The Friends of Moseley Road Baths group is 5 years old! We were born at a public meeting attended by around 100 people, held at Moseley Road Methodist Church on Monday, November 27th 2006.
In an age when many people have such full work, family and social commitments it takes a lot to keep a community group such as ours going. Many well-intentioned organisations never make it to their fifth birthday, so it’s testament to those volunteers who give so freely of their time for a cause they feel passionately about that the group has made it this far and is still going strong. We’ve got a core of around a dozen regulars and others who get involved on a more ad hoc basis for events such as our annual Memories and Memorabilia Day, and conducting interviews for our Heritage Lottery Funded Pool of Memories project.
We have an excellent relationship with the staff at Moseley Road Baths, not least manager Kishor (Dave) Flora and have generally found the local media to be supportive of the building and increasingly aware of its historical importance, both locally and nationally. There have been many highlights during our first five years, but celebrating Moseley Road Baths’ 100th birthday in October 2007 with a visit from the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, establishing our online Virtual Tour and receiving a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to research the building’s history, interview past and present MRB users and help local schoolchildren make films about the baths and their social history, are perhaps amongst the most memorable.
We’ve met some amazing people, such as octogenarian Philip Morris, who came back to undertake a fundraising swim at the baths in 2009, the first time he’d returned since the mid-1930s! Howard Edwards and Doris Gamble (he played in dance bands at the baths, she taught youngsters to swim) are two more who come to mind, Then there are the others, such as Celia Reeves of Anderton Park School, Val and Bron from Balsall Heath Local History Society, and Ian Dungavell of The Victorian Society as well as our friends at the wonderful Victoria Baths in Manchester. None are regular Moseley Road Baths swimmers, but all are both passionate about the building and understanding of its vital importance as a community swimming pool. And a special mention for Played in Britain series editor Simon Inglis and long-term Moseley Road Baths campaigner Selina Stewart – without their enthusiasm that first meeting would never have taken place.
We must also mention Cllr. Martin Mullaney, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture. Although the long-term future of Moseley Road Baths is not yet assured, Martin has proved to be a determined supporter of the baths and has battled sceptical colleagues who might have used the structural problems experienced at MRB this year as an excuse to close the building down for good.
Finally, and undoubtedly most important of all, are those Moseley Road Baths swimmers and bathers past and present who support our events, come on our tours, join our mailing list, follow our news on Facebook, Twitter and via our website, and who can’t wait for early 2012 when Moseley Road Baths once again re-opens for business.
The Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be holding a 5th Birthday/Christmas Party at the Old Moseley Arms in Tindal Street (off Edward Road), Balsall Heath from 8pm on Friday, December 9th 2011 – we hope to see as many of you there as possible.