Tag Archives: Oral History

Have you been involved in a MRB art project?

Moseley Road Baths has always been a real inspiration to people doing creative, exciting things. A couple of weeks ago editorialgirl took a tour of the building and took this wonderful selection of photos, which complement her previous collection from 2009’s Flickrmeet for local photographers which we featured on here at the time.

We’re wanting to hear from others who have been involved in arts events at the Baths:

Have you ever organised an art event at Moseley Road Baths? Have you ever taken part in one, or just attended? If so, then The Friends of Moseley Road Baths would love to hear from you. As part of our Pool of Memories History Project we’re researching all aspects of the building’s 105-year history. So if it was an art show, a video shoot, fashion show, play, exhibition, TV appearance, or anything else then we’d love to hear from you. Maybe you were at Immerse, Swimming Without Water, saw Stan’s Cafe’s show, or maybe you have a copy of the Gangsters episode which included the baths, or the Dalzeil and Pascoe show that featured Norman Wisdom! If you think you might be able to help, memories or memorabilia (posters, tickets etc), then do get in touch at memories@friendsofmrb.co.uk.

Astounding response to Heritage Consultation!

We have seen an overwhelmingly positive response to the consultation work that Birmingham Conservation Trust have been doing as part of the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for restoration and heritage projects at Moseley Road Baths.  There is a great write up on their blog.

Baths Questionnaire

Lots of you have been completing questionnaires on your ideas for the building (these can be found at the Baths and many local community venues), there was lots of interest at the Eid Mela a few weeks back, 133 people took a ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour last weekend, every single department at Joseph Chamberlain College has expressed an interest in using the Baths with students, plus this week we are meeting with local schools to discuss their vision for activities at the Baths. Phew!

I was lucky enough to meet with Suzanne Carter, part of the team from Birmingham Conservation Trust conducting the consultation, and representatives from local arts organisations. We took a tour around the building, delving into nooks and crannies. It’s so inspiring and affirming to see people getting visibly excited by the possibilities in the space.

We spoke about how the individual cubicles for the slipper baths could be used creatively, how the archive from the Pool of Memories could be used as inspiration, and we got very excited talking about how everything from the smallest detail of the tiles and marble to the huge expanse of the Gala Pool could be employed for photography, film, projection, dance and drama.

It’s clear to me that we have a really wonderful opportunity to combine the heritage and beauty of this inspiring building with the creativity and talents of local people.  Let’s push to make sure that we can make these things happen!

Park Hill pupils learn about swimming for kids

Pupils at Park Hill School have been working hard over the past few weeks with Rachel Gillies – Community Film Maker to create two short oral history films about Moseley Road Baths. The project has involved the group researching the history of the building, learning how to use film equipment and how to conduct oral history interviews. The group then divided into two film crews to film and interview two members of the public who had very fond memories of the Baths, particularly swimming there with their children.

The project started off with a fun look at the building using the Virtual Tour website, which allowed the group to look at parts of the building usually closed off to the public. Through the site we were able to watch films of the laundry room, wander onto the roof and explore the Slipper Baths! The pupils had loads of questions not just about the building, but about the wider social history of Balsall Heath, making lots of connections between what was happening locally and what they know about 20th Century British History.

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

After learning how to use film and audio equipment, the two film crews did an excellent job of interviewing Marion and Fran, who both recall swimming regularly at the building. Fran told us about swimming regularly when she was pregnant and how much she enjoys swimming with her children now they are older. Marion praised the pool’s excellent swimming lessons – both school lessons and the ‘Strokes’ programme. She told the group how important it was to learn to swim and how staff at the Baths have helped her learn to swim as an adult.

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

The films were screened at our recent Pool of Memories Art Exhibition. However, on Tuesday pupils did a proper Premiere of the films in front of almost 120 classmates from Year 4 and Year 5. The group presented the films and explained what they had learnt over the course of the project, before going on to answer questions from the floor. They will now be given their own copies of the DVD and certificates to reward them for their hard work! The films will be added to our archive and will be appearing on the Pool of Memories website shortly! Thanks to all pupils and to staff at Park Hill School for being so accommodating!

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

Moseley Road Baths – at the ‘art’ of Balsall Heath

Where to start with summarising last Saturday’s fantastic art exhibition and celebration of Moseley Road Baths’ 104th Birthday?  We were overwhelmed by the response from artists and those who attended on the day; what a timely reminder with the Baths currently closed that it still remains as popular and loved as ever!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

First off I must say a huge thank you to the artists who produced such fantastic work!  Please do look them up and support them!  They are: Anne Irby Crews, Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Harry Starling, Heather Ramsden, Helen Flanagan, Maria Reaney, Michelle Bint, Paul Hull, Paul Jessett, Robert Geoghegan, Rose Jennings and Vivienne Harrison.

Thanks also to Corinne Fowler who read an excerpt from her novel which vividly describes a full-immersion Baptism at Moseley Road Baths – something that the Riverside Church used to do.  She did an excellent job of transporting the audience to the poolside in the absence of our annual tours!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

The day was also an opportunity to celebrate our Pool of Memories project so far.  The bits of our archive out on display really got people talking and we got so many wonderful stories and great feedback!  A number of people left their details for us to interview them, and this wonderful certificate was shown to us which dates back to 1928!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

I was lucky enough to do two wonderful oral history interviews with visitors.  Betty spoke about her first attempts at swimming in the early 1930s and going for weekly baths, right through to swimming as a teenager, courting with Fred (now her husband!) and taking their daughter there when she was a toddler.  Ruth was visiting from Yorkshire and spoke fondly of her 13 years of working as a lifeguard and how it was so much more than lifesaving but about building important relationships with the whole community.

We also screened films from our Pool of Memories School project, including Premiering two films produced by pupils at Park Hill School over the past couple of weeks.  A few of the pupils were in attendance and proudly showed their work off to family!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

Finally, a massive thank you to all those who volunteered their time on the day and to the staff at the School of Art for making us so welcome.  Over 110 people were in attendance which I think is a huge achievement for a voluntary group!  Please do let us know what you thought of the event so we can build on this success for next year’s event!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

Plans are now well underway for this year’s annual event as part of our ‘Pool of Memories’ project.  On Saturday 29th October, noon-4pm, Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be taking over the Moseley School of Art on Moseley Road (opp. the Baths) for the day to celebrate the Baths’ history and beauty through the medium of art!M&M 2011Today we have selected 12 local artists’ work to exhibit, encompassing a wide range of mediums, including photography, illustration, sculpture and portraiture.  All of the work has been inspired by the building itself, swimming, or water.  The ‘Pool of Memories’ exhibition will not only be the only opportunity to see all of these works together, it will also be a rare chance to see inside the former School of Art, itself Grade II* listed.

In addition we will be screening short films produced by local pupils as part of our Pool of Memories School project.  Pupils from Park Hill School, Anderton Park School, Clifton Junior School and Percy Shurmer School have filmed and conducted oral history interviews with people who remember swimming, working or washing at Moseley Road Baths.  We will be premiering the most recent films from pupils at Park Hill School on the day – filming only took place today!

Park Hill Pool of Memories

We shall also be welcoming Corinne Fowler to the event who will be reading an excerpt from her novel which features an account of a full immersion baptism in the swimming pool!

As usual there will be a selection of stories from our ever growing oral history archive on display as well as an opportunity to contribute to the archive with your own memories.  If you would like to share your stories on audio recorder or on film then please come along!

Don’t forget that our exhibition is wonderfully complemented by the Balsall Heath History Fair and Exhibition taking place next door at the Make It Zone!

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.

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!

Press Release – Pool of Memories School Project

Pupils in Balsall Heath have been learning about the history of Moseley Road Baths and creating short films based on their interviews with people who have memories of the building.  As part of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths’ ‘Pool of Memories’ project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, they have been working with local film-maker Rachel Gillies to create a series of short films.

The pupils have taken a tour of the building, done research about its history and learnt how to conduct filmed interviews, before editing their footage into short films to add to the group’s growing archive.

Pupils from Park Hill Primary School in Moseley screened a Premiere of their films in a special assembly on 16th May at 9:00am.  They include an interview with someone who almost gave birth in the pool, and another interview with a local stonemason who shared his memories of work to the windows back in 2004.

Park Hill Assembly

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths secured Heritage Lottery Fund money to run the extensive, 3-year oral history project, based on the history of the building.  Four out of nine school projects have been completed, with more than 35 young participants from four schools so far creating more than ten short films.  The work of the young historians has been added to a dedicated website, www.poolofmemories.co.uk as well as being used in local screenings and in educational projects.

The project is especially welcome at the moment due to the temporary closure of Moseley Road Baths whilst urgent repair work takes place.  It is hoped that the pool will reopen for swimming by mid-June.

“The children have really enjoyed learning about the importance of the baths within the local community. In addition, being able to interview local residents and make a film about it has been an invaluable experience!” said class teacher Clare Belshaw.

“I really enjoyed the project as I learned so much, such as how to set up a tripod.  I enjoyed visiting Moseley Road Baths and learning about its rich history as well as being able to go into the areas that are closed off from the public.  We also interviewed people and edited parts of the interview” said Poppy Emson, one of the pupils who took part.

Jenny Austin, the Pool of Memories Co-ordinator added: ‘This has been a fantastic way of getting young people excited about their local heritage, they really have taken the role of sharing and celebrating our local history seriously.’

Project worker Rachel Gillies added, ‘It has been wonderful to see how enthusiastic the pupils have been.  Pupils have had fun learning about this beautiful local building at the same time as gaining research, interviewing and film-making skills’

The films can be viewed at: http://www.poolofmemories.co.uk/2000-onwards/ and http://www.poolofmemories.co.uk/1980-1990/

Pool of Memories Progress

35 pupils in four schools have now been part of creating a total of eight films about the history of Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath, all of which will eventually be added to our online archive of the building at www.poolofmemories.co.uk.

PoMP - Park Hill School

The Heritage Lottery Fund supported project, run by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths has involved pupils in researching the history of the building, taking a tour around the Baths, learning how to make films and conduct interviews, and then finally editing their interviews together into short films to be added to our archive. Ever since I started making films in the community, back when I worked as a Receptionist at Moseley Road Baths it’s been my aim to get this lovely building celebrated more within the surrounding area. We certainly seem to be achieving that!

PoMP - Park Hill SchoolPupils have really loved the tours and have asked some really great (and challenging!) questions about the building and how it was built and is maintained. On several occasions I’ve seen pupils dashing up to parents and teachers to tell them all about the things that they’ve learnt. Apologies if you’re one of those people who has been bombarded with trivia! However, we know that young people are exactly the kind of ambassadors we need to ensure future generations enjoy the building.

PoMP - Percy Shurmer SchoolAll of the children have picked up on the film-making really quickly. We’ve had some real giggles mucking around with the microphones and playing around in front of the camera! We soon managed to form film crews with a Director, Sound Recordist, Camera Operator and Interviewer. Many of our interviewees have commented on the professionalism of the group.


All of the questions for the interviewees have been written by the pupils, who have shown a great level of maturity in their questions. These budding young historians have really grasped the concept of oral history recording and its importance for helping people to understand the past and its relevance to us today.

The quality of the interviews has been excellent, with some really interesting stories coming out as a result of the groups asking such good questions. We’ve learnt about the diving boards and drinks for a penny in the 1950s, competitive swimming in the 1960s, school trips to the Baths in the 1970s, someone almost having a baby in the pool in the 1980s and then in stories from more recent years we’ve learnt about the technical side of rebuilding the windows, what it’s like to work there, as well as hearing about the campaign work to keep the building open.

PoMP Clifton Junior

With five more school projects budgeted for over the course of the three year project I am now looking for other local schools who may wish to participate. The project is aimed at Year 6 pupils, but can be tailored for other year groups. The finished films are added to our archive, and many will appear on our online archive, www.poolofmemories.co.uk. They will then be used as part of our exhibition work and will form the basis of an extensive drama project. If you would like your school to be involved then you can contact us at memories@friendsofmrb.co.uk.

Here is an example of one of the films, created by Year 3 pupils at Clifton Junior School.

Margaret’s Exhibition is now open!

Thanks so much to everyone who came to the launch of Margaret Braithwaite’s exhibition of oil paintings of Moseley Road Baths. It was clear from the event how passionate people are about the building and what fond memories they have of swimming there.  The exhibition is on at the beautiful Birmingham and Midland Institute on Margaret Street for the next couple of weeks.

Margaret Exhibition
Jen and I went onto Carl Chinn’s show on Radio WM yesterday to discuss the exhibition and some of the work we’re currently doing through the Pool of Memories project. You can listen again on the BBC iPlayer until the 13th February at http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/p00dtv0m/, we are on from 47:20 for about 10 minutes.