110 Swimmers take the plunge!

After a hugely successful gathering of swimmers and pool supporters for a unique photo shoot, Attilio is now set to unveil his work to the world this Thursday.

In a truly humbling display of just how well loved our local pool is, photographer Attilio Fiumarella and the gang over at Some Cities succeeded in getting 110 swimmers together to stand in the empty Gala Pool in their swimming costumes on a sunny Sunday morning to show their love for the building – and dismay at its proposed closure.

The shoot was a massive boost to the campaign against the proposed closure of the building - earmarked for September next year.  There was such a fantastic, good natured atmosphere - it was so lovely to see so many pool users coming together.  Attilio captured a real cross section of the community who gather at the pool each week.  The event really illustrated what a diverse bunch we are - babies and toddlers lined up next to pensioners, keen lane swimmers next to 'Strokes' pupils, club swimmers alongside the Aquarobics devotees and members of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths next to pool staff.  That unique community is what we stand to lose if the pool closes.

The powerful images from the photo shoot were picked up by local news outlets, and soon the story grew to become the third most read story on the BBC News site, it was covered in the Daily Mail and we even gained coverage of our 'Warrior Spirit' as far away as Scotland!  Twitter went wild with the #100swimmers hashtag, and we even got a Tweet from Jeremy Vine!

Thanks to everyone who helped to spread the word and who shared their images and thoughts on the day.  Esther Barnes documented the shoot and has produced some lovely images.  Matthew Walters was one of the 'Terracotta Army' who took advantage of the event to take some gorgeous shots of around the building.  Proof as ever that this building continues to inspire.

Attilio's image from the photo shoot will be unveiled this Thursday July 31st, from 6.30pm, at The Old Print Works, over the road from the baths - and all are welcome - whether you participated, spread the love online or only saw the story in the press.  Attilio will be there to answer questions about the project.

IMG_4169The Friends of Moseley Road Baths want to extend a huge thank you to Attilio for his vision and talent in bringing the project about, the team at Some Cities for supporting such an ambitious and exciting project, Ian Edwards (pictured above with his loudspeaker!) for his expert direction of the swimmers, to the crew who were running round supporting Attilio, to all of the swimmers who gave up their morning to stand around in an empty pool, and of course, thanks are also due to the pool staff for accommodating the event.

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100 Swimmers

100 swimmers are needed to fill the disused Gala Pool on Sunday 20th July from 10am to form a ‘Terracotta Army’ in protest against the proposed closure of the building in September 2015.

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Photographer Attilio Fiumarella would like to gather 100 Swimmers inside the Gala Pool and immortalize them as the Terracotta Army in a magnificent and powerful picture.  It will be the Grande Finale of his photographic project “The Swimmers”, developed over the last year in Moseley Road Baths.  You can view some of the fantastic images he has created with local swimmers on his website.

The shoot will take place this Sunday July 20th from 10 AM in the Moseley Road Baths.
You just need to wear your own swimsuit and join to the other 99 swimmers!  To get involved, send a confirmation to the100swimmers@gmail.com.  There are also regular updates on the event’s Facebook Page.

 

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Thank you for coming

On Sunday 11th May, the Friends Group held a Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day.

For three busy hours that afternoon, the Friends welcomed over 100 visitors to the Baths, giving them the opportunity to see parts of the Edwardian building usually out-of-bounds, such as the Gala Pool, Slipper Baths, Boiler Room and Laundry Room.

Visitors included present and past users of the Pool, some who had not seen the building for decades, but shared their memories with Group members. Also present were current and prospective City Councillors, ahead of the forthcoming local elections.

In the Foyer of the Baths, the Group set up table-tops for campaign sheets/ideas, selling books/t-shirts/postcards and cakes/refreshment. In the area adjacent to the entrance to the Gala Pool, other members set up a banner-making table alongside members of the Balsall Heath History Society.

As people walked around the building, group members were available in each area to explain the details and history of the room they were in.

At the close of the Day, the group had sold plenty of books as well as  t-shirts, postcards and cakes raising over £150 for the Group.

Many thanks to those who attended. If you would like to help more, please contact us through our website - www.friendsofmrb.co.uk.

 

If you came to the Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day on Sunday 11th and have any photos you would like to share please email the Friends who would be happy to showcase your day at the baths.

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Make a splash at Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day

This sunday is Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day and your chance to learn about the baths’ history, take a peek behind the scenes and add your support to keep the building open for swimming.

With local elections only 11 days away from Sunday’s Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day, local candidates for Balsall Heath, Sparkbrook and Moseley wards have been invited along so they can see how important the baths are for people and for you to ask them questions about the baths’ future.

Pool 2 will also be open before the event with public swimming from 8am until 1.30pm so if you’d like the opportunity to swim in an Edwardian pool bring your swimming costume and take a dip in the beautiful pool.

Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day is free and takes place from 12:30pm – 3:30pm with refreshments available for a small donation to the Friends of Moseley Road Baths.

 

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Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day

Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day takes place on Sunday, May 11th 2014 from 1pm-4pm. It’s an opportunity to come and look behind the scenes at the Baths, and to make your voice heard ahead of the May 22nd local council elections in the campaign to save the building for swimming. We’ve invited all of the candidates for the Balsall Heath, Sparkbrook and Moseley wards along so that they can see first hand what an important facility Moseley Road Baths is, and how its threatened closure will adversely affect the community. There’ll also be an opportunity for you to ask questions, either directly, or in writing, to those candidates unable to attend.

The day will also provide an opportunity to learn about the building’s history with access to the Gala Pool, the slipper baths, laundry room and cold-water storage tank, as well as the boiler and filtration rooms, so bring your camera. And if you’ve never before swum at Moseley Road Baths, Pool 2 will be open for public swimming from 2pm onwards. Additionally, Pool of Memories, our book on the history of baths, will be on sale, along with a range of postcards and greetings cards. We’ll be giving short verbal campaign updates at various set points throughout the afternoon and all of our campaign material will be available for you to take away and use. There’ll be a banner and flag making workshop, aimed at both children and adults, whilst our friends from Balsall Heath Local History Society will be on hand to tell you what activities they are undertaking this year. Refreshments will be available, in return for a small donation (or large if you prefer!)

We hope to see you, and perhaps some of your friends and family, on Sunday, May 11th.

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Friends of Moseley Road Baths AGM

A well attended Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday 10 April in the ORT Café welcoming regular as well as new supporters. Following our public consultation on your views on the future use and management of the building the aims of the group have been amended to reflect the ambition for swimming to remain at Moseley Road but to allow for discussions on how this is best achieved.

With the local council aiming to reopen Sparkhill baths in 2015 and therefore close Moseley Road the AGM heard about a recent meeting between the group and council aimed at making every effort to seek a way to keep the baths open. Hopefully there will be more progress to come following this meeting and further dialogue with the council.

Following the business side of the AGM supporters broke into several groups looking at how best to utilise their own skills and contacts to support the campaign. With lobbying and liaison, events and media there are opportunities for supporters to work together on the campaign and we would welcome any ideas or help you can bring to the work of the group to keep Moseley Road Baths open.

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Three things you can do

Only 18 months left to save our pool!

Get on board with the Friends of Moseley Road Baths!

We’re now at an absolutely vital stage in our campaign to keep swimming at Moseley Road Baths, with only 18 months until the pool is earmarked to close.

However, we have been here in the past, and over many years the community has rallied to save this vital community facility from closure.  Our Council knows how unpopular they will be if they are seen to be the ones bolting the doors.

We have less than a year and a half to get them to reverse their decision and ensure that this beautiful and nationally important building at the heart of our community is not allowed to fall derelict, but to remain as a sign of how our neighbourhood values its heritage and health.

Here are three things that you can do – find out more below:

  1. Come along to our Annual General Meeting
  2. See how you can help with our campaigning
  3. Give us your views on the future of the building

1. Get involved and join us at our AGM

We’re really excited to be holding this year’s AGM at the lovely ORT Café, opposite the pool.  This coincides with a photo exhibition of the Baths in the café by local photographer and regular swimmer Vivienne Harrison.

The details are:

Thursday 10th April
Ort Café, Moseley Road (opposite Moseley Road Baths)
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Refreshments available from the usual ORT menu

We are taking nominations for the ‘Officer’ roles of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, so please send your nominations in advance to contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk.

2. We want your skills!

The AGM will take the form of a very hands on working group.  We are inviting all attendees to sign up to a ‘subgroup’, so that each and every person can be part of a team of people helping to drive the campaign forward and shift the widespread opposition to the Council’s plans into an increasingly vocal and effective campaign.

We know that there are a wide array of skills and contacts amongst our hundreds of supporters, so please do think about how you would like to contribute.

Our suggested ‘subgroups’ are:

  • Media – covering both press liaison and social media, including writing for our blog and newsletter and updating Facebook and Twitter.  Producing campaign literature.  Building a stock of photo for use in the campaign.
  • Lobbying and Liaison – Attending meetings with Councillors and Council Officers, attending District and Ward Committee meetings, liaising with other swimming and campaign groups, building links with local schools and community groups…
  • Events – Assisting with organising meetings, street stalls, leafleting, demonstrations, fundraisers, tours of the building.
  • Admin – Assisting with the day to day running of the group, supporting the Secretary in answering e-mails, getting notice out about meetings.

These are our suggestions, but we welcome other ideas!  Even if you are unable to attend the AGM then do please let us know via e-mail if you would like to contribute!

3. We want your views!

We are currently finalising the details of a meeting with local Councillors, Council Officers and interested parties to discuss options for the future of the building, and we are hoping that this will take place shortly before our AGM.  We want to ensure that we represent the views of supporters at this important time.  There are so many ideas for uses for the building and so many different models of ownership and management that we know our supporters have strong views on.

We have designed a short survey which should take no more than two minutes to complete.  Please, please, do share your views on the two questions around future uses for the building and future ownership and management of the building.

Go to the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9XWDQT2

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£36m for new Leisure Centres, but nothing for Moseley Road Baths?

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths asked a question to Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward at a full Council meeting.  Here is the question with the full written response we received.

Given that monies for the announced £36 million for swimming pools/leisure centres will be coming from prudential borrowing, how much will the council be paying back each year and over what period of time, and why can’t the council prudentially borrow £1m per year for 3 years to match fund a bid to Heritage Lottery to save Moseley Road Baths?

Councillor Ian Ward in reply.

The total investment in the leisure transformation is £36m. However £6m for a new Sparkhill pool is already in the long term financial plan, and there is a minimum of a further £6m from 106 funding and Sport England grants. Therefore the balance within the leisure strategy is £24m funded by prudential borrowing from within the leisure budget, of £1.8m per year. This is only funding for leisure sites, as the future operating model is that that the new and remaining sites, will be run by leisure contractors at no subsidy ( or with a potential return) to the council.

The Council would need to provide £3m of prudential borrowing to match the Heritage Lottery grant of £5m as the project cost is estimated at £8m. Even so, this project only covers the short term work needed to repair the fabric and keeps the smaller pool available. To fully restore all facilities for a long term future would cost a further £20m.

The Leisure transformation plan prioritised the very limited funding available for sports and leisure facilities and this did not extend to Moseley Road baths. The Council’s financial plans therefore include no resources to fund the interest and repayment costs of any prudential borrowing for the Baths.

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March is the month for women

We’re a little late for International Women’s Day, but to mark the day we’re concentrating this month’s campaign on the ever popular ‘Women Only’ swim sessions.

Women-only Swimming Sessions

In recent years there has been a substantial increase in demand for women-only swimming sessions, especially in inner-city areas of Birmingham such as Balsall Heath. With this demand expected to continue rising, it is essential that Birmingham City Council provides appropriate facilities.

For cultural or religious reasons, a high proportion of women in the Balsall Heath area choose not to swim with men or with male lifeguards present. Some use swimming as an opportunity to socialise with other women, some feel more comfortable and less self-conscious swimming when men are not present. For others, women-only sessions provide the only opportunity for them to swim with their young children.

Moseley Road’s pool has an excellent layout for women-only swimming due to the fact that it is not open to public gaze once the pool doors are closed. The high windows offer privacy whilst the poolside dressing cubicles are ideal for the self-conscious, in contrast to new-build pools with open plan changing areas.

It can be argued that if large numbers of women cannot, or choose not, to swim in the presence of men then the closure of suitable facilities such as Moseley Road Baths will effectively exclude them from swimming. It is crucial that public services meet the needs of the community, especially when these needs have been clearly stated by the heavy demand for women-only provision.

Far from removing the women-only sessions at Moseley Road Baths, additional slots would be welcomed both by individual women and women’s groups. Many such organisations have identified healthy living as a priority, finding that swimming not only promotes exercise but is also an effective and enjoyable way for women to socialise, gain confidence and form networks that help in other areas of their lives. Women who take regular exercise are also more likely to encourage family members to follow suit.

Investing time and money in provision for women-only sessions has reaped substantial rewards. Crucially, it has proven to be a huge investment in the health and welfare of a substantial proportion of the community around Moseley Road Baths.

Given the income levels and lack of access to individual transport that exists amongst many of the community of women-only swimmers who currently use Moseley Road Baths, should the threatened closure of the building proceed it is highly unlikely that such women will readily transfer to Sparkhill Pool or find space at Small Heath Pool, where the timetable for women-only sessions is already full.

Maria’s experience

We received this e-mail from Maria explaining why swimming at Moseley Road Baths is so valuable for her:

I can speak for myself and many women who attend the women and children sessions, the pool gives local people a fantastic opportunity to keep fit. This is either free for children and a low fee for adults, which can benefit low income families as paying for it may be a barrier that could prevent them gaining a life skill. Many women i know go and are able to keep fit in a male free environment, which for many women for religious reasons is a huge factor in whether they attend or not. Without it they would probably find it really difficult to access a cheap alternative in a pleasant environment.

Also in school holidays the pool is well utillised by local children who under current proposals are very unlikely to go to the pool at Stratford Road. This in turn could lead to children potentially getting into mischief due to lack of activities in the area.
I think it would be a really bad idea to close the pool and ultimately would have an affect on the local community.

Swimming is a pleasure but also a valuable life skill and could save your life or others.

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Talks on the History of the Baths

Long standing member of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, and the author of ‘Pool of Memories – A History of Moseley Road Baths’ will be delivering a series of illustrated talks on the history of the building over the coming months.

All talks are illustrated with digital slides and last approximately one hour. There is usually a small admission fee (£2-£3) for non-members of the host organisation.

Copies of our book, Pool of Memories – A History of Moseley Road Baths will be on sale at these talks, priced at £12.

The Harborne Society, St. Mary’s Parish Centre, St. Mary’s Church, Vivian Road, Harborne, Wednesday, March 5th 2014 19:30

Midland Veteran Cycling Club, The Rope Walk, St. Paul’s Square, Hockley, Wednesday, April 16th 2014 20:00

Kingswinford U3A, Kingswinford Community Centre, High Street, Kingswinford, Wednesday, April 23rd 2014 14:00

Ward End and Hodge Hill Local History Society, Ward End Fire Station, Ward End, Monday July 14th 2014 19:00

Shirley U3A Group, Shirley Methodist Church, Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull, Thursday July 17th 2014 14:00

Birmingham and Midland Institute, Monday Lecture Series, Margaret Street, Monday July 21st 2014 13:00

Yardley Local History Society, South Yardley Library, Yardley Road, Yardley, Monday September 8th 2014 14:00 General Swimming Pools Talk

British Gas Retired Employees, St. Helen’s Church, St. Helens Road, Olton, Solihull, Thursday, September 18th 2014 14:30

Family Group, Hodge Hill United Reform Church, Coleshill Road, Hodge Hill, Monday September 29th 2014 19:30

Wythall History Society, Wythall Baptist Church Hall, Chapel Drive, Wythall, Friday, October 31st 2014 19:30

Tanworth-in-Arden Ladies Luncheon Club, Old Silhillians Association Clubhouse, Warwick Road, Copt Heath, Solihull, Monday, November 10th 2014 12:30 Luncheon Club Members Only

Erdington Historical Society, St. Barnabas Church, High Street, Erdington. Monday, January 12th 2015 19:30

Smethwick Local History Society, Baptist Church, Rawlings Road, Smethwick, Wednesday February 11th 2015 14:00 General Swimming Pools Talk

King’s Norton Local History Society, North Hall, The Saracen’s Head, The Green, King’s Norton, Monday February 23rd 2015 19:30

North Arden Local History Society, Spencer Lounge, Arden Hall, Water Orton Road, Castle Bromwich, Thursday May 8th 2015 20:00

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