Category Archives: Project plugs

The History of Moseley Road comes to life!

History Fair Exhibition

From 15th October until 5th November Moseley Road’s history will be brought to life as never before!  The Balsall Health Local History Society are exhibiting a selection of over 200 photos from the area, many of which have never been seen before.  In addition there will be dozens of artefacts, a mini school room and a slideshow and film showing the neighbourhood in years past.

The exhibition takes place at the ‘Make it Zone‘, formerly Butcher’s Print Works, located next door to the School of Art, opposite the Baths and Library.  The venue will be open Saturdays 11.00 – 16.00, Sunday 16th, 23rd, 11.00 – 16.00 Monday – Wednesday 12.00 – 16.00.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, head down to the Moseley Road (outside the Make It Zone) on Sunday 16th October at 11am and then again at 2:30pm as astonishing scenes will take place in Balsall Heath… a history trail along the Moseley Road will be dramatically interrupted by various scenes from the past including the escaped lion from the Sherbourne Road Zoo, the 1791 Church and King Riots, the 19th. Century Fire Brigade and its wandering horse… and much more!

The exhibition and Drama Trail are being supported by St Paul’s Community Development Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund, MACE West Midlands, and the BBC Reel History campaign.  This compliments the Society’s excellent Digital Balsall Heath online archive project which we reported on back in August.

Don’t forget that on the 29th October you can indulge in a whole afternoon of history and locally produced artwork by also visiting our own Pool of Memories Exhibition between 12noon and 4pm next door in the School of Art.  We are accepting your artwork until the 17th October.

Talk Commemorates Re-opening of Historic Woodcock Street Swimming Baths

To mark the re-opening of Woodcock Sports Centre following a £5m refurbishment and renovation, the University of Aston is presenting an illustrated talk on Monday October 17th (6:30-7:30pm) about the centre’s 151-year history.

Woodcock Street

Owned and managed by the University since 1980, when it was purchased from Birmingham City Council for £1, the Grade II listed sports centre in Gosta Green is the home of Birmingham’s oldest surviving swimming pool, dating from 1902.

But Woodcock’s history can be traced back almost to the dawn of municipal swimming when, in the 1850s, Birmingham Town Council responded to a public petition calling for the construction of bathing and washing facilities in the town’s northern districts by erecting only the Birmingham’s second set of baths (the first having opened at Kent Street in 1851).

The talk – which is open to the general public and free of charge – will also cover the major rebuilds of 1902 and 1926, when the Gala Pool (now a sports hall) was erected, as well as looking at the 2011 upgrade. Also covered will be Woodcock Street Baths’ rôle as the city’s main municipal laundry, as well as it’s use for winter entertainments such as snooker and boxing tournaments and, perhaps most importantly, for swimming galas, both local, national and international.

The refurbishment and renovation has seen a number of original features restored as well as the creation of a new 120-station gym, new martial arts, fitness and dance studios and the refurbishment of both the swimming pool and sports hall.

Woodcock Street

The talk takes place in Room G11 of the main building, Aston Street (entrance via the main reception doors).

Digital Balsall Heath

We’re really excited to hear about this collaboration between the smashing folks over at Balsall Heath Local History Society (who have been really helpful with our research and have supported countless events that we’ve hosted) and MACE‘s (Media Archive for Central England) ‘Full Circle’ Project.  There’s a full report of the launch event on MACE’s blog.

The collaboration has seen staff from MACE assist local historians in locating archive film footage and then convert it into a format which can then be added to the MACE archive and used by local groups. In this case, material will appear on the new Digital Balsall Heath site, which aims to be an online, interactive resource for people wanting to look at the history and heritage of the area.

Digital Balsall Heath

Best of luck to the group, we shall most certainly be adding material as our own Pool of Memories Project develops!

Art Exhibition – Homage to Moseley Road Baths

Local artist Margaret Braithwaite has a long association with Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath.

Her youngest son learnt to swim there in the 1980s and her admiration for this beautiful pool, a Grade 2* listed building, prompted her to create a set of paintings which will be on display at the Birmingham and Midland Institute during the month of February.

Margaret says: “I wanted to show the wonderful light coming through the big windows, and to capture the life that goes on there. The Pool is in dire need of repair. It is a crucial part of Balsall Heath providing swimming tuition for many schools, and I hope it will be brought back to its former glory. My contribution towards its future is this set of paintings.”

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths are supporting the exhibition, as part of “Pool of Memories”, a Heritage Lottery funded project working with local schools and pool users past and present to record the history of this much-loved building.

Moseley Road Baths is currently closed for urgent structural repairs.

Exhibition Launch:

Tuesday February 1st 2011 at 7pm

Birmingham and Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham

The paintings will then be on view during the usual Institute opening hours (Monday to Friday 9 – 5)

Margaret's paintings

Do you have memories to share of swimming at the Pool, particularly during the 1980’s? You can leave details on memory forms available at the Institute, or contact:

Jenny Austin, Pool of Memories Project Co-ordinator, 07521734022. email memories@friendsofmrb.co.uk or go to the website www.poolofmemories.co.uk

A talented bunch

Because we like all things Birmingham and because we have such a talented group of people involved in our campaign and Pool of Memories project, I wanted to take a second to plug two smashing artists.

Vivienne Harrison has been a member of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths from the word go.  When she’s not keeping the Pool of Memories project on track by keeping on top of finances, recording volunteer hours and making sure that we’re on target to get everything done, she’s often found organising art exhibitions and working on her own visual arts practice.  She is currently organising the ‘Women Photographers!’ visual arts exhibition as part of  ‘Shout!’ – Birmingham’s Festival of Queer Culture.  There is a private view on the 16th November, and then the exhibition will run from the 17th-20th November at Jubilee Trades Centre, Pershore Street, Birmingham, B5 6ND.

I was really pleased this morning to see Robert Geoghegan featured as an artist on the We Are Birmingham site.  Robert is a regular swimmer at Moseley Road Baths and has volunteered to record oral histories for our Pool of Memories Project.  I love his cheeky take on familiar views of Birmingham.  Anyone who has ever caught the 50 bus will have a giggle at his take on the bus to Druids Heath!  A selection of his work will be on sale at the We Are Birmingham shop in Dale End once it opens on Saturday 13th November.

No water, but going swimmingly

We’re really pleased to share the news that the Swimming Without Water exhibition will be going ahead, starting next week.

The collective of artists will be using the currently unused Gala Pool at Moseley Road Baths to display their artwork(Apologies, we’ve just found out that it’s actually going to be in the area directly outside the Gala Pool!) Their aim is to bring together their contemporary artwork with the space and the audience to create a unique experience.

‘The artists, Debby Akam, Flora Gare and Tim Skinner, are working to bind their works with this glorious historic building, to re-enliven it; to repopulate it through an engagement with the building and the audience (swimmers and non-swimmers from Moseley Road and beyond) through the medium of art.’

The exhibition begins on 18th February and will run until 15th March.  All are welcome – a great chance to experience some interesting new art as well as step through the doors of Moseley Road Bath’s much-loved Gala Pool after years of closure.

Let us know your thoughts!

Played in Birmingham lecture

We’re very lucky as a group to be able to draw on the expertise of one of our group members, Steve Beauchampé.  He and Simon Inglis, who many of you will remember from his excellent presentation at our ‘Memories and Memorabilia Day‘ have written extensively about our local sporting heritage.  Moseley Road Baths features in two of the wonderfully detailed and illustrated publications from the ‘Played in Britain’ series.  ‘Played in Birmingham‘ explores Birmingham’s sporting heritage, whilst ‘Great Lengths‘ focuses on the development of swimming baths in Britain.

We are very excited to announce that they have both been invited to deliver a lecture at the prestigious Barber Institute this March.  Full details are below – please contact the Barber Institute directly for all enquiries.

Birmingham is a city founded upon hard work, enterprise and civic pride, characteristics that have also helped to shape its sporting map. This richly illustrated lecture focuses on Birmingham’s historic sporting landscapes – from stadiums to swimming baths, parks to pavilions, golf clubs to billiard halls – and reveals little known aspects of a heritage that has touched the lives of millions of Brummies, whether inclined towards sport or not.

Simon Inglis is an architectural historian and editor of the English Heritage series Played in Britain. He is the co-author with Steve Beauchampé of Played in Birmingham, the fifth book in the series, and has also written a history of Villa Park. Steve Beauchampé is an expert on Birmingham’s sporting architecture and heritage and is currently writing a history of the Grade II* listed Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath.

All lectures are held at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and begin at 7.30pm. Lectures are preceded at 6pm by a finger buffet, including a choice of wine, soft drink or coffee, and a private view of the Barber Institute galleries. Admission is by ticket only.

Lecture and buffet: £15 per ticket or £55 for the series. Lecture only: £7.50 or £27.50 for the series.

To book, please contact the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TS. 0121 414 7333 www.barber.org.uk
Payment by credit or debit card; cheques are payable to the University of Birmingham.

The Works Winter Salon

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths Committee members are a talented bunch – when we’re not busy planning events, running stalls and talking to the press our members always seem to be doing interesting and creative things.

One such person is Viv Harrison, who has exhibited her art work across the city at events including ArtPride, and now at ‘The Works Winter Salon’ which showcases fine art from the holders of The Works Artist Studios.  Have a look at Viv’s website to see a selection of her drawing, illustration, prints and photography.  The exhibition runs at The Works from 8th December until 13th December, and many of the artworks will be available to purchase.

Victoria Baths

Every so often a newsletter pops through my door from the lovely people at Manchester’s gorgeous Victoria Baths.  The building, winner of the BBC’s 2003 ‘Restoration’ programme is a real jewel in the crown of British municipal architecture, and it’s always fantastic and inspiring to receive updates on their work.

In the last few years the Baths have been transformed from a derelict building to a busy heritage visitor attraction.  Last year members of Friends of Moseley Road Baths were lucky enough to spend the day touring the building and witness the restoration ourselves.  The visit was made particularly exciting as the facade of the whole building had recently been completely restored to its former glory, complete with lovely wrought iron fencing, cleaned up terracotta and beautifully restored stained glass windows.  The care and attention given to each little detail is staggering.  It’s well worth having a look at their website to find out how such an immense amount of work has been successfully achieved.

Even if you can’t make the journey up to Manchester yourselves for one of the many open days or arts events that are now taking place there, the chances are that you will have already seen the building without being aware of it.  Amongst other hit TV shows, various parts of the building were used to film the 70s spoof cop show ‘Life on Mars’ and more recently it has formed the backdrop to ‘Casualty 1909’.

Manchester’s Victoria Baths really shows how relevant and exciting our community buildings can be.  Great efforts have been made to get the community through the doors, to collect oral histories and to maintain the integrity of the building.  However, that’s not to say that it’s been an easy ride – all of the people who have worked so hard to get to this stage are to be commended.  Well done, and all the best for the next stages of restoration!

November public events

On Saturday, November 21st, the Friends of Moseley Road Baths group will be taking part in the annual Birmingham History Day event at the University of Birmingham during which we will be discussing our Pool of Memories project.

Full details of what is a full day’s programme are included below. Admission costs £14 (including lunch), £10 (without lunch).

The following Saturday (November 28th) the Baths feature again in a Birmingham University Day School entitled Buildings at risk in Birmingham and the West Midlands. The event will include a one-hour talk on the history and importance of Moseley Road Baths, it’s current condition and the prospects for its restoration. The speaker will be Steve Beauchampé who is both a member of the Friends group, and one of the team involved in the production of Great Lengths – the historic indoor swimming pools of Britain (Malavan Media, 2009), part of English Heritage’s Played in Britain series of books.

Other buildings to be featured at the Day School include Weoley Castle, Matthew Boulton’s Soho Foundry works and Berthold Lubetkin’s Modernist buildings at Dudley Zoo. The event (which we appreciate is not cheap) costs £34 (lunch and refreshments included).

If you are interested in attending either of these events please contact Sandra Ilott at the university on 0121 415 8102 or e-mail s.e.ilott@bham.co.uk

Birmingham History Day 2009

Saturday 21st November – 10am – 4:50pm

Large Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, Edgbaston Campus, University of Birmingham

10.00am Welcome and Introduction, Malcolm Dick

10.10am Sally Baggott, Matthew Boulton 2009, Past, Present and Future

10.40am Shena Mason, 2009: A Legacy in Print. Matthew Boulton:Selling what all the World Desires’ and A Lost Landscape: Matthew Boulton’s Gardens at Soho

11.10am Refreshments

11.35am Ted Rudge, Winson Green to Brookfields through Time and In and Around Ladywood through Time

11.55am Tony Rees, ‘An Obscure Philanthropist’: Frank Mathews 1871-1948 and the welfare of invalid children

12.25pm Norman Bartlam and the News Team, The History Show DVD

1.00pm Lunch

1.50pm Doreen Hopwood, Sources, databases and websites for Family History at Birmingham Central Library

2.10pm Anna Keast, Winterbourne Memories

2.30pm David Callaghan, ‘History Detectives’, Community driven project to uncover the hidden histories of ethnic minorities who migrated to the West Midlands prior to WWII.

2.50pm Steve Beauchampé and Jenny Austin, Moseley Road Baths, Pool of Memories project

3.20pm Refreshments

3.40pm Sian Roberts, New History Projects in Birmingham Central Library

4.10pm Henrietta Lockhart, Birmingham – A City in the Making. Planning the New History Galleries in Birmingham Museum

4.40pm Final Questions

4.50pm Finish