A history of ‘Bournville Lane Baths’

As Stirchley Baths prepares to open its doors one last time before the building’s conversion into a community centre, local historian and member of Friends of Moseley Road Baths Steve Beauchampé looks back at the Baths’ history.

Saturday, September 3rd affords what is expected to be the last opportunity for the public to see inside the 100-year old Bournville Lane Baths. Located on the corner of Bournville Lane and Hazelwood Road in Stirchley, work is expected to commence early in 2012 to convert the building into a community centre as part of a financial deal linked to the development of a new Tesco store in Stirchley. The Baths, which closed on March 1st 1988 and which have lain derelict for several years, slowly ravaged by the weather and wildlife, will be open between 11:00am-3:00pm.

Stirchley Baths front

Designed by architect John P. Osborne, Stirchley Baths (as they were originally called) cost approximately £10,000 and were built by E. Crowder of Farm Street, Birmingham on land gifted to the Kings Norton and Northfield Urban District Council by Cadbury Brothers Ltd. At 4pm on July 19th 1910 William Cadbury laid the Foundation Stone and the following July George Cadbury Junior formally opened the building, which is now listed Grade II.

Stirchley Baths changing

Along with Aston and Handsworth, on November 9th 1911 Kings Norton was annexed as part of the Birmingham Extension Order. From this date the facility was known as Bournville Lane Baths. There was a single swimming pool (75ft x 30ft) with spectator gallery, demountable dressing cubicles, 20 private washing (or ‘slipper’) baths for men and women and a small steam (or Vapour) bath, capable of holding six people. There was also a small laundry.

With its distinctive curved single-storey frontage, Bournville Lane Baths was the first of the city’s baths to be connected to the mains water supply and were fitted with a modern circulation and filtration system supplied by Riley’s of Irlam. Located just a few hundred yards from the impressive – and also long decommissioned – Girls’ Baths at Cadburys’, the facility was developed in conjunction with the adjacent public library, while a Friend’s Meeting Hall sits directly behind.

As part of Saturday’s open day members of the public will be invited to become a ‘Friend of Stirchley Baths’, a new group dedicated to ensuring, ‘that the building serves the people of Stirchley for the next 100 years’.

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