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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Next meeting – change of venue

We’ll be back in the tearoom for our next meeting on Thursday 11 Dec at 7pm.  We have recently learnt that the Baths is now due to close for swimming in January 2016 rather than September 2015, due to delays with rebuilding Sparkhill.  With a year of campaigning ahead of us we’ll be looking to form a plan of action and galvanise supporters to ensure that the doors don’t close for the final time in 12 months time.

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Volunteer during Fierce Festival

We have a great programme of events happening at the Baths over the coming week. Be a part of it! If you can help out then please e-mail events@friendsofmrb.co.uk
Are there any member/supporters who are willing to help out on the following dates and times?
THURSDAY 9th OCTOBER – 1:30pm until 8pm
SATURDAY 11th OCTOBER – 1pm until 4:30pm
SUNDAY 12th OCTOBER – 8am until 12:30pm
We are not expecting anyone to cover the complete days, but a couple of hours within these time scales would be greatly appreciated.
We are aiming to have a stall at the Baths over the 4 days (Thursday – Sunday) with books, postcards and campaign material available.
If you can help in any way, please come along to Ort Cafe at 2pm on Sunday and meet the people involved in this unique occasion.
Mark
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Meeting with Councillor Penny Holbrook

As agreed at the last Friends meeting three of us met with Cllr Holbrook the newly appointed Cabinet member for Skills, Learning and Culture.  We hoped that she would be able to update the group on progress made since the previous meeting with the Council.  In particular we hoped for a report back on the work of Council Officers in pulling together a working group from both within the Council and relevant external bodies to look at future possibilities for the building.

Jenny Austin, Joe Holyoak and Mark Gunton raised various points. This included seeing the Baths as part of the overall development plans for Moseley Road, and the negative effect a closed up building would have in the area. We also asked for an update on the proposed rebuild at Sparkhill Baths, but no information was available. We pushed the importance of the Heritage aspects of the building, trying to encourage interest in the national ‘Historic Pools Network’, and asked Councillors to attend some of the many arts events taking place at the Baths over the next few weeks.

Cllr Holbrook repeats what we have heard from all the Councillors: swimming is not viable at Moseley Road Baths, it is not part of the Council Leisure plans. Cllr Holbrook understands the historic importance of the Pool but uses a familiar argument – the money isn’t there. We will meet again but there is no fixed date at present.

This response from the Council after over a year of trying to meet with them to discuss their future plans for the building and address the concerns of swimmers and residents is unacceptable.  Despite meeting after meeting where promises have been made to dedicate Council resources to looking at viable options for the building, there is clearly no movement.  Instead, group members have dedicated their time once again to briefing a Councillor on the basic issues.  With the closure date for the building still earmarked for late next year it is crucial that supporters keep the focus on the building.  You can e-mail Cllr Holbrook directly at Penny.Holbrook@birmingham.gov.uk.

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Dates for your diary

Date of next meeting

Please note change of time and venue!
Thursday 16th October
, 7pm – 9pm
Tea Room at the Baths

Forthcoming Moseley Road Baths Talks

All talks are illustrated with digital slides and last approximately 1one 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.

Hall Green Local History Society, Hall Green Baptist Church, Stratford Road, Hall Green, Tuesday September 16th 2014 19:30

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

The Harborne Club, 39 Albany Road, Harborne Thursday, November 20th 2014 20:00

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

Acocks Green Local History Society, Acocks Green Library, Shirley Road, Acocks Green, Tuesday February 10th 2015 14:00

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

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

Heartlands History Group, Nechells Green Community Centre, Melvina Road, Nechells Wednesday, February 25th 2015 11:00

Yardley Conservation Group, The Trust School, St. Edburgh’s Church, Church Road, Yardley, Wednesday March 12th 2015 20:00

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

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