A Decade of Decay: Press Release

Event to mark ‘Decade of Decay’ for historic Birmingham swimming baths

Saturday 31st August – (possible photocall Friday 30th August)

 The Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be marking the tenth anniversary of the closure of the historic Gala Pool this Saturday, August 31st with a display of proposals to restore the pool hall to it’s former glory as part of their campaign to persuade Birmingham City Council to re-activate a stalled £8m bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The proposals came out of a wide scale public consultation conducted last year by Birmingham Conservation Trust on behalf of the Council.

Swimmers and supporters are invited to join The Friends of Moseley Road Baths at the Gala Pool to add their vision for the future of the building to a display.  There will also be photo opportunities in the Gala Pool.  A photocall can be arranged with the group for Friday 30th August on request.

Quote: “In the Foreword to our recent book, ‘Pool of Memories: A History of Moseley Road Baths’, writer and historic pools expert Simon Inglis described Moseley Road Baths as a building of international importance. The Gala Pool is the jewel in its crown, widely acknowledged to be the finest swimming pool hall in Britain, and with all of its principal features intact. That it has been left to deteriorate for a decade is tantamount to civic vandalism.

“We are calling upon Birmingham City Council to both look after their own building and the people of Balsall Heath by restoring this once magnificent facility. We appreciate the financial restraints upon the city but the HLF bid, which is supported by English Heritage, involves expenditure of £3m over a three year period, a negligible amount to a local authority with a £3.5 billion annual budget.”

The Council confirmed in a written response to a recent petition that Moseley Road Baths will play no part in the city’s swimming strategy and will remain open for as long as is feasible until Sparkhill Baths reopens, giving Moseley Road Baths until March 2015 at the very latest.

Rachel Gillies, Secretary of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths stated that ‘Saturday’s event will be an opportunity to highlight how badly local councillors have let down our area.  Their recent response to our petition to submit the HLF bid confirmed yet again their unwillingness to address the concerns of residents and pupils who want to swim there and who are unable to make the journey to Sparkhill.  In a week when we celebrate the opening of the Library of Birmingham, the lack of investment in Moseley Road Baths stands in stark contrast.’

Before the Gala Pool closed in August 2003 there were four pools in operation across the Hall Green District.  With the closure of Sparkhill Baths and the Gala Pool that number has been reduced to just one to meet the needs of the whole area.  The Council have not answered questions as to how the demand will be matched in future.

Local community leaders and Head Teachers are now putting their names to an open letter calling for the building to be retained as a swimming facility to meet the demand for swimming in the area.  More details will be released within the next few months.

The event at Moseley Road Baths comes just days before the formation of a nationwide Historic Pools Campaign Group involving organisations such as the Victoria Baths Trust in Manchester and Glasgow’s Govanhill Baths Trust. The meeting, at which the Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be present, takes place in Manchester on Wednesday, September 4th.

Moseley Road Baths was opened in October 1907 and is listed Grade II*. The Gala (or First Class) Pool was closed for swimming owing to the need for structural repairs on August 31st 2003 although Pool 2 (the former Second Class Pool) remains operational.

For more information about Saturday’s event, contact Rachel Gillies, Secretary, Friends of Moseley Road Baths: 07967 093 256; Jenny Austin, Chair: 0777 609 5885

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths

August 26th 2013

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