Pupils from three local primary schools in south Birmingham have been busy capturing their favourite memories of visits to the old pool at Northfield to mark the start of construction of a brand new community facility.
Swimming lessons, birthday parties, sports classes and more will be back on the menu next year once the building is completed. In the meantime, Birmingham Community Leisure Trust (BCLT) who are rebuilding the centre in partnership with Birmingham City Council (BCC) asked children at Longwill School, St Laurence Church School and St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School to create ‘memory drawings’ reflecting how they used the Northfield facility and the enjoyment they derived from their visits. As many of the designs as possible will be displayed as a colourful collage around the external site hoardings until the centre opens in 2018.
Pupils and staff from participating schools met local councillors who led the art project, as well as the development project partners, to see where their work will be featured and hear about the exciting plans for the future at their local leisure centre and swimming pool.
It is anticipated that over 1500 children will learn to swim each week at the new Northfield Leisure Centre, with over 25 schools using the pool facilities. There will 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.
Following demolition of the old building over the winter, preparations are well under way for 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.
There are plans to celebrate the history of the original Northfield Baths, designed by the architect Henry Walter Simister and opened on 8 May 1937, 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), working in partnership with Birmingham City Council (BCC).
A fourth centre at a new site at Icknield Port Loop in Edgbaston will also be built and managed by the Trust.
While the rebuilding work continues, staff have been redeployed to other centres but all jobs have been safeguarded and additional posts will be created. It is anticipated that the new Northfield Leisure Centre will have around 50 staff when it opens.
Established in 2015, BCLT is tasked to create and maintain a first class range of health, leisure and recreational activities and facilities to serve all parts of the community. It is working in partnership with Birmingham City Council to revitalise the city’s sport and leisure centres and offer value for money leisure services.
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. The new centre is due to be completed in May 2018 when we look forward to welcoming residents throughout the community 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 £40million 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 delivering a programme of refurbishments to Fox Hollies Leisure Centre; Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre; Beeches Leisure Centre, Wyndley Leisure Centre and Billesley Tennis & Fitness Centre.