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.

 

Vote for us for the Aviva Community Fund

We have a project set up on the Aviva Community Fund page and would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to give us your vote: https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/voting/project/view/17-1231

This is what we will be using funds for:

Our programme, ‘Swimming for the Future’ is central to helping secure the Baths’ longer term future and will:

  •  Recruit a team of women new to volunteering to become involved, encouraging some to become Trustees;
  •  Train a group of women, new to swimming, to help us provide cover for public swim sessions;
  •  Deliver ‘women’ and ‘women and children only’ swimming to meet key community needs
  • Ensure a well-used, much-loved community pool remains open.

The course will run for 4 weeks and we want to run 2 courses, one in January 2018 and one in March 2018. Each course will train 8 women in:

  • Royal Life Saving Society accredited lifeguard qualification
  • Level 1 Amateur Swimming Association swim teacher accredited qualification
  • Operational skills e.g. customer service skills, Health and Safety, etc.
  • Community business skills – managing community buildings, finances, etc. for Trustees – MRB CIC is currently in the process of registering as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

This course will enable more women to fulfil their potential by:

  • Helping address issues of community importance
  • Understanding that their own agency can help create positive changes in their community
  • Enabling participants to access qualifications and gain experience not normally accessible or affordable, and for some provide job ready skills
  • Ensuring that public swimming opportunities continue.

We are seeking £10,000 to cover costs for 8 women:

  • Volunteer recruitment costs = £320;
  • Swim training fees – £2,360 – £295 Lifeguard course p.p. + £2,400 – £300 Swim Teacher p.p.
  • Customer care training £1,000 – £25 p.p. x 5 sessions x 8 people
  • Community Business Training £2,000 – £50 p.p. x 5 sessions x 8 people
  • CPD monthly updates (mandatory) – £1,920 – £20 p.p. x 12 months x 8 people

We need 21 trained volunteers to cover the swim sessions between 6.00am and 9.00pm, 7 days per week.

The area does experience health inequalities. High levels of cardiovascular disease particularly affect the South Asian communities and these populations experience mortality rates higher than the Birmingham average; life expectancy rates are much worse than the rest of the city. Other residents experience unhealthy lifestyles owing to heavy Benefits dependency with drug/alcohol misuse.

Given these health statistics, it is critical that Moseley Road Baths CIC can continue to offer swimming at the pool, both as a preventative health measure but also as a well-being intervention.

Whilst MRB CIC fight to keep swimming, a coalition of organisations – including MRB CIC, Friends of Moseley Road Baths and the National Trust – is seeking capital funds to deliver urgent repairs and develop a sustainable, long term plan for the building’s use in the future.

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.

Can you help with a clean up?

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths coalition with the Action Group, National Trust, Historic England, World Monuments Fund and Birmingham City Council is in the process of producing a comprehensive business plan to aid the retention of swimming at the Baths after March 2018. This also involves instigating a fundraising strategy that will help develop the early stages of the swimming operation. 

The next event to be held at the Baths will be on Saturday 21st October 2017 as part of this years Fierce Festival – https://wearefierce.org/events/from-chibok-to-calais. The event will be staged in the Laundry Room situated at the top of the Baths building and will be free to attend. Access to this area is via two sets of steps behind the entrance to the Plant Room.

In preparation, we have arranged a weekend clean-up of this area (Saturday 30th September-Sunday 1st October – 9am-3pm). A skip will be hired to enable us to clear the debris that litters the floor in the Laundry Room, its adjacent office and by the water tank above. Most of the waste is light and liftable, but I would strongly recommend old clothes/overalls/gloves and sturdy shoes.  Dust masks and goggles will be provided, plus any other reasonable requests. (Apologies for the short notice – the skip hire took longer than expected through BCC.)

If you could offer some time to help, that would be greatly appreciated. Please email  Mark Gunton at events@friendsofmrb.co.uk

Heritage Open Day

Following Birmingham City Council’s decision to keep MRB open until March 2018, the Friends of Moseley Road Baths are able to organise another open day as part of Birmingham Heritage Week. We will be conducting guided tours and will also be recruiting volunteers to help progress this bright future for our globally recognized Grade II* listed building.

Come along on Saturday 9th September, 10am-4pm – there will be plenty of opportunity to learn about what is currently happening with the work to retain swimming at Moseley Road Baths and learn about the history of the building.

To book a tour ‘behind the scenes’, here or phone Mark Gunton on 07801 444 075.

Celebrating a reprieve!

On Saturday, members of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths and our supporters gathered for a celebratory swim and cake to mark the exciting news that Moseley Road Baths will remain open beyond the end of this month.

Don’t forget that the pool is open over the Summer holidays. As school lessons aren’t taking place it means that there are plenty of sessions for you to enjoy a dip! Have a look at the timetable for swim times!

Bright new future for Moseley Road Baths!

PRESS RELEASE

Baths exterior

BRIGHT NEW FUTURE FOR MOSELEY ROAD BATHS

The Moseley Road Baths Coalition is delighted that Birmingham City Council has taken the decision to keep Moseley Road Baths open for swimming until the end of March 2018. This is great news for swimmers and fans of the baths, and for the community of Balsall Heath.

The recently-formed Moseley Road Baths Coalition is made up of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, Moseley Road Baths Action Group, Historic England, the National Trust and the World Monuments Fund. The coalition team has been working with Birmingham City Council to explore a sustainable future for the baths that includes swimming, for what is unquestionably one of Birmingham’s most important heritage buildings and one of the nation’s most significant swimming pools.

The decision to keep the building open for swimming gives the Coalition, working together with Birmingham City Council, time to develop an alternative way of keeping the pool open (either through transferring operations to a Community Interest Company or via another operator), and to work on plans to bring all of the building back to life – a complex task which will require significant investment, given the scale and complexity of the backlog of conservation and building works required.

Vivienne Harrison, Chair of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths said: ‘The Friends of Moseley Road Baths are delighted that Birmingham City Council have agreed to keep our much loved swimming pool open until March next year.  For over ten years, we have been campaigning to save this locally, nationally and indeed internationally important heritage landmark and we appreciate the recognition of our efforts.  Moseley Road Baths is a vital facility for local people, a much needed meeting point which builds bridges between different sections of a diverse community and which contributes to improving health and lives in an area of high deprivation.  Of course, much still needs to be done and we look forward to working with Birmingham City Council and our coalition partners to secure a long term future for Moseley Road Baths.’

Birmingham City Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Ian Ward, said:  ‘I am delighted that the Council has made it possible for people to continue swimming at Moseley Road Baths until the end of March 2018. This will enable the Council to work with local and national partners to find a way to secure the long term future of one of Birmingham’s most important buildings, enabling people to swim there for another 100 years.’

Lucy Reid, Assistant Director of Operations at the National Trust said:  ‘Moseley Road Baths are a completely irreplaceable part of Birmingham’s history and a vital part of the city’s own story.  Thousands of Birmingham people have learnt to swim in these Baths and we want thousands more to be able to do so – this decision by Birmingham City Council is the first step in making this possible. The Friends of Moseley Road Baths and Moseley Road Baths Action Group should be thanked and congratulated for their tireless campaigning and commitment to the Baths.’

Rhodri Evans, Historic England Principal Adviser Heritage at Risk West Midlands said:  ‘We welcome the City Council’s decision to keep Moseley Road Baths open until March 2018. Moseley Road Baths is one of only 5 Grade II* baths in England and the oldest still in use for swimming. It has been on our Heritage at Risk Register since 2005 and we have already funded an Options Appraisal outlining a number of potential future uses. The additional time will enable us to continue working with the Coalition and the City Council to find a sustainable future for this significant symbol of Birmingham’s civic pride.

Professor John Darlington, Executive Director, World Monuments Fund Britain said: ‘A panel of international experts supported our view that Moseley Road Baths is unexpected, distinctive and different.  A building which speaks of a social heritage that belongs to a broad group of people rather than of fine country houses and the privileged. In 2016 it was one of only two buildings from the UK to be placed on the World Monuments Watch list. We are delighted to be a part of something that will save the Baths for future generations.’

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Why is Moseley Road Baths special?

The baths are of great heritage significance and are an important part of our city’s identity.

Moseley Road Baths are the only Grade II* baths that predate 1914 and remain in use. One of the oldest of five Grade II* listed baths in the country, they contain some unique fixtures and fittings, including a complete set of 46 private washing rooms with baths (in use until 2004), and original oak ticket offices and attendants’ kiosks.  Also, possibly the only surviving steam-heated drying racks in a British swimming pool, and a three sided spectator gallery with unique balconettes in the Gala or First Class pool.  

 

So significant are the Baths that the Friends of Moseley Road Baths secured the interest of the World Monuments Fund, who added the building to their World Monuments Watch List in 2016 of 50 important buildings and monuments from across the globe.

 

Built to encourage Balsall Heath to join the Corporation of Birmingham in 1907, the baths and the adjacent library are full of glorious details and both interior and exterior are a real testament to the designers, manufacturers and workmanship of Birmingham and Britain at this time. It spoke of a huge civic pride of a city and its people.

 

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PRESS CONTACT

 

Claire Deeley 07484 500852 / claire.deeley@nationaltrust.org.uk

All eyes on 27th June…

Hope for Moseley Road Baths?

IMG_1286

 

Many thanks  to everyone who signed Moseley Road Baths Action Group’s petition to help save swiming at MRB – well over 2000 signatures now and still rising!

We downloaded the petition on 10th June in preparation for a meeting on 27th between Ian Ward and a coalition including National Trust, Historic England, World Monuments Fund, Friends of Moseley Road Baths and Moseley Road Baths Action Group.  Earlier that day a proposal will go to Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet for approval to keep the baths open until March 2018 to allow the coalition time to find a way to a way to secure the future of our much loved pool.

We’ll find out when we meet with Ian Ward whether or not this proposal has been successful but we’re remaining positive that we’ve made a strong case for keeping swimming at Moseley Road Baths and will let you know as soon as there’s any news.

In the meantime, even though we have downloaded the petition, we’re not closing it yet and we welcome more signatures and comments!

Sign the Petition

Read the BBC News item

Read the Birmingham Mail Article

 

Sign our petition

Can we get our petition up to 1,000 or more by the end of the month? We appreciate how many of you have signed petitions over the years, but we believe that a strong show of support NOW will help us make the case for keeping the Baths open beyond its scheduled closing date of July.

Sign the petition now

The council is discussing with the Friends and others in the community, plus heritage organisations, how the baths might be kept open. The current closing date is July, but it might be extended to allow a community grouping and/or non-profit operator to be ready to take it on, while work is done on seeking funding for necessary renovation.