All posts by Rachel

Important update for swimmers – changes in April

Here is an important update from Karen Leach from the Moseley Road Baths Charitable Incorporated Organisation, who will be taking on the running of swimming facilities at the Baths from the start of April.  There will be some changes to swimming timetables, lessons and prices, so do have a read and watch this space for further updates.


As you know the MRB CIO is due to take over the pool soon, and you might be wondering how this is going to affect you and your regular swimming activities. We can’t answer every question yet but here are some initial tips!

  • The new schedule is under development and will be here as soon as we can get it to you. Club and school times will be similar to now, and we’ll have some public swim sessions including women only.
  • There may be a few days’ closure after our official handover date of 3rd April, while we set up our systems and train staff and volunteers. Again we will let you know as soon as we can!
  • The price for a public swim remains the same.
  • We will not be joining the council’s membership scheme, so if you have a direct debit set up with the council which you only use for your MRB swimming, then you may want to stop this and go back to paying per session on the day. We hope to develop a membership scheme soon.
  • We will be running Be Active sessions, as now, which provide free swimming within certain times.
  • We are not permitted to join the council’s Passport to Leisure scheme, which provides concessionary swimming. We’re really sorry about this, but it is important to us to keep swimming affordable for everyone, so we will work up our own concessionary system as soon as we can.
  • Children’s swimming lessons will initially be provided through local swim school ‘Diamond’, who cost a bit more thanStrokes but have a very good reputation. As above, we hope to provide a more affordable solution for those on low incomes in the near future – sorry this is not happening straight away.
  • We are about to start formally recruiting volunteers for reception, cleaning and lifeguarding – thanks to everyone who has shown interest and we look forward to working with you! If you’ve already given us your contact details we will be in touch very soon.

Please let us have any feedback or queries! keepswimming@moseleyroadbaths.org.uk . We’re very busy preparing to operate but will reply as soon as we can.

Finally – for those that are happy in pubs and like cake… the Old Moseley Arms will be holding a Cake Bake-off to raise funds for us, on 2nd March evening. Come along, have a slice ‘for donation’ and even make a cake to enter into the competition.

Look forward to seeing you at the pool soon!

February update

Wondering what is happening with Moseley Road Baths’ future?  There was a flurry of activity last Autumn when we raised a whopping great £26,000 towards the running costs of Moseley Road Baths when it is handed over to a community organisation to manage.  Since then a lot of work has been happening behind the scenes.  Hopefully this explains a bit more about what to expect this year!

Moseley Road Baths were scheduled to close in Summer 2017.  The Moseley Road Baths Action Group (‘MRBAG’ – a wider group that included the Friends of Moseley Road Baths) came together to look into other ideas for keeping the Baths open.   This Action Group came up with a plan to run the Baths as a community venture, and after lots of discussions, the City Council agreed to let the Action Group have a go !

so . . .

from  1st April 2018,  Moseley Road Baths will be run as a Community run Baths.

The organisation in charge will be the ‘Moseley Rd Baths CIO’

What is a CIO? 

CIO stands for ‘Charitable Incorporated Organisation’

During 2016 and 2017 the Action Group worked hard in order to form themselves into an organisation that could take over the day-to-day running of the Baths, on a business-like but ‘not-for-profit’ basis.    Then they applied for charity status, which was granted in December 2017.

Caring for the building

An important part of the Action Group’s work has been to develop an Alliance with other important organisations – Birmingham City Council, the National Trust, World Monuments Fund, Historic England and others – who have specialist knowledge of caring for Heritage buildings & conserving them for a useful future. 

The role of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths (FoMRB)

The Action Group formed as a temporary grouping to secure a better future for the baths.   The Friends group is part of this group.   The Action Group has now formed Moseley Road Baths CIO which will operate MRB from April 2018.  The Friends group will also continue to exist, focusing as we always have on involving the public, by holding events and activities such as Open Days, Heritage tours of the Baths and arts events.  We will work closely with the CIO – we have many members in common.

New FoMRB members welcome!   

Meetings are held every two months in the Tea Room at the Baths.  The next meeting is Thursday 12th April at 7pm.

How you can help run the Baths:

  • Keep on swimming – use it or lose it. We need your custom to keep the Baths open
  • Remind your friends that the Baths are staying open and encourage them to swim here. You can help spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or our newsletter.
  • Train as a lifeguard
  • Train as a Receptionist
  • Volunteer for other jobs, including cleaning, maintenance and publicity
  • Become a Trustee

If interested in any of these roles please contact Karen Leach on keepswimming@moseleyroadbaths.org.uk or phone 0121 449 8348 and leave a message or ask to speak to Karen.

Celebrations as Moseley Road Baths exceeds Fundraising Target

Moseley Road Baths celebrated its 110th birthday this year and received £36,495 in gifts to keep the swimming pool open!

£26,495 of this amount was via the Crowdfunder campaign which finished on Wednesday 6th December, and £10,000 was from Awards for All to train members of the local community as lifeguards.

Moseley Road Baths had been identified for closure by Birmingham City Council, but a loud and vocal community campaign – with the support of national and international heritage organisations – led to a reprieve in the summer of 2017.  Since this decision, the Moseley Road Baths Community Interest Company (MRB CIC) has been developing a workable model for swimming and hopes to be about to take over operational responsibility for water activity from April 2018. The money from Awards for All and the amazing support from the Crowdfunder will play a large part in this.

There has been celebrity as well as community support throughout this campaign, which was launched by comedy character Barbara Nice. Joe Lycett, Adil Ray (Citizen Khan) and Annette Badland all contributed to and publicly supported the crowdfunder. Annette even appeared at the Baths for photographs and an appearance on Midlands Today! Benjamin Zephaniah tweeted his memories of the building and his support for our campaign.

One of the MRB CIC Directors, Kat Pearson, led the crowdfunding and said;

“We are overwhelmed by the final Crowdfunder total and at the level of support we’ve had throughout 2017. This isn’t just about the money we’ve raised, it is a demonstration of the strength of feeling throughout Birmingham and further afield that this pool is an asset which needs to be kept open. We are also incredibly fortunate to have received the Awards for All grant which will enable us to start training lifeguards and other volunteers as soon as possible.”

Details of the Crowdfunder:

  • 345 people donated a total of £26,495- including £8,750 from Birmingham City Council’s Community Innovation Fund.
  • Not including this match funding this is an average pledge of approximately £51.
  • The most popular donation amount was £20 (this wasn’t a pledge amount with a reward attached so is an excellent testament to the support for keeping the baths open!)
  • 39 people claimed a print as a reward and will receive either a photograph or watercolour of the Baths donated by local photographer Viv Harrison, and artist Jane Tavener (see attached).
  • 65 people will receive our specially commissioned pin badge designed by local designer Kerry Leslie.

Birmingham City Council continues to work with the group to support their plans to operate the baths as a community run pool, and also with other heritage partners such as Historic England, National Trust and World Monuments Fund to plan for the longer term renovation of this Grade II* listed building.

Your memories – Part 2

Here are some of the Birmingham swimming memories you’ve shared with us. What has been amazing is how many generations have swum and still swim at Moseley Road Baths and the impact that some of our teachers (especially Mrs Yates!) had.

“Moseley Baths is where me and my sister and my mother all learnt to swim.  We would go over to Moseley from Solihull (long before Tudor Grange Baths were built) once a week and change in the changing huts around the pool and have our lessons with Mr Eggeson and Mrs Yates.  Both quite fierce and the pool seemed enormous and the sides incredibly high once you were in.  We were only 6 / 7 years old and I am now going to be 60 – so a long long time ago. The swimming teachers had long poles to reach out into the middle of the pool to grab you or assist you if you sank or panicked!  My mother (now 85) had never learned to swim as a child and so had lessons there too.  She was terrified but Mrs Yates got her swimming and she enjoyed it from then on. It would be a great shame to lose such a historic building and such useful and quirky facilities.  I am sure they can attract visitors for lots of different functions for it to be kept and used for future generations.” – Karen

 “I learned to swim in Moseley Road baths in about 1963. I was a comparatively late learner – I must have been about 12 at the time. My school swimming teacher had been towing me across the pool in Stourbridge for a couple of years without my learning to swim a single stroke. Finally my mother decided to take things into her own hands and hauled me off to Moseley Road for a summer holiday swimming course. I remember that the instructor, Mr Eggington, had a different teaching technique. Gone was the looped tow-rope around my chest. Instead I was given a float. I may also have had arm bands, but I don’t remember. With a float I had to work for myself to get across the pool. The important thing is that it worked, and by the time I went back to school after the summer holiday I could swim.” –Jonathan

 “Grew up swimming here and love to return because they are uniquely beautiful.” – Sarah

“In the early 60s, I remember using the pool and the bathtubs; queuing to use the tubs was quite an experience.” – Lloyd

“I learned to swim here in the early 1960s. My teacher was Mrs Yates. I will never forget my first width and the film of water that I swam beneath as Mrs Yates shouted encouragement from the side, nor the huge hook that she used to fish us out with when we were in the deep end, nor the wonderful smell of the entrance hall, nor the hula hoops that I was given as a treat after a lesson. Recently I returned for a swim. This time I noticed the beautiful tiling up the stairs, the incredible booth at the entrance and the wonderful architecture both inside and out. This building and its use must be preserved. Both are too important to be lost.” – Lewis

“I learnt how to swim at Moseley! I was a late learner due to a bad experience at another swimming baths. I started at Moseley with my new school in year 6. It was a fantastic experience and was able to gain my 10 meter badge which a huge achievement for me. I was extremely shy and anxious and I felt incredibly proud. A wonderful baths.”  – Kate

“I’m 63 now and live in Cornwall, but I still clearly remember my first swim at Moseley Rd baths – I was about 5 years old and went there in the school holidays with my big brother and swimming ring. It was the beginning of my love of swimming. I was so proud and excited when I swam my first length and gained my Free Pass! From then on I was an almost daily visitor to the baths – and often to the library next door too. I had an unhappy childhood but in that sea of unhappiness was what I considered an island of joy – that island was made up of the baths, the library and Moseley Rd Methodist Church which was opposite the baths. Each of these offered me a wonderful escape from my unhappy home life…I am hoping that the baths will still be open by next May so that I can come and swim in that place where I swam almost daily.” – Elizabeth

“My dad taught me to swim at Tiverton Road baths. I doubt they now exist, but I am still enjoying swimming at the age of 72! Keep up the good work at Moseley Road! X” – Linda

“I have always loved Moseley Road Baths. We had our school swimming Gala there every year. I loved to swim, but also the baths were a total sensory treat. The smell, a mixture of heat, chlorine and brass polish. I can hear the echoing sound of it now and see the brilliant Victorian balconies, the cubicles around the sides with the big heated pipes under the bench seats and the wooden slatted duck boards. All so cozy and amazingly clean… In the evenings, if I was going out straight from work, I would use the Public Baths. Sounds a bit yucky and very Municipal. Not so, again a real treat. The same burnished pipes and the bath in its own cubicle run in by a member of staff, like Royalty. So clean, so warm and safe with wonderful (to me at least) friction towels, warm and spotless. Last, but not least , the staff. Friendly, sensible, hard working and proud of what they did. Don’t forget the series ‘ Gangsters ‘ based in Brum they often used the baths as a location, a meeting place for the Bad guys. I feel so sad when I drive past now and am made up to think that it could be restored. Brilliant!” – Shelagh

“I learned to swim at Moseley Road Baths, and at 67 years of age I still have my certificate for swimming “one width”.” – David

“I started to swim at Moseley Road Swimming Baths in the 60s. I actually had lessons when I was around 9 years old in 1963. I progressed and joined swimming classes with a formidable lady known as Mrs Yates (or Yeats). She was an excellent swimming teacher/coach who knew how to get the best out of the children in her classes. The pool was surrounded by cubicles around the edge of the pool. As one class ended the next had to be changed and ready to start.  Late comers got a brief but effective ‘get a move on’.  Joining her classes was difficult as you had to prove that you were worthy and that you had potential.  If you were and you were prepared to work hard she would take you on.” – John

“Hi, I have very fond memories of Moseley Baths in the 1970s and early 80s. We all learnt to swim there and I remember being incredibly impressed with the grandeur of the building and feeling very proud of the Birmingham crest on the front with all the images of the different trades. I remember my Mum’s friends Aunty Pam and Aunty Pauline taking us swimming and teaching us to swim with our heads held high so we wouldn’t “mess up our hair.” Aunty Pam, in particular, always had her hair set every week so anyone who accidentally splashed her hair was in trouble! Happy times.” – Debbie

“I learned to swim 65 years ago taught by Mr Eggison in the second class pool. It must have stuck as I still do swimming training with the Worcester Triathlon Club. Later as a pupil at Moseley Grammar school I went regularly to training sessions, again in the Second Class Pool on Friday after school. The school had its annual swimming gala in the main pool.

Later as a trainee teacher I accompanied crocodiles of children from Percy Shurmer Primary School, walking up to the baths to swim and learn to swim.” – Charlie

You did it! Now for the final push!

We are completely overwhelmed by the support of each and every one of you who has generously contributed to the Moseley Road Baths Crowdfunder!  We hit our target of £13,552 with five days to go before our fundraiser comes to an end.

However, not ones to rest on our laurels, we are pushing to see if we can bump it up to £17,500 by 3:44pm on Wednesday 22nd November.  Can we stretch the target to help us meet more of the running costs for the first year? There’s the costs of general maintenance helping keeping everything in working order that needs to be met; we would also like to raise more funds to cover those ‘rainy days’ – those unexpected bills that just might happen.

It’s a tough ask, but we  know the passion of our supporters – and we also know that there are still so many people that we haven’t yet managed to reach.   Can you help spread the word?  Remember, we have until Wednesday afternoon to get all of the funds in – so if you have collected money offline you will need to add that too!

Support us now!

December closures and Tuesday evenings

Here are some dates for your diaries to make sure you don’t turn up at the pool only to find it closed!

First up, there are staffing issues on Tuesday evenings, which mean that Tuesday evening sessions will be cancelled on the 14th November and 21st November.  Hopefully this can be remedied if our Crowdfunder raises the funds to train up more lifeguards – if you haven’t yet contributed then please do!

Go to the Crowdfunder website

IMG-0922

Then in December, those of you who were looking to get some swimming in over the festive period will be disappointed, but hopefully this closure will be worthwhile!  The flooring is being replaced on the poolside, so the building will be closed whilst this work takes place.  It will be closed from Monday 18th December through to Wednesday 3rd January when it is due to re-open at 3:30pm.  We have been told that it will be open on the morning of Thursday 21st December (7am-1:30pm), but we do recommend ringing in advance on 0121 464 0150 to see if the water is up to temperature!

Your memories – Part 1

One of the best things about campaigning for Moseley Road Baths is getting to hear so many memories about what a special place it is for so many people. We’ve had so many comments via the Crowdfunder, the petition, and via the National Trust mail-out that we’ve decided to compile a few of them for you to enjoy.

This post focusses on the building and why people support our campaign, look out for our next post which will focus on memories of swimming at Moseley Road Baths. Sometimes it seems like there’s not anyone in South Birmingham who didn’t learn to swim here!

“I swam there, my children learned to swim there and swim there still, and I would like the baths available for my grandchildren to use – but  mainly, I wish to see this beautiful building preserved for all local people and visitors to the city – it is our heritage” – Sue

“I learned to swim and dive at the bath in the 50s. I lived on the Moseley Road when the sheep and cattle were driven down the road to the abattoir in Cheapside. I lived in a fruit shop next to the park and went to the nearby school. I think it was called Chandon Road. We use to walk to the baths…I am now seventy years old, so it’s been a long time ago since I swam there. I will come and have a swim one of the days for old times sake.

Thank you.” – George

“I went to the baths as a child in 50s and 60s too though we also went to Kings Heath baths. I hope you’ll be as successful as Bramley baths in Leeds – do visit!” – Mike

“Moseley Road Baths have very fond memories for me. Both my school and scouts held “Swimming Galas” there in the mid/late 1960’s. It was a place of fun and excitement with your friends. The events were always in the evening during late Autumn and Winter and the contrast between the cold dark evening and the warm chlorine air of the baths was special. Save it. It is a wonderful building full of Brummie memories.” – Andrew

“We need to do what we can to save this important part of our local community. It is part of our history and for the future health and fitness of our community…We need to protect our history and vital local services so please support this great project.” – Ginny

“I swim at this pool and so do my family. It is beautiful, it is local and it is one of the few amenities Balsall Heath has as a community. It is architecturally and historically important but also a well-used and well-loved hub for our local community.” – Ann

“It’s my local pool and a beautiful landmark.” – Asma

 “Although my daughter is now 32yrs and has moved away from Birmingham, she and I have many fond memories of Moseley Road Baths where she swam every week for a number of years learning and performing synchronised swimming. The building always amazed me in its glorious décor and different areas in which to enjoy it. I do hope that the combined efforts of the campaign to save the baths will have a positive outcome.” – Sylvia

“Growing up in Balsall Heath, having access to an affordable swimming baths was massively important and without it I doubt I would’ve learnt to swim… I think it’s important for kids to have local access to leisure facilities, especially in inner city areas.” – Neville

“A beautiful building, with a great past and one which deserves a future! :)” – Satish

 “In the early 90s, I saw a performance of Canute the King by the theatre group ‘Stan’s Cafe’ at Moseley Road Swimming Baths. Using the pool as the set together with dramatic lighting and projections was highly creative and visually stunning. It was remarkable and highly memorable. Why not do it again!?” – Howard

“Exercise is critical for our healthy future, and reduction in access for today’s youth will have detrimental effect on society.” – Khalid

“As a former pupil at Moseley Road Art School from 1960-65 (opposite the baths) we used to go swimming during our lunch break although we had to be quick as we didn’t have much time. They are a fantastic facility and the craftmanship that was put into buildings of that era is something we don’t see in today’s buildings.” – Phillip

“I swim twice every week at these baths and they are a lifeline for the local community, schools and those in need of exercise and friendship.” – Margaret

 

Life-long learning at Moseley Road Baths

Kat Pearson writes about her experiences in the campaign to save Moseley Road Baths.

When I do any event or post on social media for Moseley Road Baths (MRB), people will always talk to me about the pool being where their love of swimming began, or how their children and grandchildren are currently learning to swim there. This is part of what makes it such a special place.

Although I love swimming at Moseley Road Baths, my experience of learning there has been a very different one. I’m a part-time student studying Conservation of the Historic Environment at Birmingham City University and I’ve been involved with the Baths for over two years. My involvement started with a project writing a Conservation Plan for an at-risk location. I chose Moseley Road Baths because it’s a beautiful Grade II* listed building which is significant to the city, and as someone who’s lived in Birmingham for over 10 years I’ve always loved swimming there. For me it was also really important that I worked on a building that was under threat but had community support and an active Friends group working to save it, so that my studies could hopefully feed in to that.

After I finished my project I was asked to join the Moseley Road Baths Action Group. We are working as part of a coalition with the National Trust, World Monuments Fund, Historic England, and the Friends of Moseley Road Baths alongside Birmingham City Council to hopefully create a sustainable future as a swimming pool for Moseley Road Baths. I am now a director of the Community Interest Company (MRB CIC) that we’ve set up to enable us to take over swimming provision from the council next year, and am helping to lead on things such as social media engagement and fundraising especially for our Crowdfunder.

Being able to be involved in such a high-profile campaign working with national and international heritage bodies at this stage in my career has been invaluable to me, and I have learned so much from working with so many skilled and enthusiastic people. I also didn’t envisage when I started thinking about future options for the building as a university project, that within two years I would be a director of an organisation which is hoping to run a community swimming pool!

As our campaign to keep swimming at Moseley Road Baths continues, engagement with universities and colleges is going to be vital to its success. We are currently working with students from the ‘Ironbridge Institute for Cultural Heritage’ and the ‘Department of Film & Creative Writing’ at the University of Birmingham and they are bringing new skills and ideas to our group as well as allowing us to reach a different audience. We’ll also be looking to train and employ volunteer staff including lifeguards, and I hope that some of these will be students who can benefit from gaining experience in this amazing building as much as I have.

If you’re a student (or if you’re not!) and you want to get involved please follow us on social media or get in contact via keepswimming@moseleyroadbaths.org.uk to find out how you can help.

 

So much to report…

There has been so much happening in the past few weeks that it’s hard to know where to begin!  We’ve been updating supporters over on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, but if Social Media isn’t you thing then there’s lots to report…

The biggest development has been the launch of our crowdfunder, which has been gathering real momentum since it launched earlier this month.  At the moment we have raised 57% of our target, a whopping £7,706 which is completely indicative of the passion our supporters have for swimming, our community and the building.  We always knew that you are a generous lot, but it’s been humbling to see the numbers steadily climb.

Today a new timetable comes into effect at Moseley Road Baths – unfortunately some sessions have been cut or shortened, so do have a look at our Timetable page and if you aren’t sure then ring ahead on 0121 464 0150 to check session times.

Meanwhile, a mob of un-named youths have been spotted outside the building, armed with…. litterpickers.  Over the weekend the group descended on the front of the Baths and proceeded to spend several hours doing an intensive clean of the facade.  Top work lads, it will be appreciated by swimmers, staff and passers by.

 

The Laundry Room hosted an event for Ort Gallery as part of Fierce Festival this weekend.  If you missed it you can view it here:

 

For a steady feed of archive and recent images do follow us on Social Media, for news and events updates sign up to our mailing list. Or, if you just prefer to check in from time to time, we’ll try to be more consistent with posting up here and all of our Instagram feed now appears on our Gallery page.

Baths reopening delayed (again!)

We are sorry to have to tell you but we have now been informed that the pool will not be re-opening on July 15th as had been hoped. Following enquiries made by our Secretary, Rachel Gillies on Tuesday (later followed up with a ‘phone call to Councillor Martin Mullaney, BCC Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture), we understand that it will be a minimum of seven weeks (possibly longer), before the Baths re-opens.

The latest problem relates to the need to strengthen and replace the scaffolding in the basement (we mentioned this issue in an earlier post, last month). BCC safety officers have now asked for a series of measures to be taken in the basement before this work can commence. Cllr Mullaney tells us that he expects these measures to be attended to in around one week, but that the strengthening work itself will take six weeks, hence the minimum seven week timeframe.

One piece of good news however is that work on the new lintel over the door in Pool 2 should be completed this week, but with Tuesday marking exactly 6 months since the pool failed to re-open after the Christmas and New Year holidays, this latest failed deadline (the fifth, we think) is a serious blow and means that local children are likely to be unable to swim at MRB for most, if not all, of the summer holidays.

We’ll keep you updated, but please check back here for further details…and do let your local councillors know how frustrating it is to have Britain’s most historic pool closed for yet another couple of months.  We would welcome your thoughts on the closure, either via e-mail or by using the comments box below.