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Saving energy, water & hard-earned cash at MRB

A guest blog by Phil Beardmore

Moseley Road Baths is a beautiful treasure of a building.  It is also very old and hasn’t had much investment over the years.  So it is no surprise that it is a building that is quite wasteful of heat, power and water.

So I was delighted in summer 2017 to be appointed by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths Action Group to produce a report on energy and water saving options at the baths.

Pool 2 roof and roof lights

The age of the building and its listed status puts limitations on what you can and can’t do.

Here are some of the key recommendations that I made for things that won’t cost too much will have a short return on investment:

  • Detect and repair all leaks of cold water, hot water and steam, and reinstate lagging on hot water and steam pipework
  • Use a pool cover on Pool 2 to prevent evaporation of water, heat loss and excessive humidity
  • Use a timer on the filtration pump
  • Upgrade all lighting in frequently used areas to LED lighting
  • Upgrade all heating and lighting controls
  • Optimise the use of electrical appliances to align with times of day when electricity is cheapest.

The following recommendations will cost more and have a longer return on investment but will nonetheless save money over their lifetimes:

  • Replace the roof above Pool 2 with a new one conforming to current standards of insulation
  • Replace the gas-fired steam boilers that supply heat to the pools, and also their heat exchangers, with either energy efficient gas, or with biomass boilers subject to further options appraisal
  • Replace the gas-fired domestic hot water boilers that supply hot water to wash basins and showers, with energy efficient gas boilers
  • Upgrade the ventilation system in Pool 2 to an energy efficient heat recovery system, with variable speed drive.

Other measures that could lead to the generation of energy and non-potable water on site include:

  • Solar electricity, with or without battery storage
  • Solar thermal, to pre-heat water to the domestic hot water boilers
  • Solar cooling, which uses the heat of the sun to optimise the refrigerant gas in a dehumidifier
  • Investigate the feasibility of rainwater harvesting and/or groundwater abstraction to provide filtered water to the pool; a paid internship with the University of Birmingham will be advertised shortly
  • Develop a business case for an energy and water services company to fund, own and operate on site generation of non-potable water and renewable energy.

I’ve also recommended that when the time is right to do so, the Moseley Road Baths CIO should engage a reputable broker of energy and water supplies in order to obtain the most competitive prices.

There is a lot to be done but the business case for investment in energy efficiency is very strong.  The good news is that Moseley Road Baths CIO is in a good position to secure the funds that could lead to saving a lot of money, and carbon dioxide emissions, in the near future.

Phil Beardmore

January 2018

Moseley Road Baths CIO will implement some of these recommendations and will work with the City Council and our other coalition partners to achieve the others. We’re really grateful to Phil for an excellent and thorough report. This is part of some development work funded by the Bright Ideas grant programme.

Seeking a new chairperson or co-chair for the new charity – MRB CIO!

Great news that as of 21st December we now have a registered charity, Moseley Road Baths CIO (charitable incorporated organisation) which will take on responsibility for running the baths.

We are seeking a chairperson or co-chair for Moseley Road Baths CIO to take forward the  community swimming venture as part of the future use and restoration of the whole building.

As you’ll know, our group of dedicated volunteers has been working together for the last two years to make this a reality. As we approach handover, the time is right to find a new chair to take it to the next level of its development.

We chose this picture to accompany our advert, because this venture is not about just an old building but about people, fun, and the continued ability of our families and neighbours to do what they love – keep swimming, stay active and learn about water safety at Moseley Road Baths.

Read more about the chair opportunity here.

Karen Leach

MRB CIO – registered charity no 1176432

A last minute backer – the Crowdfunder continues!

EXCELLENT NEWS! Crowdfunder informed us earlier today that a last minute backer has come forward to offer some match funding to our campaign.  We are in the process of finding out more and will of course share with you in due course!

This means the Crowdfunder page will be open for donations until 6th December to allow everything to be put in place.  So, for the 313 of you have already donated – THANK YOU.  At the time of writing we are a stone’s throw away from the £17,000 mark, which is frankly a little mindblowing.  If you have yet to donate, or if you know people who value the building then there is still time to make a contribution.  It has the double whammy of raising important funds and demonstrating just how much support there is to keep this important and valued building open for all to enjoy its waters.

Make a donation now

Vote for us for the Aviva Community Fund

We have a project set up on the Aviva Community Fund page and would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to give us your vote: https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/voting/project/view/17-1231

This is what we will be using funds for:

Our programme, ‘Swimming for the Future’ is central to helping secure the Baths’ longer term future and will:

  •  Recruit a team of women new to volunteering to become involved, encouraging some to become Trustees;
  •  Train a group of women, new to swimming, to help us provide cover for public swim sessions;
  •  Deliver ‘women’ and ‘women and children only’ swimming to meet key community needs
  • Ensure a well-used, much-loved community pool remains open.

The course will run for 4 weeks and we want to run 2 courses, one in January 2018 and one in March 2018. Each course will train 8 women in:

  • Royal Life Saving Society accredited lifeguard qualification
  • Level 1 Amateur Swimming Association swim teacher accredited qualification
  • Operational skills e.g. customer service skills, Health and Safety, etc.
  • Community business skills – managing community buildings, finances, etc. for Trustees – MRB CIC is currently in the process of registering as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

This course will enable more women to fulfil their potential by:

  • Helping address issues of community importance
  • Understanding that their own agency can help create positive changes in their community
  • Enabling participants to access qualifications and gain experience not normally accessible or affordable, and for some provide job ready skills
  • Ensuring that public swimming opportunities continue.

We are seeking £10,000 to cover costs for 8 women:

  • Volunteer recruitment costs = £320;
  • Swim training fees – £2,360 – £295 Lifeguard course p.p. + £2,400 – £300 Swim Teacher p.p.
  • Customer care training £1,000 – £25 p.p. x 5 sessions x 8 people
  • Community Business Training £2,000 – £50 p.p. x 5 sessions x 8 people
  • CPD monthly updates (mandatory) – £1,920 – £20 p.p. x 12 months x 8 people

We need 21 trained volunteers to cover the swim sessions between 6.00am and 9.00pm, 7 days per week.

The area does experience health inequalities. High levels of cardiovascular disease particularly affect the South Asian communities and these populations experience mortality rates higher than the Birmingham average; life expectancy rates are much worse than the rest of the city. Other residents experience unhealthy lifestyles owing to heavy Benefits dependency with drug/alcohol misuse.

Given these health statistics, it is critical that Moseley Road Baths CIC can continue to offer swimming at the pool, both as a preventative health measure but also as a well-being intervention.

Whilst MRB CIC fight to keep swimming, a coalition of organisations – including MRB CIC, Friends of Moseley Road Baths and the National Trust – is seeking capital funds to deliver urgent repairs and develop a sustainable, long term plan for the building’s use in the future.

Can you help with a clean up?

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths coalition with the Action Group, National Trust, Historic England, World Monuments Fund and Birmingham City Council is in the process of producing a comprehensive business plan to aid the retention of swimming at the Baths after March 2018. This also involves instigating a fundraising strategy that will help develop the early stages of the swimming operation. 

The next event to be held at the Baths will be on Saturday 21st October 2017 as part of this years Fierce Festival – https://wearefierce.org/events/from-chibok-to-calais. The event will be staged in the Laundry Room situated at the top of the Baths building and will be free to attend. Access to this area is via two sets of steps behind the entrance to the Plant Room.

In preparation, we have arranged a weekend clean-up of this area (Saturday 30th September-Sunday 1st October – 9am-3pm). A skip will be hired to enable us to clear the debris that litters the floor in the Laundry Room, its adjacent office and by the water tank above. Most of the waste is light and liftable, but I would strongly recommend old clothes/overalls/gloves and sturdy shoes.  Dust masks and goggles will be provided, plus any other reasonable requests. (Apologies for the short notice – the skip hire took longer than expected through BCC.)

If you could offer some time to help, that would be greatly appreciated. Please email  Mark Gunton at events@friendsofmrb.co.uk

Heritage Open Day

Following Birmingham City Council’s decision to keep MRB open until March 2018, the Friends of Moseley Road Baths are able to organise another open day as part of Birmingham Heritage Week. We will be conducting guided tours and will also be recruiting volunteers to help progress this bright future for our globally recognized Grade II* listed building.

Come along on Saturday 9th September, 10am-4pm – there will be plenty of opportunity to learn about what is currently happening with the work to retain swimming at Moseley Road Baths and learn about the history of the building.

To book a tour ‘behind the scenes’, here or phone Mark Gunton on 07801 444 075.

Celebrating a reprieve!

On Saturday, members of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths and our supporters gathered for a celebratory swim and cake to mark the exciting news that Moseley Road Baths will remain open beyond the end of this month.

Don’t forget that the pool is open over the Summer holidays. As school lessons aren’t taking place it means that there are plenty of sessions for you to enjoy a dip! Have a look at the timetable for swim times!

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?

IMG_1286

 

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.