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Bright new future for Moseley Road Baths!

PRESS RELEASE

Baths exterior

BRIGHT NEW FUTURE FOR MOSELEY ROAD BATHS

The Moseley Road Baths Coalition is delighted that Birmingham City Council has taken the decision to keep Moseley Road Baths open for swimming until the end of March 2018. This is great news for swimmers and fans of the baths, and for the community of Balsall Heath.

The recently-formed Moseley Road Baths Coalition is made up of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, Moseley Road Baths Action Group, Historic England, the National Trust and the World Monuments Fund. The coalition team has been working with Birmingham City Council to explore a sustainable future for the baths that includes swimming, for what is unquestionably one of Birmingham’s most important heritage buildings and one of the nation’s most significant swimming pools.

The decision to keep the building open for swimming gives the Coalition, working together with Birmingham City Council, time to develop an alternative way of keeping the pool open (either through transferring operations to a Community Interest Company or via another operator), and to work on plans to bring all of the building back to life – a complex task which will require significant investment, given the scale and complexity of the backlog of conservation and building works required.

Vivienne Harrison, Chair of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths said: ‘The Friends of Moseley Road Baths are delighted that Birmingham City Council have agreed to keep our much loved swimming pool open until March next year.  For over ten years, we have been campaigning to save this locally, nationally and indeed internationally important heritage landmark and we appreciate the recognition of our efforts.  Moseley Road Baths is a vital facility for local people, a much needed meeting point which builds bridges between different sections of a diverse community and which contributes to improving health and lives in an area of high deprivation.  Of course, much still needs to be done and we look forward to working with Birmingham City Council and our coalition partners to secure a long term future for Moseley Road Baths.’

Birmingham City Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Ian Ward, said:  ‘I am delighted that the Council has made it possible for people to continue swimming at Moseley Road Baths until the end of March 2018. This will enable the Council to work with local and national partners to find a way to secure the long term future of one of Birmingham’s most important buildings, enabling people to swim there for another 100 years.’

Lucy Reid, Assistant Director of Operations at the National Trust said:  ‘Moseley Road Baths are a completely irreplaceable part of Birmingham’s history and a vital part of the city’s own story.  Thousands of Birmingham people have learnt to swim in these Baths and we want thousands more to be able to do so – this decision by Birmingham City Council is the first step in making this possible. The Friends of Moseley Road Baths and Moseley Road Baths Action Group should be thanked and congratulated for their tireless campaigning and commitment to the Baths.’

Rhodri Evans, Historic England Principal Adviser Heritage at Risk West Midlands said:  ‘We welcome the City Council’s decision to keep Moseley Road Baths open until March 2018. Moseley Road Baths is one of only 5 Grade II* baths in England and the oldest still in use for swimming. It has been on our Heritage at Risk Register since 2005 and we have already funded an Options Appraisal outlining a number of potential future uses. The additional time will enable us to continue working with the Coalition and the City Council to find a sustainable future for this significant symbol of Birmingham’s civic pride.

Professor John Darlington, Executive Director, World Monuments Fund Britain said: ‘A panel of international experts supported our view that Moseley Road Baths is unexpected, distinctive and different.  A building which speaks of a social heritage that belongs to a broad group of people rather than of fine country houses and the privileged. In 2016 it was one of only two buildings from the UK to be placed on the World Monuments Watch list. We are delighted to be a part of something that will save the Baths for future generations.’

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Why is Moseley Road Baths special?

The baths are of great heritage significance and are an important part of our city’s identity.

Moseley Road Baths are the only Grade II* baths that predate 1914 and remain in use. One of the oldest of five Grade II* listed baths in the country, they contain some unique fixtures and fittings, including a complete set of 46 private washing rooms with baths (in use until 2004), and original oak ticket offices and attendants’ kiosks.  Also, possibly the only surviving steam-heated drying racks in a British swimming pool, and a three sided spectator gallery with unique balconettes in the Gala or First Class pool.  

 

So significant are the Baths that the Friends of Moseley Road Baths secured the interest of the World Monuments Fund, who added the building to their World Monuments Watch List in 2016 of 50 important buildings and monuments from across the globe.

 

Built to encourage Balsall Heath to join the Corporation of Birmingham in 1907, the baths and the adjacent library are full of glorious details and both interior and exterior are a real testament to the designers, manufacturers and workmanship of Birmingham and Britain at this time. It spoke of a huge civic pride of a city and its people.

 

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PRESS CONTACT

 

Claire Deeley 07484 500852 / claire.deeley@nationaltrust.org.uk

All eyes on 27th June…

Hope for Moseley Road Baths?

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Many thanks  to everyone who signed Moseley Road Baths Action Group’s petition to help save swiming at MRB – well over 2000 signatures now and still rising!

We downloaded the petition on 10th June in preparation for a meeting on 27th between Ian Ward and a coalition including National Trust, Historic England, World Monuments Fund, Friends of Moseley Road Baths and Moseley Road Baths Action Group.  Earlier that day a proposal will go to Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet for approval to keep the baths open until March 2018 to allow the coalition time to find a way to a way to secure the future of our much loved pool.

We’ll find out when we meet with Ian Ward whether or not this proposal has been successful but we’re remaining positive that we’ve made a strong case for keeping swimming at Moseley Road Baths and will let you know as soon as there’s any news.

In the meantime, even though we have downloaded the petition, we’re not closing it yet and we welcome more signatures and comments!

Sign the Petition

Read the BBC News item

Read the Birmingham Mail Article

 

Sign our petition

Can we get our petition up to 1,000 or more by the end of the month? We appreciate how many of you have signed petitions over the years, but we believe that a strong show of support NOW will help us make the case for keeping the Baths open beyond its scheduled closing date of July.

Sign the petition now

The council is discussing with the Friends and others in the community, plus heritage organisations, how the baths might be kept open. The current closing date is July, but it might be extended to allow a community grouping and/or non-profit operator to be ready to take it on, while work is done on seeking funding for necessary renovation.

March Open Day – last chance to see?

Our Last Ever Open Day?

 

With Moseley Road Baths due to close in June 2017, the next open day on Saturday 18th March could well our last event at the baths for the foreseeable future.

Come along between 10am and 2pm for tours of parts of the building that are usually closed to the public and, more importantly, to find out how you can help us in our campaign to keep our pool open!

Can you spare a few hours to help out during our open day? If so let us know by emailing contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk.

How You Can Help Now!

The Moseley Road Baths Action Group is working hard to find a way to keep our pool open, liaising with Birmingham City Council as part of a coalition led by the National Trust, and including Historic England and World Monuments Fund.

In order to show that there is demand for swimming and that the pool can continue to operate outside city council control, they need your input.

Please take a few moments to fill in the survey below and help us to keep swimming at Moseley Road Baths.

Action Group progress and how you can help!

It’s been a while since we were in touch with some of you, but we can tell you a lot has been going on in our efforts to save Moseley Road Baths.  Here is an update from Karen Leach from the Moseley Road Baths Action Group.

Emblem (Rachel)

There is very much a chance that we can be successful in keeping Moseley Road Baths open for swimming and restore the building, but we will need everyone’s help in doing so. After giving you an update of our recent activities, we will outline some of the ways in which you could help and ask you to respond.

In spring last year, MRBAG was awarded funds from Historic England to undertake an Options Analysis. We commissioned National Trust and Princes Regeneration Trust to produce this, and the finished version can be found here. This excellent report has pulled together all the information on the huge heritage and community value of the baths, its state of repair, likely renovation costs, examples of other successful pools from across the country and much other useful information. It outlined some indicative options from which we have been developing our preferred options.

Meanwhile, the National Trust, Historic England and the World Monuments Fund have all identified Moseley Road Baths as a priority, and have formed a ‘coalition’ to work with Birmingham City Council on potential solutions to the renovation and longer term future of the building. This coalition has now put forward a set of proposals to Birmingham City Council as to how swimming might be continued and the building rescued from its current neglected state. This includes what we need the Council to provide as their contribution to making this work.

In outline, these proposals mean:

  • The Coalition partners, led by the National Trust, will be able to help us access heritage expertise and funding for design, feasibility work and eventual restoration of the building.
  • We have formed Moseley Road Baths CIC (community interest company) to take on responsibility for keeping swimming going at some point after the current closure date of June this year. This may involve bringing in a short term non-profit operator initially, then going on to manage the baths ourselves. Either way this will involve some volunteer time. This model is working in many other pools across the country, saving them from closure. We have won further funding and support from the Bright Ideas Fund, and local social enterprise specialist Dave Lane is helping us with this task.
  • We are asking the council’s support for a transitional period while we and they prepare for the handover.
  • All coalition partners including ourselves will continue to seek funding and raise the profile of the baths. Check out the Friends of MRB’s website for further info.

 Of course in an ideal world, we would want the City Council to continue running and staffing these baths, but it is clear that this cannot happen under current circumstances and this is why our only option for saving the baths is the one we have outlined here.

Our long-term vision for Moseley Road Baths is of a lively enterprise with swimming at the heart of the mix of uses for its exciting spaces, and possibly working with the Library to make best use of space.   To be successful, Moseley Road Baths will need to draw on its importance nationally and internationally to become a ‘destination’ with wide appeal in Birmingham and beyond, while maintaining its community roots, and respecting and celebrating the heritage of the building.

We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support from both our local community and people further afield who either care about heritage or swam here as children or both.

So, in order for this to work, we will need local expertise and passion to help govern what happens; volunteer input to manage the pool; local organisations and individuals to commit to keeping on swimming here; and crowdfunding. Any of these ways of helping is fantastic!

 To help us out, please take this short survey!

In the meantime if you do Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, please check out our social media campaign for the rest of February at #keepswimmingmrb and @moseleyrdbaths.  We’re showing what support there is for the baths. You can take part by posting a selfie or what you love about the baths, or just retweeting and reposting. And please do come to our next Open Day on 18th March.

As a final suggestion, if you do want Moseley Road Baths to be saved, it would be great if you can make sure your local councillors know this, so do be in touch with them by email or phone or in person.

We are really excited (if a little daunted!) about the future and look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Leach

On behalf of the Moseley Road Baths Action Group

Members of the Action Group are:

Ashram Moseley Housing Association, Balsall Heath Forum, Balsall Heath History Society, Birmingham Conservation Trust, Development in Social Enterprise, Friends of Moseley Road Baths, Localise WM, National Trust, RnR Organisation, St Pauls Trust

#keepswimmingatmrb

On 1st February, Friends of Moseley Road Baths are starting a new campaign which will run throughout February to demonstrate community and public support for keeping swimming at Moseley Road Baths.

This draws together a number of strands:

  • The release of a new film produced in conjunction with the World Monuments Fund which invited individuals to come and share their memories and stories about the Baths.

  • A campaign by a Birmingham photographer showing local groups who came to Moseley Road Baths to demonstrate their support including:
    • Balsall Heath WI
    • Ort Gallery
    • Birmingham Bike Polo
    • Muslim Student House Mosque
    • Moseley Yoga
  • An invitation to members of the public to share their own pictures of them visiting the Baths using the hashtags #keepswimmingmrb and #moseleyroadbaths on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Details will be posted on the Friends of Moseley Road Baths website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.

For more information contact: Kat Pearson 07713141928, Kathryn.Pearson@mail.bcu.ac.uk or visit http://www.friendsofmrb.co.uk/

Interview with David Taberer

Just before Christmas we asked you to come along to the Baths on a Sunday morning to share your thoughts about the building. Today we learnt that one of our interviewees, David Taberer, passed away suddenly last week. David and his wife Linda had travelled all the way from Droitwich and were first in the queue to be interviewed. David was absolutely charming and so passionate about his old neighbourhood.

We are very pleased to share David’s interview with you all at this time. He grew up in Balsall Heath, and like so many of you on here grew up with the Baths as his playground (along with the bomb pecks!). He recalls friends diving from the Gala Pool balcony and getting a certificate for a quarter mile.

Why do you love Moseley Road Baths? Interviewees needed!

The World Monuments Fund have asked the Friends to produce a short video in which users and supporters of the baths talk about why Moseley Road Baths are important to them and why the building and the swimming baths should be saved.

As you probably know by now this year is the 10th anniversary of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths who have campaigned to keep the Baths open. The future of the Baths is now probably at a more critical stage than ever, with closure due to take place in June 2017. Sparkhill Baths is due to open then and so the continued existence of the baths needs a really sustained campaign over the coming months.

If you would like to be involved in a short interview then please come along on Sunday 18th December, 10-12 to say a few words on camera.

Pool of Memories – A Short Documentary

We’ve very happy to share this film from Johnathan Jules – Student Documentary Film Maker and Pool Lifeguard!  We think it brilliantly captures the beauty of the building and the issues it now faces.  Let us know your thoughts too!

Pool of Memories – A Short Documentary from Johnathan Jules on Vimeo.

Johnathan writes:

“I’m a 2016 BA (Hons) Media and Communications graduate. I aimed to produce a short documentary that explains what Moseley Road Swimming Baths means to people that have worked, swam, and grew up there and to listen to what they have to say about the Moseley Road Baths from their point of view. By doing this documentary I will be showing my own personal concern by creating this documentary to be part of the movement to keep the baths open but most importantly to share the connections of people past and present who have experienced the brilliance of being part of Moseley Road Baths.”