Category Archives: Campaign

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.

March Open Day – last chance to see?

Our Last Ever Open Day?

 

With Moseley Road Baths due to close in June 2017, the next open day on Saturday 18th March could well our last event at the baths for the foreseeable future.

Come along between 10am and 2pm for tours of parts of the building that are usually closed to the public and, more importantly, to find out how you can help us in our campaign to keep our pool open!

Can you spare a few hours to help out during our open day? If so let us know by emailing contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk.

How You Can Help Now!

The Moseley Road Baths Action Group is working hard to find a way to keep our pool open, liaising with Birmingham City Council as part of a coalition led by the National Trust, and including Historic England and World Monuments Fund.

In order to show that there is demand for swimming and that the pool can continue to operate outside city council control, they need your input.

Please take a few moments to fill in the survey below and help us to keep swimming at Moseley Road Baths.

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.

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.

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.

Martin Mullaney to chain himself to the building

We have received this press release from former Cabinet Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture, Martin Mullaney.  Frustrated with the Council’s failure to submit the HLF bid he is making a public protest about their failure to commit to the long term future of the building.

Why I will be chaining myself to Moseley Road baths this Thursday

This Thursday, 14th February,  between 10am and 12noon I will be chaining myself to Moseley Road baths at protest against Birmingham City Council’s recent decision to cancel the Heritage Lottery bid for phase 1 of the restoration of the baths AND its announcement that once the current boilers break down or the buildings have a structural fault they will be permanently closing the building to swimming. Readers of my blog will know that both the boilers and the roof of the building are on their last legs and probably won’t last longer than 2015.

I will be wearing an Edwardian swimming costume, since Moseley Road baths are the last completely intact and operating Edwardian swimming baths in Britain. Statutory listed Grade II* – less than 10% of listed buildings have such a high listing – these baths are not only important to Balsall Heath, but are of national importance.

I was Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture for Birmingham City Council from 2009 to 2012 and led on the Council’s Heritage Lottery bid for these baths. In March 2012, I persuaded my Cabinet colleagues to commit to allocating £3million of 2015/16 capital money from the Council’s budget, which would be used as match funding against a bid for £5million from the Heritage Lottery fund.

The total cost of this phase 1 of the restoration of Moseley Road baths would have been £8million (£3million from the Council; £5million from the Heritage Lottery Fund) and would have done the following:
Permanent repairs to the exterior fabric of the building with a life of 25 years – so basically a complete re-roofing to stop any water ingress
Complete re-wiring and new machinery (eg new boilers) for the pool. We would be particular keen to install a combined heat and power system in the boiler house. This would heat all the buildings along Moseley Road and help to regenerate this corridor.
Pool 2 maintained as a community swimming pool
Pool 1 boarded over and used for community use.

In December 2012, the new Labour administration announced that the Heritage Lottery bid was been withdrawn and there would no longer be any plans to restore the baths or even to keep them as swimming baths. Further, the Labour administration has repeatedly claimed the £3million allocated never existed. This is total rubbish. The Cabinet report allocating the £3million was counter-signed by the Chief Financial officer who is not allowed to sign financial reports if the financial details do not add up or the monies are non-existent. The money would have come from the 2015/16 capital budget which amounts to £1,000million per year and £3million within that budget would have been set aside for Moseley Road baths.

Please feel free to join me at this protest. You don’t need to lock yourself up. Just be there and show support.

Martin Mullaney
(0121) 689 4372

Sign our online petition!

Thank you to those of you who have been in touch asking how you can get involved.  Our contact list is growing, our Twitter followers (www.twitter.com/moseleyrdbaths) are increasing and more people are joining our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/friendsofmrb) daily.

There is now an online petition that supporters can sign at http://epetition.birmingham.public-i.tv/epetition_core/community/petition/2146.  This is important as it goes directly to Councillors and if we get enough signatures they will need to discuss it.

Yesterday members of the group braved the weather and lobbied the Hall Green Constituency meeting.  Jen writes:

‘We gave out leaflets and got names on petitions today. The councillors came out to talk to us but the message is the same – they will keep swimming at the baths “as long as possible” but it’s not in the long term plan. One thing that annoys me is the way each administration blames the last for the state of Moseley Rd Baths.
Let’s keep the pressure on and send a loud clear message that WE WANT TO SWIM AT MOSELEY ROAD’

So – clearly a lot of persuasion is needed!  We will be gathering on Wednesday 30th January at 7:30pm at Anderton Park School Children’s Centre for a campaign strategy meeting.  Please come if you want to be involved in the nitty gritty of the campaign!