National Lottery players make a splash at Moseley Road Baths

In the latest piece of good news for Moseley Road Baths, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded development funding of £477,050 for a major restoration and development project at the Baths.

Developed by a ‘coalition of the willing’ led by the National Trust, the project promises to complete the transformation of Moseley Road Baths, creating the best local pool in the world, with a positive ripple effect across the community.

This first stage of National Lottery investment will allow the partnership to fully develop their ambitious £32m Diving In project, which by 2028 will return swimming to the Gala Pool for the first time in 25 years and adapt other spaces, including the old laundry and slipper baths, to host fitness and wellbeing classes, a gym, cultural and arts events.

It will also include the development of cultural programmes with Balsall Heath library, focusing on families and older people, to share cross-generational experiences of Balsall Heath and Moseley Road Baths, as well as learning for primary schools.

The funding will support the development of a Volunteering, Skills and Participation model with diverse opportunities to support activities and operations across the two buildings.

Located in the super diverse Balsall Heath area of the city, the Edwardian Baths – owned by Birmingham City Council – has an extraordinary story. Internationally important and loved by generations of Brummies, Moseley Road Baths is one of the oldest of only six Grade II* Listed baths in the country still open for public swimming and contains many original features such as 46 private washing cubicles (slipper baths), and the only surviving steam-heated drying racks in a British swimming pool.

Pooling expertise and determination, this unique ‘coalition of the willing’, led by the National Trust, has already made a big splash since coming together in 2017. Only a few years ago the building was due to be permanently closed because of rising costs and a seemingly impossible restoration challenge. Moseley Road Baths features on Historic England’s national Heritage at Risk Register and was include on the World Monuments Fund’s 2016 Watch List: many had written the Baths off as an unsolvable problem because of the scale and complexity of works needed to restore the building. Following an impassioned community-wide campaign led by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, a coalition of local, national and international organisations came together to support local people and the City Council to change the fortunes of this very special place.

Against the odds, the community-operated Moseley Road Baths Charitable Incorporated Organisation (which took over running of the pool in 2018 from Birmingham City Council) has established a successful swimming and activity programme designed for residents. The CIO employs local people and is supported by around 60 volunteers, offering popular activities such as ‘chat and splash’ sessions, disabled swims, and all-women lifeguard training. 

In 2020, the City Council and Historic England kickstarted restoration work, unveiling the newly restored Gala Pool roof. It is hoped that this magnificent space in the heart of the building will be restored for swimming as part of the Diving In project. Fast forward to 2022, and a new phase of works has begun, funded by the Levelling Up Fund, Birmingham City Council, Historic England and World Monuments Fund. This work will address some of the most urgent capital repairs to the building, reinstate historical features at the baths and improve accessibility. 

The National Lottery investment will help achieve the full restoration and adaptation of MRB, bringing the whole building back into economic use as part of the long-term plan for the Baths to become a heritage-led wellbeing and cultural destination with swimming at its heart; it will be run with and for local people, and open to the world. The National Trust has worked with local people and organisations, and coalition partners to produce the proposals that caught the attention of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Lucy Reid, Assistant Director at the National Trust (Midlands and East of England) said: “We are proud to be working as a ‘coalition of the willing’ with so many people and organisations who care so deeply about the Baths, and about creating a new, sustainable future for it.  We know that swimming is good for you. But we also believe that swimming in beauty – and in what will once again be a stunningly beautiful setting – is even better for you. It’s a constant source of amazement and joy to us just how many people have connections to the Baths – we call it ‘the seven degrees of Moseley Road Baths’. It’s a place that never fails to captivate those who visit for the first time. So we are thrilled that the National Lottery Heritage Fund shares this our belief and excitement in the future of this building and this community. It’s a bold statement of intent about Birmingham’s heritage and why it matters: these Baths were built as a demonstration of civic pride, and that’s what they will be once again for the City.

Cllr Mariam Khan, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Birmingham City Council, said: “I’m so proud of the work done by so many organisations working together to breathe new life into this amazing building, though of course this project has always been about far more than this; it is a real community asset, run by and for local people but open to everyone. We are hugely grateful to the National Trust for their leadership of the coalition, and the skills, experience and resources that they and all of the coalition partners have brought, ensuring that one of our city’s most important heritage assets has a really bright future.” 

Viv Harrison, General Manager for Moseley Road Baths, said “Moseley Road Baths has been at the heart of the Balsall Heath community for 115 years. It’s wonderful that we’ve been able to come together with other organisations who share a love of this beautiful Grade II* listed building, to champion our local heritage and secure it for future generations. This grant has come out of decades of campaigning by the local community to keep the pool open for swimming, and we couldn’t be more excited about the future!”

Historic England’s Regional Director Midlands, Louise Brennan, said: “Moseley Road Baths has been a key Heritage at Risk project for us for some time now and we’re so keen to see this special building’s future secured. We have provided many years of technical advice and expertise, project support and several grants to ensure this. We’re delighted this latest award could lead to the baths offering more community space.”

Keeping Afloat | Newsletter February 2022

Friends of Moseley Road Baths are working closely with our Coalition partners to share information about some of the exciting developments happening at Moseley Road Baths. We will be publishing a newsletter every two or three months – we are very happy to share the first of these here.

You can also pick up a copy of the newsletter at Moseley Road Baths, or receive the newsletter straight into your inbox by joining our Mailing List.

Click on the image below to open the full four-page newsletter in a new browser.

Online presentation – Architectural work at Moseley Road Baths

Presentation by Matt Vaughan of Donald Insall Architects, Monday 24th January, 7:30pm on Microsoft Teams.

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths are very pleased to welcome Matt Vaughan of Donald Insall Architects to deliver this online presentation on past projects and future plans for Moseley Road Baths.

Matt has been involved in extensive repair and renovation to the Gala Pool, which now hosts a packed and eclectic programme of community activities. He has also helped the coalition, who are spearheading long term plans for the building, to develop plans for an exciting and ambitious £32.7million programme of works to bring the whole of Moseley Road Baths into use.

The presentation, held on Microsoft Teams, will be followed by a Q&A. To join the event, please click on the button below at 7:30pm on Monday 24th January.

Major funding boost for Moseley Road Baths transformation

The transformation of Moseley Road Baths and Balsall Heath library has received a major boost with the allocation of £15.5m of Levelling-Up funding.

This latest funding success will enable the first phase of an ambitious £32.7m masterplan to transform the Grade II* Listed Baths and Library, building on the successes of a ground-breaking collaboration between local, national and international organisations to safeguard the future of Moseley Road Baths.

Moseley Road Baths and Balsall Heath library are historic masterpieces at the heart of the vibrant Balsall Heath community in Birmingham. Moseley Road Baths is an internationally significant Edwardian public swimming baths that was saved from closure thanks to local campaigning and the coming together of a ‘coalition of the willing’ to imagine a different future. It now hosts a popular programme of swimming and wellbeing activities run by the community, although the building remains in desperate need of restoration. The neighbouring library, built eleven years earlier than the baths, is one of the council’s most well used services in the city, providing a range of vital facilities for local people – but this 125-year-old building is also in need of repair and improvement.                     

A coalition of organisations – Moseley Road Baths CIO, the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, Birmingham City Council, Historic England, World Monuments Fund, led by the National Trust – has developed a long-term vision to restore and reimagine these buildings so that they continue to serve local people as well as providing a new destination which will appeal to tourists. The regeneration of the baths and library will unite and transform these spaces into a heritage-led wellbeing, leisure and cultural destination.

The Levelling-Up grant will be used to fund capital works to the baths and library, providing a catalyst for further investment into these buildings and the wider Balsall Heath area. Initial works to the baths include essential repairs to the building fabric to prevent further decline as well as restoration of some of the historic interiors and the installation of lifts to the upper floors so that more of the building can be accessed. There will also be major improvements to the library including a physical connection to the baths to help boost the range of facilities offered by the buildings.

In addition to the Levelling-Up grant, funding will be made available from Historic England, Birmingham City Council and World Monuments Fund to initiate a 2.5-year programme of capital restoration.

Cllr Paulette Hamilton, cabinet member for health and social care, said: “I’m so pleased the project has received this vital funding which will secure the investments already made and fund much-needed work to the baths. The project has always been about so much more than the building though; it supports Balsall Heath community with people at its heart – run for and by local people, but open to the world.”

“This news changes everything for us,” added Karen Leach Chair of Moseley Road Baths CIO. “It has been such a challenge operating swimming within this amazing but crumbling building with its leaky roofs and antiquated boilers and filters. Suddenly the restoration we’ve collectively been working towards is becoming a reality. Not only does this mean a future for swimming but also for the baths’ and the library’s crucial role in creating livelihoods in the heart of Balsall Heath.”

Joe Holyoak, Chair of Friends of Moseley Road Baths said: “The Levelling-Up grant is an enormous step forward in the progress towards a fully repaired and fully functioning baths, progress that was started by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths in 2006. It will enable a significant increase in the benefits in health, education and recreation which the combined baths and Balsall Heath library can bring to the local population in Balsall Heath. As such, the grant represents a big contribution towards the achievement of the aim of the Balsall Heath Neighbourhood Plan, Birmingham’s first and so far only neighbourhood plan – and a better life for Balsall Heath residents.”

Lucy Reid, Assistant Director, Operations (Midlands and East Region) at the National Trust, said: “This is such welcome news for Balsall Heath and for the city and is a brilliant testimony to the power of collaboration and working together. It’s a milestone for all of our work to save and bring all of Moseley Road Baths back into use for local people and for Birmingham. We’ve still a way to go – but this is such a brilliant next step. We have been proud to lead and be a part of this brilliant ‘coalition of the willing’– which is an important part of the National Trust’s commitment to Birmingham and our work in urban environments.”

Minutes of meeting – 11th August 2021

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths Committee meeting minutes – Wednesday 11th August 2021 at 7.30pm, via Zoom.

Present: Joe, Mark, Rachel, Polly, Janet, Philippa and Viv

Apologies: None received

  1. Minutes of the meeting of 12th July – circulated. Meeting took place on Zoom, not Telegram as Joe and Polly unsuccessful in attempting to download and test the platform.

2. Reports from MRB CIO and management

  • Baths are currently closed due to a boiler failure, current wait for parts.
  • Niki has added members of FoMRB to volunteer list.  Any queries about the list should be directed to Niki.
  • Call out for a clean-up of the Slipper Baths for space for volunteers and staff, w/c 12th August.

3. MRB Alive events

Summer programme of events in person and online.  Includes Threading Tales Together exhibition in the Gala Pool and wellbeing activities in person in the Gala Pool.

4. 2021 Birmingham Heritage Week: Open Day 12.09.21

  • All tours booked up via Eventbrite on the first day of BHW going live.  84 people in total, 12 people per tour over 7 tours.
  • Joe, Russ, Damian, Janet and Mark are willing to lead tours.  Joe writing new notes and will do a ‘practice run’ with tour leaders prior to the tours.  Volunteers to meet at 2pm on Saturday 11th September to set up.
  • Discussion about Covid Risk Assessment – Rachel to share her Risk Assessment from Nelson Mandela Primary tours.  Request visitors wear masks, use hand sanitiser. FoMRB to provide disposable masks and plastic visors for tour leaders.
  • Route for tour to be agreed – congregate in Gala Pool where there will be chairs and information.
  • Rachel and Polly to do meet and greet in addition to tour leaders when they are not leading tours.
  • Joe writing a summary of the work that has been done by the CIO and Coalition to date which will be distributed to visitors.
  • Rachel to print 5×7 images of the Caretaker’s Flat and Committee Room taken by Kat for display on the day.
  • Gala Pool toilets will be accessible to the public on the day.
  • Viv has checked Public Liability Insurance covers the tours.
  • Joe is arranging for badges to be made for all volunteers.
  • Donations will be accepted on the day.
  • Rachel to create a sign-up sheet for contact.
  • Conversation about future tours to be taken forward into future meetings.

5. Possible changes to the constitution

The constitution as agreed in 2016 allows anyone to join regular meetings, rather than committing to a committee structure.  We will revert to a system whereby anyone can attend regular meetings, although they will need to request access to the Zoom call whilst we are still meeting online.

6. Any other business

The plant protocol will be taken to the CIO, although there is unlikely to be space at the next CIO meeting to discuss it.

The CIO are considering starting a gardening group in the rear courtyard.  Anyone interested should contact Emily Butler of Moseley Road Baths Alive.

Review https://birminghamheritage.org.uk/mrbaths.html and send any amendments about access to Rachel.

7. Date of the next meeting

Monday 11th October at 7:30pm.

What’s the Truth? What have you heard?

What’s the truth? What have you heard? is a series of short digital pieces for social media and messaging apps, developed by Women & Theatre from research with women living in Balsall Heath, working in partnership with Moseley Road Baths. They feature Yasmin Jasmine responding to local women’s concerns about different issues relating to Covid-19 and vaccines.

These films were developed from research working with older women who attend the baths’ weekly Chat & Splash session for women for whom English is a second language. The research sessions were fun, friendly and informal conversations with swimmers and other local people in May 2021.  Each short piece explores a different area of concern regarding public heath guidance relating to COVID-19. They were developed following social distancing guidelines, by Janice Connolly working with freelance writer Rupinder Kaur and community filmmaker Rachel Gillies.

Yasmin Jasmine was created in response to women saying they would like to hear stuff from a woman like them who they felt  had her feet on the ground and listened with her ears Yasmin is played by Rupinder Kaur.

What’s the truthWhat have you heard? debunks myths and explore new ways of community messaging around public health and wellbeing, by using the language and lives of ordinary people. For more information visit: www.birmingham.gov.uk/coronavirus.

You can also get up to date information direct to your phone or inbox by signing up to be a Covid-19 Community Champion. www.birmingham.gov.uk/COVID-19_Community_Champions.

Minutes of meeting – 12th July 2021

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths Committee meeting minutes – Monday 12th July 2021 at 7.30pm, via Teams.

Present: Joe (Chair), Rachel (Secretary), Mark (Treasurer), Polly and Viv

Apologies: Philippa, Zhor, Damian and Sarinder

  1. Minutes of the meeting of 14th June
  • Minutes approved, all items to be addressed during this meeting.
  • Polly’s draft plant protocol will be presented to the next CIO meeting.
  • Viv will create the Steve Beauchampé memorial board and get quotes from a framers.

2. Reports from MRB CIO and management

  • Joe gave a funding update.
  • There have been some strong applications for the role of Chair of Trustees of the CIO.
  • A new member of staff has been interviewed and will begin soon.
  • As part of ‘MRB Alive’, young people held a live streamed event featuring 10 presentations from ‘Little Ambassadors’.  The group had learnt about the history of the building and prepared presentations to advocate for the building for a live audience.
  • Splash and Scream event took place on 27th June, at least three local schools and pre-schoolers involved.  There may be scope for school tours in future.
  • Women & Theatre have been having conversations with the Women’s Only group and Chat and Splash group as part of a project to create short films addressing myths and misinformation about Covid-19.  Rachel has been working with them as the project’s Film Maker.  The films will be shared publicly within the next week.
  • MRB Comms meeting taking place on 13/07/21.  Viv and Rachel will be in attendance.

3. Moseley Road Cultural Activity Zone (CAZ)

A consortium of seven organisations on Moseley Road Baths have been successful in a bid for £45,000 to create a CAZ.  They will seek a part time manager to run it and organise monthly social, public facing events between August 2021 and March 2022 on the Moseley Road.  It may involve a road closure of Lime Grove.  Joe to circulate the document outlining the plan.

4. 2021 Birmingham Heritage Week: Open Day, 12th September 2021

  • Joe to request all FoMRB members attend if possible.  All in attendance at the meeting are able to attend on the day.
  • Open to the public 12pm-5pm
  • Joe will create a list of roles (including tour guides) and will assign people to roles.
  • The Gala Pool toilets will be available to the public.
  • Rachel to set up Eventbrite for bookings – possibly liaise with the CIO.
  • Maximum of 12 people per tour.

5. FoMRB finances

  • Outstanding amount due to Rachel for the FoMRB website domain name and hosting.
  • Comms – decided against purchasing a Zoom membership.  Polly, Joe and Ellie to try out the ‘Telegram’ platform. (N.B. Following meeting Rachel checked if Telegram has a video chat function for multiple members and they have recently introduced the service.)

6. FoMRB constitution

Discussion about the role of the ‘Committee’ and ‘Friends’ as laid out in the Constitution.  Need to build support and relationships through activities.  Will use the Comms meeting and BHW tours to build more support and invite new people to join FoMRB.  Important to remember that plenty of people ARE active in supporting the Baths already in other ways, particularly through the CIO’s activities.

7. Any other business

  • Niki as Volunteer Co-ordinator is building a list of volunteers for regular CIO activities.
  • CIO to send direct requests for support and help to members of the FoMRB Committee. All Committee members to e-mail Rachel to state if they are happy to be included on the CIO volunteer e-mail list.

8. Date of the next meeting

Joe to contact regular attendees to see if there is a better day of the week / month to meet.

Splash and Scream at Moseley Road Baths – 27th June 2021

Come and help _underscore as they develop the musical soundscape of a new site-specific opera at the Moseley Road Baths…

In this entirely free event we are opening the doors of the Gala Pool for private sessions of up to 6 members of the public to explore how this unique space behaves when it is animated through sound, which we’ll make using our hands, feet and voices.

Discover space through sound in these 30 minutes sessions as we explore the intimacy of its corners, dialogue with its echoes, murmur with its reverberations.

Through acoustics we unite… our distance may be socially separate but our sounds can come together.

You don’t need swimming costumes, but you may want to take off your shoes and socks for an optional splash!

Details

Date: Sunday 27th June

Session timings:

Sessions run throughout the day but please note, our first session is for families who swim with us only

  • 12.00-12.45 – Family session only (following the morning family swim session)
  • 14.00-14.30 workshop 1
  • 14.40-15.10 workshop 2
  • 15.20-15.50 workshop 3
  • 16.00-16.30 workshop 4
  • 16.40-17.10 workshop 5
  • 17.20-17.50 workshop 6
  • 18.00-18.30 workshop 7
  • It is 1 ticket per person (not family or household) although baby in arms do not need a ticket, everyone else will for Covid restrictions.
  • You must have booked a ticket to enter the event.
  • We only have 6 spaces per session, first come first served! (2 households are allowed to book, just email the address below to organise this)
  • Please get in touch if you have any additional requirements on emily.butler@moseleyroadbaths.org.uk.

Tickets available via Eventbrite 
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/splash-n-scream-tickets-158608966689

Please note that by booking this ticket and attending the session you automatically consent to granting full rights to use the images and sounds resulting from the photography/video filming, and any reproductions or adaptations of the images for fundraising and publicity. This might include (but is not limited to), the right to use them in their printed and online publicity, social media, press releases, funding applications and short promo videos. Takt will be filming on behalf of Outdoor Places for Unusual Spaces and Moseley Road Baths.

Minutes of meeting – 14th June 2021

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths Committee meeting minutes – Monday 14th June 2021 at 7.30pm via Teams.

Present: Joe (Chair), Rachel (Secretary), Mark (Treasurer), Polly, Janet

Apologies: Zhor Malik, Philippa, Damian

Minutes: Rachel

1. Minutes of the meeting of 19th May

  • Plant item may need rewording.
  • Balsall Heath NNO ‘What’s Happening in Balsall Heath?’ meetings are not currently taking place.

2. Reports from MRB CIO and management

  • Two funding applications are pending.
  • Emily Butler (MRB Alive programme) is planning for more community events to take place in the Gala Pool area (see below for current activity).
  • There are discussions about putting a stage into Gala Pool.
  • The CIO are recruiting for a new Chair of Trustees.  Friends are to share the role description widely.  The deadline is 23rd June.

There are no outstanding questions for the CIO this month.

3. 2021 Birmingham Heritage Week: Open Day 12.09.21

  • Please let Joe know if you are available to assist on the day.  We need greeters, people to sell merchandise and people willing to lead tours.
  • Joe exploring insurance issues with Viv.
  • Online booking will be available through Eventbrite.  Rachel to support.
  • Mark willing to lead tours – we will need to consider group size and frequency dependent on Covid restrictions
  • BHW organisers may provide detailed guidance nearer the time.

4. Communications to FoMRB

Rachel to set up an automatic e-mail on the contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk e-mail address to highlight that there may be a delay with responding to e-mails and to direct people to the CIO and to the FoMRB/CIO websites.  Monthly Mailchimp summary also to go out.

5. Plants at the Baths: draft protocol

FoMRB are happy to take responsibility for maintenance of the plants in the building – we will first ascertain whether or not the CIO are happy to keep plants in the building and for FoMRB to take responsibility for their maintenance.  We will put a call out for people willing to take responsibility for plant maintenance.  Polly will now finalise the draft plant protocol.

6. Steve Beauchampé memorial

The amended text has been sent to the CIO and the memorial will be created soon.  Joe to circulate the final text to the FoMRB committee  Joe to check the timescales with Viv.

7. Catch-up on the FoMRB constitution

An updated copy to be circulated by Joe to all Committee members and discussed at a later point.

8. MRB Alive and Educational Activities

  • Femtinos online children’s workshops. Joe to attend and present at ‘Little Ambassadors’ workshop on Saturday 19th June and Joe, Polly, Janet and Ellie willing to attend sharing event on Sat 10th July.
  • BCAT – art workshops taking place.
  • Splash n Scream – workshops commencing on 27th June.
  • Chat and Splash – Women Only sessions on Thursday mornings
  • Women & Theatre – running a Covid related project with women’s groups, Rachel involved as freelance artist.
  • Nelson Mandela School tours – Rachel and Viv leading on this, tour is booked for 23rd June.

9. Any other business

  • Pool of Memories book – question of whether to seek to republish.  Has previously been explored and cost and time is prohibitive.
  • Joe to send through funding application slides from Jo Dimitri (National Trust)
  • Discussion of FoMRB finances to be agenda item for July.

10. Date of the next meeting

Monday 12th July at 7:30pm via Zoom