Tag Archives: Schools

The case for investing in swimming

We’ve been so heartened by the response that we have received so far from people furious at the news that the Council wants to close Moseley Road Baths for swimming from 2015.  This is particularly frustrating, as they were so close to submitting what looking like being a successful bid, which would have secured the building for another 25 years and made it a viable Heritage and swimming facility.

Pupils banner

Councillors are making the case that they have no money, and have had the gall to cite the equal pay case as the reason for being unable to find the £3million to match fund the bid.  In reality, £3million, to be spent in two years time, over the course of two years, to secure a building for 25 years and to attract £5million to a ‘deprived neighbourhood’ sounds like good financial sense to me (especially when compared to £12million for Harborne Pool and millions spent on the new library).  The alternative is to do unplanned ’emergency repairs’ that can escalate dramatically and eat into other budgets.

Or, the Council could allow this building, situated in the heart of Balsall Heath, to fall into disrepair, and for the area to see its high street become increasingly run down.  A glance over at Stirchley Baths gives an idea of what we could expect.  There is so much hand-wringing over ‘regeneration’ and ‘civic pride’ – the answer is literally on our doorstep.

But surely this is ‘austerity Britain’, and we all have to tighten our belts?  Speaking with one regular swimmer yesterday who relies on swimming for her health, and who is currently battling to retain disability benefits, closing the only local pool to her would lead to a further deterioration of her health.  As cuts bite elsewhere swimming is a cheap, accessible way to improve physical and mental health, prevent isolation, and build the kind of cohesive, supportive community that politicians dream of.

Let’s also not forget that many school pupils in the area are failing to meet the standard for being able to swim a length by the time they finish primary school.  When both pools were open at Moseley Road Baths there was a full programme of school swimming.  Now kids just get a taster, maybe a term a year.  Nothing consistent, not enough to gain the confidence to learn this crucial life skill.  This isn’t about chasing the Olympic dream.  It’s about meeting the national requirements.

Reopen Moseley Road Baths!

Last Autumn when the Heritage Lottery Fund bid was being submitted, I was part of the consultation exercise conducted by Birmingham Conservation Trust.  They were quite overwhelmed by the responses they received.  School teachers were discussing how the building could be used for Science lessons, dancers wanted to use the Gala Pool for performances, students came and practiced their photography there.  I’ve lost count of the number of people who have been in touch wanting to use the building for filming.  And everyone is eager to see some kind of permanent history exhibition there that teaches kids and adults alike about this marvellous building’s history.

So this COULD be viable.  It COULD be something people would travel to visit.  It COULD be a real source of pride for Balsall Heath and Birmingham.  Unfortunately our local councillors just continue to bring shame to our area, with no vision, no commitment to the neighbourhood and no idea of the needs of local residents.  If today’s reaction to the news is anything to go by, they have a shock in store….

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!

“We Want To Swim” Demo

As the six-week school summer holidays got underway a group of frustrated parents and children descended on Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath to complain about the ongoing closure of their favourite pool.

Summer holiday 'non-swim'

The Baths shut for essential repairs at Christmas for what Birmingham City Council initially claimed would be just six weeks, but more than six months later there’s still no sign of the building reopening, with the Council acknowledging that it will take another nine weeks for additional maintenance work to be carried out, leaving locals without a public pool, a situation exacerbated by the long-term closure of nearby Sparkhill Baths.

Around twenty Moseley Road Baths regulars attended Monday’s demonstration, organised by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths group. Jenny Wale, who came along with her daughters Millie (aged 9) and Sadie (11) said: “My children have nowhere to swim locally and because of the closure we have to drive several miles to our nearest pool. They’re missing out on something they love.”

Summer holiday 'non-swim'

David Pratt from Moseley Shoals swimming club was another demonstrator: “We are currently using Small Heath Leisure Centre to swim but we’d love to have our local baths back operating again.” The club have also tried using Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre at Alcester Lanes End but found it unsuitable for their requirements, being more of a leisure pool.

Friends’ Secretary Rachel Gillies remarked: “The school holidays have just begun, the weather’s been getting warmer and local children are desperate to come and swim at their local pool. It’s crucial that the remaining building and maintenance work starts as soon as possible so that this valuable and well-loved community facility can re-open and be enjoyed by all.”

Although work to replace the lintel above a door in the swimming pool (the initial reason for the pool’s closure) has now been completed, Birmingham City Council’s Urban Design team are insisting on the replacement of temporary scaffolding in the basement, while an asbestos survey of this area must also be carried out. Negotiations between contractors and the Council over the costs and details of this work have been ongoing for several weeks. On Monday, Councillor Martin Mullaney, Chairman of Leisure, Sport and Culture, stated that it would be late September at the earliest before Moseley Road Baths re-opened.

For more information or additional comment, please contact Jen Austin, Friends of Moseley Road Baths: 0121 440 5794/07521 734 022

Friends of Moseley Road Baths

July 25th 2011

Join us for a ‘swim’

Dear MRB Supporter,

With Moseley Road Baths set to remain closed for the whole of the school holidays we’re inviting you (and if possible, your children) to join us outside the baths at noon this coming Monday, July 25th – the first day of the school holidays – to express disappointment and unhappiness at the continued closure of Moseley Road Baths. We’ll take some photos and are inviting the local press along so bring your swimming costume (not to wear, but to hold up as it makes a much better picture!) and together we’ll try to increase pressure on Birmingham City Council to get the baths reopened for the first time since December 2010.

If you can get along that would be great, if you could tell a friend, that would be fantastic too. We’ll need you for about 15 minutes. Thanks.

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths

Pupils banner

Local pupils have previously made their views known!

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.

IMG_4461

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.

Our first school project is complete

We’ve had a great time on our oral history film project this week – it’s amazing how much we’ve managed to cram into just 15 hours! We’ve now got two short films, edited down from almost an hour of interviews, which we showed to all of Year 6 today. The reaction we got was great, and both pupils and teachers asked lots of questions and were interested in running the project again. It really is the case that Moseley Road Baths inspires and excites people of all ages and backgrounds.

I’ll be spending some of next week producing more DVDs for all of the pupils and sifting through our footage and photos. Once that is done I’ll be putting the films up online, so keep checking back!

I would like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you to Mrs Reeves from Anderton Park School for all of the hard work she has put into making the project happen, thank you to the teachers who agreed to participate, the staff in ‘The House’ who have made me feel so welcome and also to the staff from Moseley Road Baths, Jean in particular, for opening the doors to us and giving us a tour. Big thanks also to our interviewees, Mrs Evans, Miss Franklin and Mrs Reeves. And of course it wouldn’t have taken place without the hard work of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, particularly the subgroup working on the Pool of Memories Project, or our funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund. Finally, thank you very much to the pupils who took part, it’s been good fun and I think you’ve created some wonderful work.

I want to leave you with a few short films we made with the Flip which is the pupils talking about the project in their own words.  The first is a rehearsal of the presentation that the pupils gave to the rest of the Year group. Enjoy and feel free to add your own thoughts on the project using the comments box below!

What we did this week from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

Ibrahim talks about the project from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

Umar’s thoughts on the project from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.