New meeting date

As a result of the inclement weather we have been unable to go ahead with tonight’s planned Committee meeting which Cllr Mullaney, Cabinet member for Sports, Leisure and Culture was going to attend.

We have now put the meeting back by two weeks to Thursday 21st January, 7:30-9:00pm at Anderton Park School Children’s Centre. Cllr Mullaney will be in attendance from 8pm onwards to answer questions relating to the future of the building, maintenance work and the new timetable.  We are particularly anxious to find out more about some of the proposal to re-open the Gala Pool for swimming announced at last month’s Hall Green Constituency Committee meeting.

If you have questions or points to raise but are not able to attend then please use the comments box below to post up your thoughts.

Hope to see you there!

Constituency financial woes?

Shortly before Christmas the Hall Green Constituency meeting took place, with its main aim being to find a way to cut the constituency’s budget by £1m in order to help balance the books.  As part of this several points were raised which will affect Moseley Road Baths.  We should know more about these when we meet with Cllr Martin Mullaney, the Cabinet member for Sport, Leisure and Culture this coming Thursday.

The first point relates to maintenance work which has taken place over the Christmas period.  It is hoped that the short-term closure of the holidays will stop water leakages from Pool 2, resulting in £30,000 savings per year in water and heating costs.  Additional changing facilities will also be installed, thanks to the fundraising efforts of Philip Morris who hit the news a few weeks back!

Secondly, opening hours for public swimming will be reduced and replaced with extra time for club and group swimming (overall opening times will remain the same). The changes will mainly affect the latter part of the day. Brett Willers, the Constituency Director, claimed that there is significant unmet demand for group swimming, but acknowledged that the reason for the change was because groups and clubs pay to swim whereas most individuals currently swim for free.  We have expressed concern at this decrease in public swimming and will be speaking to Cllr Mullaney about this on Thursday.  In the meantime, we urge everyone to ring ahead of their visit (0121 464 0150) to check for timetable changes.

Finally, we are still awaiting the official announcement on a consultant’s report into re-opening the Gala Pool.  However, we have learnt that it recommends that there should be an initial expenditure of £300,000 to make the building ‘watertight’ with an investment of £9m in 2011 or 2012 to reopen the pool, with the work only commencing once Sparkhill has been reopened.  This is much less than some of the claims made in the press and is comparable with the cost of building a new facility.  We’ll hopefully have more information in the next week or so.  Watch this space…

A sponsorship star!

Every so often Friends of Moseley Road Baths get someone who comes along and blows our minds.  It may be someone who tells us about bits of the history of the Baths that we knew nothing about.  It may be someone who gives us pages of petitions out of the blue.  Or, like Philip, it may be someone who lends their talents and charisma to raising money for the building.

On 4th December Philip Morris swam half a mile in Moseley Road Baths, in under half an hour, wearing Edwardian swimming costume.  What’s even more amazing is that the 82 year old athlete has now raised over £350 towards improving changing facilities at the Baths.  We anticipate that the money will be used to provide communal changing space for schools.  We’ll be keeping you posted on our progress with that.

Well done Philip, thanks so much for your energy, enthusiasm and hard work!

Philip prepares to swim
Philip prepares to swim
On your marks
On your marks
Get set...
Get set...
Go!
Go!
First lap complete
First lap complete
...and another one
...and another one
Well underway now!
Well underway now!
Only one more to go now...
Only one more to go now...
Cheered on by FoMRB
Cheered on by FoMRB
Last lap
Last lap
Job well done, £350 raised
Job well done, £350 raised
...and in only half an hour!
...and in only half an hour!
Hard work but worth it
Hard work but worth it
Wheres my medal?
Where's my medal?
Ill settle for a cuppa soup
I'll settle for a cuppa soup
Thanks Philip!
Thanks Philip!

Swimming Without Water

We’re very pleased to announce that a very talented group of artists have successfully been granted Arts Council funding for an art project, called ‘Swimming Without Water’ at Moseley Road Baths, in our very own Gala Pool!

The group are anxious to make use of the space, raising awareness of that part of the building and showcasing their own work against the backdrop of the gorgeous Edwardian Pool.  Artists Flora Gare, Debbie Akam and Tim Skinner will  be working in the Baths and within the local community to create their work.  More information on the project will soon appear on their website – http://swimmingwithoutwater.org/

We’ll be keeping you updated on the project.  Exciting times!

A bittersweet experience

For so many of us who use Moseley Road Baths it’s a bittersweet experience.  How to convey the grandeur, the feeling of swimming in a palace, of being taken back to another place and time?  To a time when local authorities believed in providing ‘palaces for people’?  But how heartbreaking to see the dilapidation and lack of maintenance!

The vast majority of people who enter the building are quickly won over to fiercely believing that this valuable and unique facility should be restored to its former glory and kept for the purpose for which it was intended – a comprehensive swimming facility to serve local residents.

Having that discussion with the current state of the building and the contempt of some decision makers isn’t easy.  It can sometimes take a big stretch of the imagination to see how neglected areas can be brought back into use.

However, Alex Gamela and others on the HashBrum team have done some great work on documenting last Saturday’s ‘Memories and Memorabilia Day’ and showing both the passion and potential of the campaign.  Here is Alex’s film which I think captures the bittersweet feelings of so many of us really well.  Thanks ever so much!

Happy 102nd Birthday!

Well, we celebrated the 102nd Anniversary of the opening of Moseley Road Baths on Saturday in real style!  Our ‘Memories and Memorabilia Day’ on Saturday 31st October was a resounding success, with a packed hall and tours and wonderful feedback from all who attended.

Steve Beauchampé who has been a member of the group from the beginning and is the co-author of ‘Played in Birmingham’, which charts the heritage of Birmingham at play, led two tours of the building.  The tours took the public into areas that have been unopen for many years.  Apologies for all those who were unable to make the tour, we really were pushing the limits of how many people we could get in!  If you didn’t get round to putting your name down for future tours then please drop us a line at contact@friendofmrb.co.uk to be added to the list.

Just one of many bits of memorabilia shared with us
Just one of many bits of memorabilia shared with us

Simon Inglis’ talk on the history of swimming in Britain and Moseley Road Baths’ important place in this was standing room only.  He has some marvellous photos of historic pools, including images of a floating greenhouse on the Thames!  If you liked what you heard then there are several books in the ‘Played in Britain’ series which document Britain at play, including ‘Great Lengths’ featuring Moseley Road Baths, which are available from our group or online at www.playedinbritain.co.uk.

1890s Swimming Costume from Joan Gurneys collection
1890s Swimming Costume from Joan Gurney's collection

Joan Gurney brought along her impressive selection of historic swimming costumes to display.  Whilst the days of knitting your own swimming costume are thankfully behind us, there were some really gorgeous and fashionable outfits.  Perhaps wearing shoes to swim won’t catch on again, but many of the costumes made your average set of speedos look rather dull!

Thanks should also go to the groups who put on stalls and some really good displays.  Mentions here for the Victorian Society, Friends of Sparkhill Baths and Balsall Heath Local History Society who were showcasing their ‘Tales Out of School’ project.

To learn more about the day and our campaign, Andrew Brightwell and other students on an MA Online Journalism course documented the day and have put a selection of articles and films up on the HashBrum website, including some videos of yours truly getting rather excitable talking about the possibilities of the building!

I was also on hand to conduct filmed interviews with members of the public who wanted to share their memories.  Gordon Whittle brought along some fantastic photos from Woodcock Street Baths and shared his memories of working at Moseley Road Baths from 1970 onwards.  However, it was May Allen who trumped everyone to the earliest memory of the pools by a couple of decades; she recalls swimming there in 1938!

If you missed out on the opportunity to share your memories with us then please contact us to request a form to share your memories.  We will strive to put a downloadable form on here shortly, but in the meantime please e-mail us at contact@friendofmrb.co.uk in order for us to send the form out to you.  We really value all contributions, even if it is currently taking us a while to process them.  Hopefully our funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund will be successful, enabling us to do more than simply scratch the surface of these amazing memories!

Your cossies needed!

Friends of Moseley Road Baths are very pleased to welcome Joan and Gerald Gurney to our ‘Memories and Memorabilia Day’.  They have travelled from Essex with just a sample of 48 costumes from an even larger collection of swimwear and accessories that Joan has been collecting since the 1950’s.

Some of the costumes date back to the Edwardian era – so come and see how the first swimmers in our pool may have been dressed when they went for a dip!

Joan is a swimming historian who will be on hand on the day to answer questions and show you her exhibits.

We would also encourage you to search around at home and bring old costumes of your own, however embarrassing!  We are starting our own collection of swimming costumes, accessories, certificates, badges – in fact anything to do with swimming – as part of our oral history project. Come on the 31st October to the Memories and Memorabilia Day to share your memories!

2 days to go!

The excitement is building up to our Memories and Memorabilia Event on Saturday. Cakes are being baked, displays being finalised, videos being edited and posters and postcards are flying out of our hands!

As we are a small voluntary group we’re reliant on people passing on the word to other people. We’re always completely overwhelmed by what a great response we get. If you’ve not told people around you then please take the time to let others know about the event. Full details are here:

http://www.friendsofmrb.co.uk/2009/10/memories-and-memorabilia-day/

We’re also eager to hear from anyone who wants to share their memories, so if you want to be interviewed drop us a line at contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk. Likewise, if you want to bake a cake or have an unusual costume you can dig out to show us then let us know!

Flickrmeet at Moseley Road Baths

A couple of months ago the Birmingham Flickrmeet Group, decided to turn their attention to Moseley Road Baths.  The group, which meets monthly at various places of interest around the City took some absolutely fantastic photos showing many places in the building which are off-limits to the public.

Photo by Emma (EditorialGirl)
Photo of Laundry Room by Emma (editorialgirl)

It’s absolutely crucial that people get involved in documenting the state of the building, not only because it’s such an interesting building with unique features such as the laundry room (pictured, thanks to Emma (editorialgirl)) and slipper baths, but because it’s important that we highlight the criminal neglect of the baths and show just how much potential this beautiful building has.

You can view all the Flickr photos of Moseley Road Baths here.  Don’t forget to get in touch with us if you have any photos that you would like to share with Friends of Moseley Road Baths!  If this has whetted your appetite then remember to have a look at our marvellous Virtual Tour site where there are dozens of photos and videos of the building.