Kat Pearson writes about her experiences in the campaign to save Moseley Road Baths.
When I do any event or post on social media for Moseley Road Baths (MRB), people will always talk to me about the pool being where their love of swimming began, or how their children and grandchildren are currently learning to swim there. This is part of what makes it such a special place.
Although I love swimming at Moseley Road Baths, my experience of learning there has been a very different one. I’m a part-time student studying Conservation of the Historic Environment at Birmingham City University and I’ve been involved with the Baths for over two years. My involvement started with a project writing a Conservation Plan for an at-risk location. I chose Moseley Road Baths because it’s a beautiful Grade II* listed building which is significant to the city, and as someone who’s lived in Birmingham for over 10 years I’ve always loved swimming there. For me it was also really important that I worked on a building that was under threat but had community support and an active Friends group working to save it, so that my studies could hopefully feed in to that.
After I finished my project I was asked to join the Moseley Road Baths Action Group. We are working as part of a coalition with the National Trust, World Monuments Fund, Historic England, and the Friends of Moseley Road Baths alongside Birmingham City Council to hopefully create a sustainable future as a swimming pool for Moseley Road Baths. I am now a director of the Community Interest Company (MRB CIC) that we’ve set up to enable us to take over swimming provision from the council next year, and am helping to lead on things such as social media engagement and fundraising especially for our Crowdfunder.
Being able to be involved in such a high-profile campaign working with national and international heritage bodies at this stage in my career has been invaluable to me, and I have learned so much from working with so many skilled and enthusiastic people. I also didn’t envisage when I started thinking about future options for the building as a university project, that within two years I would be a director of an organisation which is hoping to run a community swimming pool!
As our campaign to keep swimming at Moseley Road Baths continues, engagement with universities and colleges is going to be vital to its success. We are currently working with students from the ‘Ironbridge Institute for Cultural Heritage’ and the ‘Department of Film & Creative Writing’ at the University of Birmingham and they are bringing new skills and ideas to our group as well as allowing us to reach a different audience. We’ll also be looking to train and employ volunteer staff including lifeguards, and I hope that some of these will be students who can benefit from gaining experience in this amazing building as much as I have.
If you’re a student (or if you’re not!) and you want to get involved please follow us on social media or get in contact via firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can help.