Children from three local primary schools have been celebrating their memories of the now demolished old pool in Northfield, as construction of new leisure facilities begins.
Pupils from Longwill, St Laurence Church and St Brigid’s Catholic Primary Schools have created ‘memory drawings’ reflecting the enjoyment they felt using the old facility. Their artwork will be displayed as a colourful collage around the external site hoardings until the new centre opens in 2018.
Northfield Pool closed in June 2016 with plans for new centre managers Birmingham Community Leisure Trust, in partnership with Birmingham City Council, to build a brand new leisure centre with pool on the site.
Pupils and staff joined local councillors who led the art project, and the development project partners, on the site to see where their work will be featured and hear about the plans for the future at their local leisure centre and swimming pool.
Once the new facilities are complete, it is expected that over 1500 children will learn to swim there every week, with over 25 schools using the pool facilities. There will also be an expanded group exercise programme offering a wider range of pursuits. Children’s sports activities such as gymnastics and dance courses, as well as a new school holiday programme will be available.
The £7.7million development which will include a brand new state of the art gym, 25m pool and a teaching pool, group exercise studio and a room for community use. The centre, on the existing site on the corner of Bristol Road South and Great Stone Road, will also have car parking and cycle storage.
The original Northfield Baths, designed by the architect Henry Walter Simister and opened on 8 May 1937, will be celebrated with a mural inside the new centre.
Northfield is one of three existing leisure centres across the city being replaced by Birmingham Community Leisure Trust (BCLT), in partnership with BCC, with a fourth centre being developed at a new site at Icknield Port Loop in Edgbaston will also be built and managed by the Trust. ISG Construction plc are carrying out the construction work.
When the facility reopens in Spring 2018, existing staff, who have been redeployed during redevelopment, will return, along with new posts being created. Developers say that the new Northfield Leisure Centre will have around 50 staff when it opens.
BCLT Chair, Brian Taylor said: “We are delighted to mark today’s official start of construction here in Northfield with so many talented young citizens who will benefit for years to come from the new facilities. The exciting plans for this, our latest new leisure centre in Birmingham, continue BCLT’s successful progress towards our goal of providing high quality, modern sport and leisure facilities for all across the city.
Mr Taylor looked forward to the opening of the new centre next year. He said: “…we look forward to welcoming residents […] to a fabulous, modern building. What better incentive for everyone, young and old, to opt for a healthy lifestyle and enjoy themselves at the same time!”
Birmingham City Council is investing £7.7 million in the new leisure centre at Northfield. The project is part of a city wide investment of nearly £40 million to give Birmingham residents leisure and exercise facilities fit for the twenty first century.
Birmingham City Council’s Deputy Leader Cllr Ian Ward added: “I am delighted that our residents in Northfield and the surrounding area will soon be benefitting from a new leisure centre and I thank our partners for working with us to provide cost effective and modern facilities, and for involving the local community in this exciting project.
“Despite the considerable budgetary restraints we face, we will continue to support and encourage people to remain active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.”
Building work is being undertaken by ISG Construction plc, who were awarded the contract for new leisure centres at Erdington, Northfield, Stechford and Icknield Port Loop. BCLT is also managing and refurbishing Fox Hollies, Cocks Moors Woods, Beeches and Wyndley Leisure Centres and Billesley Tennis & Fitness Centre.
The history of Northfield baths:
- Northfield baths opened on 8th May 1937 and were the first in Birmingham to be built solely for the purpose of recreation.
- The building was designed by Henry Simister for the Birmingham Baths Committee. There were two pools with a large cafe overlooking.
- The fitness suite was added in the 1980s.
- The refurbishment in 2003 was the last major spend on the building
- Situated opposite the Black Horse on Bristol Road South, the building was considered a local landmark
- Closed in June 2016
- Demolished and rebuild begins March 2017
- Due to reopen May 2018