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    Swimming beyond the Metropolis: The Kent Street Baths in Victorian Birmingham

    Day, D ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6511-1014 and Roberts, M (2021) Swimming beyond the Metropolis: The Kent Street Baths in Victorian Birmingham. Midland History, 46 (2). pp. 192-206. ISSN 0047-729X

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    Abstract

    Throughout the Victorian era, the availability of facilities and prevailing social attitudes were important influences on the swimming landscape. Middle-class concerns about the working classes led to the creation of municipal swimming baths following Acts of Parliament in 1846 and 1878 and these became hubs for the development of local swimming communities incorporating teachers, baths staff and users. Previously, swimming had been dependent on individual entrepreneurs, swimming professors, mostly operating in London, but amateur swimmers assumed control of the sport through their creation of clubs and the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), which created the Midland Counties ASA. This paper draws on a range of sources, including archives, newspapers, and census records, to illustrate these transitions in the Midlands through a case study of the first 50 years of operation at the Kent Street Baths in Birmingham, which demonstrates the ways in which one local swimming community evolved, expanded and changed.

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