangements have been made so that bathers can approach them from Lombard Street when the Edward Street entrance is closed to bathers during the winter mouths. There are 20 baths similar to those provided for ladies, with two sets of complete Zatafoam equipment, rest room, etc.


The plant consists of two 33 in. by 42 in. rotary washing machines with a capacity of 3,500 towels per day, one selfcontained selfbalancing centri­fugal hydro-extractor, also one continuous drying room, 10 ft. by 12 ft., which contains heating battery with Multerane pressure blower, direct­ driven electrically, and capable of changing the air in the drying room three times per minute. There is also provided one vertical two-roller mangle, electrically driven with automatic finger control one soap and soda dissolver with a capacity of 30 gal., one nest of three pitch pine washing troughs, each provided with steam, hot and cold water supply.


The building is so planned with a main entrance from Lodge Road for use during the winter for meetings, etc.

A retiring room, 38 ft. by 15 ft. is provided, adjoining the new first-class bath, with a service lift from a kitchen on the first floor. The kitchen is equipped with an up-to-date water boiler giving instantaneous supply of hot water for tea-making, and incorporating a patent system of coffee ­making.

There is also a lounge on the first floor, 22 ft. by 15 ft., and these two rooms form a self­-contained suite with a separate entrance in Edward Street and, by a connecting staircase, either or both rooms can be used tom’ cafe purposes.

A synchronous electric clock system is installed, coupled to the Town Hall master clock.

Two Cornish boilers, 21 ft. by 6 ft., are provided and are capable of evaporating 2,500 lb. of water per hour each, with a working pressure of 100lb. Each boiler is capable of heating the water in the swimming baths, calorifiers for private baths, laundry, and heating of the building.

The well pump is a Tangye “T,” 21/2 size, six-stage vertical spindle turbine, driven by an 18 h.p. vertical motor. The pump is capable of lifting 9,000 gal. of water per hour from the well 160′ ft. deep to the reserve tank provided over the engine-house. This tank has a capacity of approximately 10,000 gal., the water being distributed by means of separate mains from the tank to the various points in the building.

There are 225 steel clothes lockers in ocean green finish; these were supplied by Messrs. constructors, Ltd., Birmingham.

In connection with the material furnished by Messrs. Charles Winn and Co., Ltd., Birmingham, this was rather extensive and comprised the following: —The thirty-two private baths (these were not supplied by them) are all equipped with a 1 in. mixing valve of the make which fixes on time wall at one end of the bath and discharges into the bath through a large oval nosed delivery nozzle. It is operated by a loose key under the control of the attendant only, from the inside of the bath cubicle. Special supply pipes are incorporated which bring the supplies through the floor, and all is chromium plated knish. Six of the baths in the ladies’ department and 10 in the men’s department are equipped with independent overhead showers, each with a 1/2 in. mixing valve to give cold, tepid and hot, which is under the control of the bather. These 1/2 in. mixing valves take their supplies from special tappings on the inlets of the bath filling valves and discharge through one of the “Economic” patent sprayers. In each case where a shower is fitted there is a chromium plated tubular curtain rail along the front of the bath, and a green waterproof curtain. All fittings throughout are chromium plated.

Each of the foam baths is equipped with a 1 in, bath filling mixing valve similar to those in use in the slipper baths, a tapping being taken off the hot water supply and running through chromium plated pipe to a 1/2 in. tap at the side of the bath, with a length of rubber tube to introduce hot water to the bottom of the foam bath.

All slipper baths and foam baths are equipped with the heavy cast iron 2 in. waste valve, with gunmetal working parts and chromium plated exposed parts. The waste valves are operated from the corridor by a loose key and under the sole control of the attendant. The waste valve, itself, is situated under the concrete floor and carried on special supporting brackets to the underside of the floor. These valves discharge into gullies in the basement. The operating mechanism which comes through the floor, and file grid in the bath itself, are chromium plated.

In connection with file foot-sprays and showers for , both sexes on either side of the swimming baths, each set comprises two automatic patent foot-sprays, and two “Economic” shower fittings, all operated by self-closing valves and being overhead type for males, and shoulder ­height type for females. Each set of two foot­ sprays and two showers is controlled by a ¾ in. “Economic” mixing valve, and there is also incorporated a draw-off tap for introducing hot water into the sunken foot-trays. The firm supplied each of the six sets of fittings complete with all pipework to connect to supplies below floor, or at high level, all exposed fittings and pipework being chromium plated.

Messrs. Charles Winn also supplied wall pattern drinking fountains, and a number of steam and water valves for use in connection with the purification and heating plant.

Constructional Details

The new buildings are designed in a modern free rendering of the classic style. The eleva­tions are carried out in local sand-faced bricks with reconstructed stone dressings. The roof of the first class bath is covered with slates, and the flat roofs with asphalt.

The floors of the entrance hall, cloak room,  private baths and lavatories (except where used by bare feet) are carried out in terrazzo, together with the wall linings in private baths and lavatories. The entrance hall has a soft blue ripple glazed wall tiling.

Doors throughout are of flush type in oak or teak. The dressing bores in the gala bath are constructed of teak, and everything has been done to reduce maintenance cost to a minimum.

Engineers and Contractors

The buildings have been erected, with modi­fications, in accordance with plans prepared by Mr. A. D. Greatorex, M.Inst.C.E., when Borough Surveyor. The architectural work was carried out by Mr. Lowe, Chief architectural assistant, and Mr. J. Hall, M.N.A.B.S., the baths superintendent, supervised the engineering section of the work. The reinforced concrete work was designed by the British Reinforced Concrete Engineering Co., Ltd., Stafford, and the electrical work was designed and carried out wider the superintendence of the Borough Electrical Engineer, Mr. W. A. Jackson, Assoc. M.Inst.E.E. The whole of the scheme has been carried out under the direction and supervision of the Borough Engineer and Surveyor, Mr. D. Ellison, Assoc. M.Inst.C.E.

The building work was executed by Messrs. Parsons and Morrin, Ltd., contractors, Birmingham. The following were amongst the sub-contractors:-Sanitary fittings-Wm. Arnold and Sons. Ltd., West Bromwich; turnstyles – Bayliss, Jones and Bayliss, Ltd., Wolver­hampton; fans – Keith, Blackman, Ltd., London; heating – the Brightside Foundry and Engineer­ing Co., Ltd., Birmingham; terrazzo – the Carrara Marble Co. (Liverpool). Ltd.; glazed wall tiling – Cartel and C0., Ltd., Poole, Dorset; ironmongery – Lockerbie and Wilkinson (Bir­mingham), Ltd.. Tipton. Staffs; non-slip floor tiling – S.G.B. (Dudley), Ltd.; faience lining – ­Shaws Glazed Brick Co. , Ltd., Darwen; foam bath equipment – Soapless Foam, Ltd.. London; flush doors – Venesta, Ltd.. London.


Coun. A. Guest, Chairman of the Baths and Estates Committee, County Borough of West Bromwich, opened the new public baths in April last. (1938)

Last updated 17 January 2012

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2 Responses to “Modernisation of West Bromwich Public Baths NEW EXTENSIONS”

  1. Stephen Fawbert says:

    This the original design by my grandfather Bernard Lowe who was the architect. He had the tiles made by Poole pottery. He thought it one of his best buildings

    • Carl Evans says:

      Hi, Stephen Thank you for posting this item. It is an excellent contribution to the archive.

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