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, karen@localisewestmidlands.org.uk or 0121 685 1155

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June updates

In this update:

Welcome to this long overdue update on the Baths campaign and Baths related news!  There’s lots to share – and don’t forget if you want to add any items then let us know!  This month we’re covering:

  • Timetable changes and staffing issues
  • Moving forward with plans for the building?
  • Sparkhill Baths news
  • Photos from Fierce Festival
  • Time to get active?  A call out for volunteers
  • Sampad’s heritage project on the Stratford Road
  • Details of our next meeting and forthcoming AGM

When can I swim?

Staffing shortages

Many regular swimmers may be aware that there have been a number of changes to the timetable and we have learnt that this Wednesday the building was closed.  This is due to temporary staffing shortages which are hopefully being resolved with the appointment of a new Duty Manager.

Women Only sessions

There is an ongoing issue with a lack of female lifeguards to cover the Monday night Women’s Only sessions.  Monday evenings are now a mixed session but we understand that the Tuesday night Women Only session is due to be extended.  As always, do ring ahead if you are concerned.

Be Active swim times

There are new times for the popular ‘Be Active’ scheme, which enables all Birmingham residents to swim for free at designated times with a valid Leisure Card.  The Tuesday morning Public Swim has now moved to a Friday morning.  It’s proving particularly popular with pre-school kids!

Aqua session

Also, we want to give a plug for the Tuesday night Aquarobics session.  Have fun, get fit with John Currivan, ‘The Fitness Guru’.  We hear great things about this session.  It takes place on Thursday evenings at 8pm.  Ring John on 07502 010 200 for more details.


With a looming closure…

…it’s not just members of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths who are concerned about the future of the building.  Closure of Moseley Road Baths is currently pencilled in for whenever Sparkhill reopens (more on that below).  Previous attempts to push Councillors into any kind of constructive discussion on the future of the building have proved fruitless, so members of the group have met with a number of local organisations to try and look at options for the building.  It was a well attended and positive meeting, and the group were unanimous in their belief that the building should remain open for public swimming.  The group agreed the following as the outcomes we would be seeking from working together with the Council on a future for Moseley Road Baths:

  • It must stay open for swimming, alongside other uses.
  • Ideally both pools would be open for swimming but we recognise this is ambitious.
  • If only one pool can be saved, the Gala pool is preferred.
  • The building should primarily be owned and operated on a non-profit basis for community use.
  • There might be some concerns over significant residential use.

The group is willing to explore any options within these bounds.  There will be a wider meeting with all potential stakeholders, organised with the assistance of Cllr Trickett and Cllr Holbrook, at the end of June, beginning of July.


Sparkhill Baths update

We received this from the Council’s Strategic Sports Team on 11th May:

‘We are currently undertaking the work to remove the asbestos within the old building, this will then allow the final ground condition surveys to be completed.  As long as the removal of the remaining asbestos goes without any further problems, this should allow demolition to take place during the school summer holidays, with construction following soon afterwards.  Service availability is expected in December 2016.’


Fierce Festival photos

We’ve been reliving last October’s magical Fierce Festival with these lovely images sent from Artists Laura Delaney and Lisa Stewart that were taken by Fierce’s photographer.  Yet another example of how a pool of water can be a starting point for so many creative and interesting uses.


Could we have some of your time?

The Friends Group will have stalls at a couple of events during June and July and would greatly appreciate any extra help on these days, even if it is only for a couple of hours. They are:

Sunday 28th June 11am-4pm
Birmingham Lives History Fair at Trefoil House Holloway Head Birmingham B1 1QL, not far from the ‘Pagoda Island’ on the A38.
We have one of nearly 30 stalls run by local history groups, which will be in the main hall of Trefoil House (the Birmingham Girlguiding HQ).

Saturday 4th July 9am-3pm (approx.)
Moseley Festival Street Market held on both sides of the main road through Moseley Village.

Postcard distribution

Could you stick some of our ‘Let’s Keep Swimming at Moseley Road Baths’ postcards through doors on your street?  Or give some out at the school gate, in your office or in a local café?  If so then let us know and we can get a stash to you!

If anyone is willing to help, please email Mark Gunton at events@friendsofmrb.co.uk.



‘My Route’ is Sampad’s community heritage project exploring the changing history of the people, culture and landscape around Stratford Rd between Sparkbrook and Hall Green in Birmingham since the 1940s.

This exhibition will be held from Saturday 13th June to Friday 10th July, along the entire Stratford Road from Sparkbrook to Hall Green. The exhibition will feature photography by the renowned Birmingham photographer Vanley Burke, and sound installations by Brian Duffy, famous for his work with Modified Toy Orchestra. There will be a heritage trail both in physical form and as a mobile application using augmented reality, developed by local digital developers Substrakt. A touch-table map tracking the changes along the road from 1945 to present day will be available to use at the Bordesley Centre and at Hall Green Library, and a number of satellite exhibitions at nearby locations are being developed. A free publication will also accompany the exhibition.

For more details, visit http://myroute.org.uk/exhibition-trail .


Forthcoming meetings

if you have made it this far through our update then you’re probably exactly who we need to come and join us at our regular meetings!  Meetings are friendly and informal and we welcome new faces and fresh ideas!

Next meeting
Thursday 11th June
Anderton Park Children’s Centre
7.30pm prompt

AGM Notice
This is schedule for Wednesday 8th July from 6:30pm at Ort Café, opposite the Baths.
Nominations for the positions of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer are open, please send nominations to contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk

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Change of date and venue for April meeting

We know things can get pretty hectic over the Easter holidays for you busy lot, so we have decided to change the date of our next meeting to Thursday 16th April, 7:30pm with a change of venue.  We will now be meeting at the Tea Room in Moseley Road Baths.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day – a huge thank you!

What an amazing response!

Every time the Friends of Moseley Road Baths have hosted an event, we wait nervously to see if anyone will show up.  Experience should tell us not to worry, as each time we’re heartened by how many people are so eager to view the building and come for a swim!

Around 80 people alone came on a tour upstairs with others just viewing the pools, slipper baths and boiler room downstairs.  Former Baths employee John Berrill’s description of how the plant and equipment worked was both highly informative and very well received by the visitors and we’ll be arranging to record him on site soon for the archive.  The fun swims lived up to their name, with balls and floats in the pool encouraging swimmers of all ages to have a splash around together.  Unfortunately some swimmers were turned away as we had a full pool!

Visitors also took time to chat with the group about the progress of the campaign and we sold plenty of books, postcards, greetings cards and t-shirts.  Along with your generous donations we raised a healthy amount of money to plough back into our campaign and heritage work.

 

Inspired?  Join us!

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 11th March at Anderton Park Children’s Centre, 7.30pm.  We shall be gearing up for local elections, assessing what the likely scenarios are for the building post-election and planning more events.  Bring your ideas and enthusiasm!  Meetings are open to all and the venue is wheelchair accessible.

Hunted

The day also featured on BBC Radio WM’s ‘Hunted’ show, with listeners following clues to find clues hidden in the building.  Could you have guessed?  You can Listen Again by clicking here: The clue hunting begins at around 55m, the section at Moseley Road Baths starts a 1hr 29mins.

Some special thank yous

Thanks are due to all of you who took time out of their weekend to volunteer – giving tours, pouring drinks, counting swimmers, giving directions, manning stalls.  Without your efforts yesterday’s event simply would not have taken place.

As always we also wish to thank the staff at Moseley Road Baths for being so accommodating.  Year on year they work with the building’s closure looming over their heads as things gradually fall into increased disrepair.  Their commitment ensures that people keep coming back.

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Help needed – 8th March

Roll up! Roll up! We need volunteers for our ‘Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day’, next Sunday 8th from 9.30am – 2pm.  The more of us the better (and there are some seated roles so we could swap from time to time).  You may be able to serve refreshments, sell books, direct people or help with answering questions about the building.  Let us know if you can help out by e-mailing contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk.

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Radio 4 feature

Moseley Road Baths got a plug on BBC Radio 4’s ‘A History of Britain in Numbers’ this week.  Presenter Andrew Dilnot visited the pool and spoke to Steve Beauchampé about the Victorian vision that was responsible for the development of these kind of municipal buildings, particularly in Birmingham.

You can ‘Listen Again’ online, the whole programme is only 15 minutes long, Birmingham is featured from around 5:55mins.

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World Monuments Fund Application

In order to raise the profile of the building and in recognition of its unique place in our collective heritage, a World Monuments Fund 2016 Watch application has been submitted for Moseley Road Baths by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths.

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The World Mouments Fund secure the future of exceptional works of architecture through fundraising, conservation management, education, advocacy and partnership building.

 

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Sparkhill Pool and Leisure Centre reopening set back to September 2016.

Plans are now being finalised for the rebuild of Sparkhill Pool and Leisure Centre, which closed its doors in 2009 following concerns over asbestos and the steel structure of the building. The facility will include a 25 metre, six lane pool previously used as a training pool for the 2012 Olympics, a learner pool, an 80 station gym, a dance studio, community room and sauna and steam room.

Asbestos removal will start within the next few weeks with completion due by 22nd May. Demolition will commence on 1st July. The facility will be taken on by ‘Places for People Leisure Management’, formerly known as DC Leisure, the company that runs Harborne Pool. This was previously penciled in for January 2016, but we have this week learnt that this has now been set back to 30th September 2016.

The fate of Moseley Road Baths is tied up with the future of the new facility on the Stratford Road. Councillors maintain that swimmers from Balsall Heath will travel to Sparkhill, therefore they intend to close Moseley Road Baths once Sparkhill reopens. We have yet to hear whether the new opening date will result in a reprieve for Moseley Road Baths, or whether Birmingham City Council still intend to close Moseley Road Baths in January 2016.

Friends of Moseley Road Baths have questioned general access and provision for the people and schools of Balsall Heath, transport for schools (especially with more than one coach coming to the site) and the number of cycle places available.

Transport to the new pool is based on a ‘travel plan’ though it is still in draft form in the application on the website. Whilst encouraging the use of public transport, walking and cycling, the travel plan seems devised to disregard the effect that increased car use and parking will have in the vicinity. Clearly, with the difficulty of public transport from Highgate and Balsall Heath to Sparkhill baths, a vast increase in cars to the site must be expected. A traffic impact assessment does not seem to have been carried out and FoMRB have questioned this.

We have also questioned whether women-only sessions in the planned pool can be fully secluded. These sessions have always been an important and growing part of the pool’s programming yet it appears that privacy may not be able to be fully ensured.

The planning application number is 2014/07147/PA and you can find the page online here Online Standard Details and related documents here Northgate DMS :: Document List.

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Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths are hosting a ‘Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day’ on 8th March, 10am-2pm, to mark the 108th Anniversary of the building opening its doors to swimmers.  We hope to demonstrate just how wonderful and relevant the building is, in spite of Birmingham City Council’s plans to close the facility in 2016.Open day poster 2015Whilst the building itself opened on 30th October 1907 for washing and laundry facilities, swimming pools at the time were only used in warmer months, so it wasn’t until Spring 1908 that swimmers were able to take the plunge.  During winters, pools were usually emptied and boarded over for social activities, including dances, billiards and card games.  Moseley Road Baths was also used as a Casualty station during the Blitz.

On the day there will be an opportunity to take a tour of areas of the building which are normally closed to the public – previous tours have been really well received and we encourage visitors to take lots of photos!  With the building due to close its doors for the last time next year, this may be one of the last opportunities for the public to see areas such as the Gala Pool, Laundry Room, Boiler House and original Water Tank.  As well as members of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, we are also pleased to welcome former employee John Berrill who will be on hand in the plant room to answer questions.

Swimmers of all ages can head into the water for a free fun swim on us, with floats and toys in the pool between 9:15am and 11:15am.  This will be on a first come, first served basis, so arrive in good time!

Members of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths will have a stall where postcards and our book will be available to buy, and visitors can learn more about our campaign.

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Wasted Potential…

Yet another group have seen the potential of the Gala Pool as a location for filming.  Whilst the Council think that the only potential for the building is as a home for pigeons, others are desperate to get in and get filming.  This was the e-mail we received from the band.

‘I thought you may be interested to know that a fantastic pop video has just been released. The venue for the shoot was Moseley Road Baths.

You can see the result here:

Jerin Micheal was recently named as NME’s Young Photographer of the Year and was invited to direct his first pop video for Coventry band ‘The Ellipsis’. Jerin was thrilled to discover your magnificent venue for the shoot. He said “It’s in a pretty poor state now but you can still sense the former glory and historical beauty. I took some photographs and told the band about it. As soon as they saw it they fell in love with it and we decided that it would be perfect place to shoot for the video for Wasted Potential Me.”

The Ellipsis are one of Coventry’s most exciting young bands who set themselves apart from other groups by the sheer quality of their songs. One of their songs, ‘White Feather’ was heard by BBC CW and was played by Brody Swain who said, “I heard it once and couldn’t get the tune out of my head”. He later featured The Ellipsis as ‘ones to watch for 2014’, ‘Band of the Month’ and invited them to play at The Wychwood Festival.

The shoot for Wasted Potential Me was done with the full permission and co-operation of Birmingham City Council and the wonderful, dedicated staff at the baths. The band and the crew spent a great day there and are all saddened to think that the building may not saved for future generations to enjoy. It is a very special place with enormous potential.

Wasted Potential Me is released on January 23rd and will be available to download on iTunes, Google Play and Nokia Mix Radio.
Jerin’s video will be available to view on YouTube
The story of the making of the video is being featured on BBC CW on Friday morning (23rd) and in The Hinckley Times w/c 26th Jan.

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