Open Day at World Monuments Fund Listed Moseley Road Baths

To mark Moseley Road Baths’ recent inclusion on the World Monuments Fund Watch List as well as the building’s 108th birthday, the Friends of Moseley Road Baths are holding an Open Day on Saturday, October 31st 2015 from 10am-4pm.


Moseley Road Baths Open Day gives the public a chance to learn about the history of this threatened Grade II* listed building, with access to normally closed areas such as the gala pool, private washing bath departments, laundry room and cold-water storage tank, as well as the boiler and filtration rooms. A highlight of the day comes at 2pm with a re-enactment of the opening ceremony following which Edwardian-period musical entertainment will be provided in the tea room and birthday cake partaken. Later, at 3pm, members of the general public who so wish may undertake a guided tour of the building. For those unable to attend the re-enactment, additional guided tours will take place at 11pm, noon and 1pm and pre-booking is advised. Entrance to Moseley Road Baths Open Day is free, and refreshments will be available in return for a small donation to the Friends of Moseley Road Baths. Additionally, Pool of Memories, the Friends’ book on the history of the baths, will be on sale for £10.


Please note that Pool 2 will be open for public swimming throughout the day and those who have never previously swum at Moseley Road Baths are especially welcome to come along and enjoy a dip in this historic Edwardian pool that Birmingham City Council currently intends to close at the end of 2016.

Moseley Road Baths is both a local and national asset under threat of closure.

Balsall Heath votes YES

The following press release was issued by Abdullah Rehman of Balsall Heath Forum and a member of the Moseley Road Baths Working Group, following the news that Balsall Heath residents voted in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan.


‘On the 8th October 2015 the community of Balsall Heath went out to vote on the Balsall Heath Neighbourhood Development Plan which was designed to transform their area.

The aims of the plan included improvements to the main thoroughfares; protect historic buildings and reopening of their train station also, creating a town square on Moseley Rd and improvements to the Ladypool Rd.

The question on the ballot paper was;
“Do you want Birmingham to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Balsall Heath to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”

This led to an overwhelming 22.28 percent turnout with 90% of residents saying ‘yes’. The turnout of 2,228 residents coming was higher than in many other council elections. zzzz
It makes me proud to be from a community who led a campaign 21 years ago to reclaim the street from pimps and drug dealers, to a new chapter which seeks to empower and puts residents in control of their ‘place’.
We are now the first neighbourhood plan for the city.

I would like to personally thank all my colleagues at the Balsall Heath Forum, local active residents, political parties and all volunteers who helped with promoting this new chapter for the neighbourhood.’

Please see a few quotes below.

Joe Hollyoak- Architect
“I am delighted we have finally got to the end with the right result after 4 years of work” “It is another significant achievement for Balsall Heath.”

Councillor Victoria Quinn
“The Balsall Heath community has shown through the Neighbourhood Plan and the vote that they shared an identity and cared about the place where they live.”
Former deputy leader of BCC-Andy Howell
“92% yes on turnout of 22%- that turnout is higher than some Council’s  elections” “I’m quite proud of the local electorate for that.”

Councillor Jamie Mckay
“Huge congratulate to Balsall Heath Forum, a shining example of local leadership and community action.”

Councillor Matt Bennett
“Very pleased that Birmingham’s first Neighbourhood plan has been approved by referendum. More to follow I hope. Well done Balsall Heath Forum”

Tony Smith
“Balsall Heath gets Neighbourhood Plan! Local democracy looks to the future in Brum!”

Georgina Johnston
“Well done.”

Councillor Tony Kennedy
“The huge majority in the Balsall Heath Referendum is a powerful mandate to drive the next phase of the area’s renaissance, we have already secured £12 million investment for a site on the Moseley road and opened up the river Rea; we must now secure a railway station and the other priorities in the plan. I thank and congratulate everyone who worked so hard to reach this day.”
I would personally like to thank all partners, political parties, local councillors and above all the community and residents for support and hard work during the past four years. We will now plan ahead to deliver on the plan and help shape the neighbourhood in the vision of the community who live in ‘OUR PLACE!’

World Monuments Fund Watch List

It was announced on 15th October in New York by World Monuments Fund President Bonnie Burnham that Moseley Road Baths has made the WMF’s 2016 World Monuments Watch List.

WMF logo final cmyk

It is one of only two buildings in the UK selected for inclusion on the 2016 World Monuments Watch List. The list is published every two years in order to focus attention on sites of architectural significance around the world that are under threat.  The Baths gets a full feature on the WMF’s website, explaining why it was chosen.

Supporters fighting to keep the Baths open have welcomed the news as recognition of the architectural importance and social significance of the Edwardian building.
Moseley Road Baths is the oldest of only three Grade II* listed swimming pools in Britain. It was opened in 1907 and the building is believed to contain the only surviving example of a laundry room with its original drying racks. In an age before laundrettes, local people would have used the room and the racks for their clothes washing.
The ground floor includes a set of pre-war private slipper baths, said to be unique. There are no other examples remaining of this type of bathing facility that was used by local people until 2004. The cubicles contain cast iron baths, some with ropes still hanging over them to help people get in and out as well as the bell system used to call attendants if bathers were in difficulties.

There are two swimming pools, one of which is still in use by local people and schools throughout the week. Both have ornate, cast-iron girders supporting the roofs and the now disused Gala Pool is lined by glazed brick dressing boxes. Only one other pool in Britain still has these; wooden partitions were more common in Victorian and Edwardian periods.

The application for World Monuments Watch listing was submitted by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths (FofMRB). The group has been campaigning to keep the swimming pool open since 2006. Dates for closure of the building have been announced by the owners, Birmingham City Council, on numerous occasions but each time, action has been postponed. FofMRB members have raised the profile of the Baths with a series of arts events and open days while a number of organisations have used the building for filming.

An application for Heritage Lottery Fund support was due to be submitted but this had to be abandoned after Birmingham City Council withdrew its support. The building is now expected to close before the end of 2016.

Commenting on the inclusion of Moseley Road Baths on the 2016 World Monuments Watch, Mark Gunton, Treasurer of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths said, ‘Obviously we’re delighted to have been included but we know that this isn’t the solution to the crisis facing Moseley Road Baths. We still have to work hard to get organisations and individuals to commit to saving the building, keeping it open as an active swimming pool and to finding additional activities to make it a viable concern. The great thing about the Watch listing is that it focuses attention on our campaign and hopefully will help to open new doors for us so that we can protect this wonderful part of Birmingham’s history’.

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be marking the building’s inclusion on the list through a celebratory event on 31st October, which will also mark 108 years since the building first opened its doors to the public.  More details will follow soon!

the future will be confusing

the future will be confusing…

Many of you will have seen this neon text hanging from the facade of Moseley Road Baths.  This is part of Fierce Festival’s ongoing residency at the Baths, following on from last month’s ‘Slip’ exhibition.

Will Be (2010)

Tim Etchells

presented by Fierce Festival

Playing with the performative aspects of language and the dynamic relation between form and content, the phrase ‘the future will be confusing’ is spelled out in different coloured neon letters. Presented in a disorientating rhythm of colours, the words make an uneasy promise about the nature of the future before us… As with Etchells‘ other neon pieces, Will Be draws on the artists’ fascination with the speed, clarity and vividness with which language communicates narrative, image and ideas, and at the same time its amazing propensity to create a rich field of uncertainty and ambiguity.

Tim Etchells is an artist and a writer based in the UK whose work shifts between performance, visual art and fiction. He has worked in a wide variety of contexts, notably as the leader of the world-renowned Sheffield-based performance group Forced Entertainment.

Festival Director, Harun Morrison writes:

‘It’s a work by an internationally renowned theatre maker and visual artist called Tim Etchells.  He has installed these ambivalent texts on contemporary and listed buildings all over the world.  We felt the text would be appropriate because the future of the baths is indeed and remains uncertain.

The text is purposely ambivalent and avoids bombastic sloganeering.  It resists being nauseously positive – like a bad self-help manual.  Nor is it doom mongering.  In a way one could read it as joke aimed any individual or group that takes the authoritarian position of purporting to know how the future will unfold!’

Vote to protect Moseley Road Baths

On Thursday 8th October, residents of Balsall Heath will have the opportunity to vote on whether the City should use the Neighbourhood Development Plan to help decide planning applications.  Many local people will know that the area has not been best served by planners in the past, so this is an opportunity to vote on plans which have been developed by local residents.

Local Film Maker Haqi Ali has made a short film about Thursday 8th October’s Referendum based on interviews with local residents. You can hear why they think that voting yes is a good idea.

The Neighbourhood plan is available to read online at  It includes the following policy regarding Historical buildings (apologies for the small text, we recommend using a large screen to view).

Balsall Heath residents are eligible to vote at the the same polling stations used for local and national elections.  Whilst the plan does not specify usage for the building, it does put emphasis on the building being protected and maintained by its owner.  The Baths is already registered as an ‘Asset of Community Value’, so the hope is that the plan, if passed, will secure the building (in planning terms at least) for the use of the community, and hold the Council to looking strategically at the historic buildings along that section of the Moseley Road.

Library run

At 9am on Saturday 5th September, Mark Gunton and Chris Crean, from Moseley Road Baths to deliver copies of the Pool of Memories book.

Pictures were taken at each library on the 42 miles and 4 hour round trip.

Thank you to all the library managers and staff who accepted our donations.


September updates

Campaign updates

July’s AGM (our ninth!) was yet again testament to how much interest the building generates and how passionate people are about keeping swimming there. There was a good discussion about the future strategy of the group and some very positive reportbacks from our elected officers. Mark Gunton remains as Treasurer, Philippa Webster was re-elected as Secretary and we welcome Viv Harrison as our new Chair, with our thanks and appreciation extended to outgoing Chair Jen Austin for her hard work and commitment to the Baths, which precede even the formation of our group!

Members of the group have been participating in a working group which has been set up to explore the feasibility of keeping the building open beyond the planned closure at the end of 2016. At our AGM we reaffirmed our commitment to keeping swimming at Moseley Road Baths and gave members a remit to lobby for a publicly owned and managed swimming facility to remain on site.

Birmingham Heritage Week and Fierce Festival

25878b2d-dc09-4003-95f2-cbfd142070e9Birmingham’s Inaugural Heritage Week takes place Thursday 10th September – Thursday 17th September. Throughout the week there will be a wealth of fascinating events, exhibitions, talks and tours that provide a wonderful insight into the diversity of the city’s cultures and heritage. Following on from last October’s hugely successful collaboration with Fierce Festival, the Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be hosting Birmingham Heritage Week events at the Baths, from 10th-17th September.

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 21.16.32The highlight of the event will take place on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th. Over the two days, eight artists with Birmingham connections will present new and existing work in the usually closed washing baths. There will also be a programme of short films curated by Kino 10. This programme, titled Slip, is co-organised with Fierce Festival. Featured artists include Alek Wojtulewicz, Annie Mahtani, Emily Warner, Sarah Farmer, Sheila Ghelani, Sophie Bullock and the duo Under The Plans.

The artists’ work can be viewed from 4-8pm on Friday 11th September and from 10am-4.30pm on Saturday 12th September. Entry to the works is free.

In tandem with the arts event, on Saturday 12th, the Friends Group will be conducting guided tours around the Grade II* listed building, including areas not usually open to the public. These tours will start at 12, 1, 2 and 3pm and will usually last about 30-40 minutes. Places are limited, so please arrive early.

Also on Saturday, between 1 and 2pm, there will be an allotted hour’s free swimming to encourage visitors to not only see the building, but experience it. Please note that these places are limited for the designated hour. Buoyancy aids can be provided. Any queries can be sent to

For the remainder of the Heritage Week, and beyond, the swimming pool will be open at the times shown on, so that visitors can bathe in over one hundred years of history and heritage.

Pool of Memories – Coming to a school or library near you?

With the new school year looming (I hear your cheers and sighs in equal measure!), we wanted to draw your attention to some of the excellent resources that the Friends of Moseley Road Baths have developed over the course of our ‘Pool of Memories’ project which ran from 2010-13.

Our website,, hosts just a taster of some of the resources that the Friends of Moseley Road Baths created through our three year Heritage Lottery Funded Project. Have a browse and listen to Oral History recordings, watch video interviews and download worksheets. If you are interested in developing a project around the history of the building, please contact Rachel on

Spreading our work yet further, on Saturday 5th September, some of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be travelling to community libraries around Birmingham to deliver copies of their ‘Pool of Memories’ book. Pool of Memories cover Some of the libraries local to the Baths, including the new Library of Birmingham (LOB), were given copies at the time of publication, so the Friends contacted each of the remaining libraries under the LOB umbrella offering to donate copies to each. Of the 33 contacted, 11 kindly requested copies for their stock. Starting at the Baths, the Friends will travel clockwise around Birmingham, taking pictures at each opportunity, to arrive at Stirchley Library, located next to Stirchley Baths, which will be hosting an open day. Film and Photography Moseley Road Baths is quite understandably extremely popular as a location for film and photography. Many of you have contacted us asking about using the building as a location. Film Birmingham is the body responsible for co-ordinating and supporting film and photography work across the city and they require any shoots to be insured and risk assessed. Most students will be covered by the insurance of their college or university and many professionals should have adequate Public Liability Insurance, but it is worth checking. You can fill in the on-line form or just phone them on 0121 675 3883 to learn more about what you need to put in place before you start work. We also ask that you speak with the Pool Manager, Dave Flora, to see if you can be accommodated. The pool number is 0121 464 0150. Please be aware that staff are unable to work outside of normal pool hours and that access to the building is restricted. Birmingham Heritage Forum f9276083-38af-472d-8ed4-29d945e79061We have now joined Birmingham Heritage Forum. Birmingham Heritage Forum members are organisations concerned with collections, historic sites, museums, galleries, churches, gardens and visitor services, within the Birmingham area. The Heritage Forum was established in 1991 by Birmingham City Council. Since 1997 it has been an independent society run by a committee of volunteers. 

Discover more about Heritage sites and projects across the city on the Birmingham Heritage Forum website.

New postcards now available

We have a new set of beautiful postcards available featuring both archive and current images of the building. Grab a set of either Black and White or Colour postcards from stalls and events or contact us directly at

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 21.14.06

Next meeting and a call for volunteers

Meetings are friendly and informal and we welcome new faces and fresh ideas!

Next meeting
Wednesday 9th September
Tea Room – Moseley Road Baths

Volunteer with us!

Could you help us out during the Heritage Week and Fierce Festival? If so then e-mail


Our Annual General Meeting takes place across the road from the Baths at the Ort Café at 7pm on Wednesday, 8th July.  On the Agenda we have:

  • Election of Officers (Chair, Secretary, Treasurer)
  • A report back from our current Officers
  • A report back from tonight’s Working Group meeting
  • A discussion on our strategy over the next year
  • Discussing forthcoming events.

Nominations are open for elections until the start of the AGM.  They can be sent via e-mail to

Working Group meeting TONIGHT

Tonight’s meeting (Tuesday 7th July)


What is it for?

This meeting has been called by a working group, which includes members of the ‘Friends of Moseley Road Baths’ to try and draw people together to discuss what can be done with the building in the event Birmingham City Council forging ahead with their plan to close the building for swimming next year.  The meeting will have a number of different speakers outlining different possible models for running a community pool and both individuals and organisations will be able to contribute their ideas to helping to create a strategy.

What are the aims of the group?

The working group see public swimming and heritage as being the most important factors in the future of the building.  They acknowledge that there are considerable challenges, but are eager to start a wider conversation about a way forward.

What are the details?

The meeting takes place tonight (7th July) at 7pm, St Paul’s School, Hertford Street (on the corner with Clifton Road).  All are welcome.

How can I find out more?

We will update supporters on any outcomes from the meeting through our newsletter and social media.  We will also be reporting back at our AGM.

Stakeholders’ meeting

As mentioned previously, a working group (including members of FOMRB) has formed to look into funding and development options for how the future of the Baths can be secured for both swimming and other community uses. The group is working with the Council on this. There is a meeting on 7th July, 7pm, at St Paul’s School, Hertford Street, Balsall Heath, to bring all stakeholders together to discuss options.

Do come along if you’re interested. If you have any questions, contact Karen Leach, or 0121 685 1155