It’s been a while since we were in touch with some of you, but we can tell you a lot has been going on in our efforts to save Moseley Road Baths. Here is an update from Karen Leach from the Moseley Road Baths Action Group.
There is very much a chance that we can be successful in keeping Moseley Road Baths open for swimming and restore the building, but we will need everyone’s help in doing so. After giving you an update of our recent activities, we will outline some of the ways in which you could help and ask you to respond.
In spring last year, MRBAG was awarded funds from Historic England to undertake an Options Analysis. We commissioned National Trust and Princes Regeneration Trust to produce this, and the finished version can be found here. This excellent report has pulled together all the information on the huge heritage and community value of the baths, its state of repair, likely renovation costs, examples of other successful pools from across the country and much other useful information. It outlined some indicative options from which we have been developing our preferred options.
Meanwhile, the National Trust, Historic England and the World Monuments Fund have all identified Moseley Road Baths as a priority, and have formed a ‘coalition’ to work with Birmingham City Council on potential solutions to the renovation and longer term future of the building. This coalition has now put forward a set of proposals to Birmingham City Council as to how swimming might be continued and the building rescued from its current neglected state. This includes what we need the Council to provide as their contribution to making this work.
In outline, these proposals mean:
- The Coalition partners, led by the National Trust, will be able to help us access heritage expertise and funding for design, feasibility work and eventual restoration of the building.
- We have formed Moseley Road Baths CIC (community interest company) to take on responsibility for keeping swimming going at some point after the current closure date of June this year. This may involve bringing in a short term non-profit operator initially, then going on to manage the baths ourselves. Either way this will involve some volunteer time. This model is working in many other pools across the country, saving them from closure. We have won further funding and support from the Bright Ideas Fund, and local social enterprise specialist Dave Lane is helping us with this task.
- We are asking the council’s support for a transitional period while we and they prepare for the handover.
- All coalition partners including ourselves will continue to seek funding and raise the profile of the baths. Check out the Friends of MRB’s website for further info.
Of course in an ideal world, we would want the City Council to continue running and staffing these baths, but it is clear that this cannot happen under current circumstances and this is why our only option for saving the baths is the one we have outlined here.
Our long-term vision for Moseley Road Baths is of a lively enterprise with swimming at the heart of the mix of uses for its exciting spaces, and possibly working with the Library to make best use of space. To be successful, Moseley Road Baths will need to draw on its importance nationally and internationally to become a ‘destination’ with wide appeal in Birmingham and beyond, while maintaining its community roots, and respecting and celebrating the heritage of the building.
We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support from both our local community and people further afield who either care about heritage or swam here as children or both.
So, in order for this to work, we will need local expertise and passion to help govern what happens; volunteer input to manage the pool; local organisations and individuals to commit to keeping on swimming here; and crowdfunding. Any of these ways of helping is fantastic!
In the meantime if you do Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, please check out our social media campaign for the rest of February at #keepswimmingmrb and @moseleyrdbaths. We’re showing what support there is for the baths. You can take part by posting a selfie or what you love about the baths, or just retweeting and reposting. And please do come to our next Open Day on 18th March.
As a final suggestion, if you do want Moseley Road Baths to be saved, it would be great if you can make sure your local councillors know this, so do be in touch with them by email or phone or in person.
We are really excited (if a little daunted!) about the future and look forward to hearing from you.
On behalf of the Moseley Road Baths Action Group
Members of the Action Group are:
Ashram Moseley Housing Association, Balsall Heath Forum, Balsall Heath History Society, Birmingham Conservation Trust, Development in Social Enterprise, Friends of Moseley Road Baths, Localise WM, National Trust, RnR Organisation, St Pauls Trust