Handsworth Swimming Baths by Sue Bonner

So who remembers Handsworth Baths? Located on the corner of Grove Lane and Hinstock Road.Today, although still standing, it is converted into residential accommodation.

My memories only date back to when it was a Public Swimming Baths, and my Father taking me there, to learn to swim. Which I eventually accomplished after being thrown in the deep end a few times........and subsequently dragged back out again, till I got the knack of treading water! Not a recommended or ethical way to be taught your strokes.

It was also the baths that I went to socially, with me mates!

Long before that though, my mother informs me that it was a weekly outing for her. From 16 onwards, she and her friends would trek to Grove Lane, with towel under their arms, for their weekly bath. It was a treat for them, but only allowed weekly, because of the cost, 6d! They usually made the convoy on a Saturday, although this was a busy time for the baths, it ensured that they were ready for their night out. As you can see by the two entrance doors, men and women queued on seperate steps, (I remember on my school trips, that boys and girls followed this tradition too).

The attendant, wore a crisp white jacket, and resembled a prison officer........'strict and in control'. She possessed a 'key' that turned the water on, there were no taps to these huge deep white baths. Eight in all. She meticulously cleaned them between visitors.Only so much water was allowed per person, so if it was too hot, you couldn't ask for any cold, and because there were no taps, and a large queue of people behind you, it was a case of just getting into the red hot water, and carrying the appearance of a lobster as you left the establishment. Carbolic soap, still reminds my mom of the experience, a piece would be given to you by the attendant on entry. Nice to smell of carbolic soap on that SPECIAL Saturday night date! Beats Channel Number 5!

Sue Bonner

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