Pool of Memories Progress

35 pupils in four schools have now been part of creating a total of eight films about the history of Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath, all of which will eventually be added to our online archive of the building at www.poolofmemories.co.uk.

PoMP - Park Hill School

The Heritage Lottery Fund supported project, run by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths has involved pupils in researching the history of the building, taking a tour around the Baths, learning how to make films and conduct interviews, and then finally editing their interviews together into short films to be added to our archive. Ever since I started making films in the community, back when I worked as a Receptionist at Moseley Road Baths it’s been my aim to get this lovely building celebrated more within the surrounding area. We certainly seem to be achieving that!

PoMP - Park Hill SchoolPupils have really loved the tours and have asked some really great (and challenging!) questions about the building and how it was built and is maintained. On several occasions I’ve seen pupils dashing up to parents and teachers to tell them all about the things that they’ve learnt. Apologies if you’re one of those people who has been bombarded with trivia! However, we know that young people are exactly the kind of ambassadors we need to ensure future generations enjoy the building.

PoMP - Percy Shurmer SchoolAll of the children have picked up on the film-making really quickly. We’ve had some real giggles mucking around with the microphones and playing around in front of the camera! We soon managed to form film crews with a Director, Sound Recordist, Camera Operator and Interviewer. Many of our interviewees have commented on the professionalism of the group.


All of the questions for the interviewees have been written by the pupils, who have shown a great level of maturity in their questions. These budding young historians have really grasped the concept of oral history recording and its importance for helping people to understand the past and its relevance to us today.

The quality of the interviews has been excellent, with some really interesting stories coming out as a result of the groups asking such good questions. We’ve learnt about the diving boards and drinks for a penny in the 1950s, competitive swimming in the 1960s, school trips to the Baths in the 1970s, someone almost having a baby in the pool in the 1980s and then in stories from more recent years we’ve learnt about the technical side of rebuilding the windows, what it’s like to work there, as well as hearing about the campaign work to keep the building open.

PoMP Clifton Junior

With five more school projects budgeted for over the course of the three year project I am now looking for other local schools who may wish to participate. The project is aimed at Year 6 pupils, but can be tailored for other year groups. The finished films are added to our archive, and many will appear on our online archive, www.poolofmemories.co.uk. They will then be used as part of our exhibition work and will form the basis of an extensive drama project. If you would like your school to be involved then you can contact us at memories@friendsofmrb.co.uk.

Here is an example of one of the films, created by Year 3 pupils at Clifton Junior School.

Margaret’s Exhibition is now open!

Thanks so much to everyone who came to the launch of Margaret Braithwaite’s exhibition of oil paintings of Moseley Road Baths. It was clear from the event how passionate people are about the building and what fond memories they have of swimming there.  The exhibition is on at the beautiful Birmingham and Midland Institute on Margaret Street for the next couple of weeks.

Margaret Exhibition
Jen and I went onto Carl Chinn’s show on Radio WM yesterday to discuss the exhibition and some of the work we’re currently doing through the Pool of Memories project. You can listen again on the BBC iPlayer until the 13th February at http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/p00dtv0m/, we are on from 47:20 for about 10 minutes.

A year of interviews

Slowly, slowly we’re taking time to reflect on our Pool of Memories project in amidst the business of interviewing, cataloguing, book-writing and filming!

Jen, our Volunteer Co-ordinator has written an update on our work over the past year since we received our funding on the ‘Pool of Memories’ website.  This site will be the main place for news on our Heritage Lottery Funded project, as well as being an online resource where we will place a selection of the audio recordings, video, photos and written accounts we are gathering from members of the public and former members of staff at the Baths.  Have a look around and don’t forget to get in touch if any of the events or people mentioned ring a bell.  We are always interested in hearing from new people!

Our first school project is complete

We’ve had a great time on our oral history film project this week – it’s amazing how much we’ve managed to cram into just 15 hours! We’ve now got two short films, edited down from almost an hour of interviews, which we showed to all of Year 6 today. The reaction we got was great, and both pupils and teachers asked lots of questions and were interested in running the project again. It really is the case that Moseley Road Baths inspires and excites people of all ages and backgrounds.

I’ll be spending some of next week producing more DVDs for all of the pupils and sifting through our footage and photos. Once that is done I’ll be putting the films up online, so keep checking back!

I would like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you to Mrs Reeves from Anderton Park School for all of the hard work she has put into making the project happen, thank you to the teachers who agreed to participate, the staff in ‘The House’ who have made me feel so welcome and also to the staff from Moseley Road Baths, Jean in particular, for opening the doors to us and giving us a tour. Big thanks also to our interviewees, Mrs Evans, Miss Franklin and Mrs Reeves. And of course it wouldn’t have taken place without the hard work of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, particularly the subgroup working on the Pool of Memories Project, or our funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund. Finally, thank you very much to the pupils who took part, it’s been good fun and I think you’ve created some wonderful work.

I want to leave you with a few short films we made with the Flip which is the pupils talking about the project in their own words.  The first is a rehearsal of the presentation that the pupils gave to the rest of the Year group. Enjoy and feel free to add your own thoughts on the project using the comments box below!

What we did this week from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

Ibrahim talks about the project from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

Umar’s thoughts on the project from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

Pupils set to work filming

Today the seven pupils involved in our Pool of Memories Project set to work filming people with memories of Moseley Road Baths. As soon as the session started they showed that they were completely on the ball by getting all of the camera equipment out and getting ready for the first ‘mock’ interview.

Setting up camera equipment

Our first interviewee was Mrs Noreen Evans, who came from Northfield, ready with a stash of photos to show us to help pupils to understand a little bit more about life in Balsall Heath in the 1950s. She went to Tindal School and was a regular at the pool.  She spoke about how going for a Bath wasn’t very nice as she didn’t like the carbolic soap.  However, compared to her tin bath at home, or even washing in the stone sink, it was a lot better.

Pupils at work

Miss Franklin from the school came and spoke to us about taking pupils swimming, and even recalled a time when one of the members of staff accidentally covered her with water!

Mrs Reeves then came in for an interview and talked about taking pupils swimming and even going swimming with her son when he was little.  She talked about how much she likes the high ceilings when she swims there.

Tomorrow we will be editing about 50 minutes of film footage into a short film to put on the website and to show to other pupils in Year 6.  In the meantime, here is a bit of footage from the Flip camera of the pupils interviewing Mrs Evans.

Why go for a bath at Moseley Road Baths? from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

Budding film makers

Day two of our Pool of Memories project in schools and pupils spent the day learning how to use all the film and audio equipment and had chance to film and interview each other.

The group set up all of the camera equipment and learnt about different shots and camera angles, how to use the camera and played around with different microphones.

Playing with sound

It was a real giggle using all the microphones, especially the ‘shotgun’ microphone which was good for whispering into and pointing at different parts of the room.

Using the shotgun microphone

We then went on to talk about how we conduct interviews, how we can put our interviewees at ease and help them to tell their stories.  We decided that it is best to ask open questions and to really listen to what they are saying to see if they need more time or more guidance.  To get some practice we interviewed one of the pupils about his memories of going swimming at Moseley Road Baths.  Everyone took on roles for this; one person was on camera, another did audio, one person asked the questions.  Afterwards we talked about what had worked well and what we needed to change to make our interviews better.


Tomorrow we will be taking all of these skills and interviewing people who have memories of going to Moseley Road Baths.

Pool of Memories school work is underway!

We’re absolutely thrilled that after months of planning our oral history film work in schools is underway!

The series of nine school projects involves local film maker and member of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, Rachel Gillies, going into local schools and helping pupils to create short films, based on their research and filmed oral history interviews with members of the public.

Today the first of the projects began at Anderton Park School and it will run for the rest of this week.  We began the day with looking at the Virtual Tour website and then went on a walk to the Baths where we had a guided tour of the building from Deputy Manager Jean Rabone.

Due to limited time in the curriculum and a marked decrease in swimming provision across the city, fewer and fewer young people are having the opportunity to undertake school swimming lessons, despite this being a component of the National Curriculum.  The pupils really enjoyed walking through the area as pupils from the school used to do on a regular basis.  We even stopped off to see the chickens on Malvern Street as we were passing by!

Outside the farm

We spent some time outside the Baths, looking at some of the detail, the sculpture above the Women’s Entrance and the general state of the building.  There was a lively debate about what ‘First Class’ and ‘Second Class’ meant above the doors!  We then went in and met with Jean who took us into the Gala Pool, despite it being closed to the public since 2003.  We took some time to look at the detail and learnt about some of the activities that used to take place in there.


We then went into the ‘Slipper Baths’ and learnt more about people who went there for baths and what happened when they came in.  A few of the group thought that paying a bit of money at the baths was probably better than paying for the bills at home!


The pupils especially enjoyed going into the boiler room to see the huge boilers and filter tank.  There were lots of questions about the system and how the water was filtered and heated.


Tomorrow we will be looking at the Virtual Tour website and completing a quiz, before going on to learn how to use all of the film equipment.  We’ll be finding out what an oral history interview is, practicing our interview techniques and then even filming each other!  On Wednesday we’ll be putting all of our research, filming and interviewing skills into use by filming people from the school and the wider community talking about their memories of going to Moseley Road Baths.  Later in the week we will edit and share our film with the rest of Year 6.

A successful Memories and Memorabilia Day

On Saturday we had another wonderful Memories and Memorabilia Day, our fourth successive annual event to mark the building’s birthday.  In total we took 59 people for tours of the Baths, we had a full room for Neil Bonner’s talk on Manchester’s Victoria Baths and lots of people left details, shared their memories and tucked into Russ’ wonderful soup!

We had lots of people coming up and looking at our stalls, finding out more about our Pool of Memories project as well as looking through our exhibition.


We were also lucky enough to be able to display Margaret Braithwaite’s lovely paintings of Moseley Road Baths.

Margaret's paintings

The feedback from the tours of the building was excellent, with many people never having ventured beyond Pool 2.  Both Steve and Mark gave tours which took in the slipper baths, the boiler room and the laundry room.


Meanwhile, I had a lovely time chatting with people about their memories of Moseley Road Baths.  Eileen, pictured below, lived two doors down from the Baths between 1960 and 1964 and vividly remembers attending dances there, swimming with friends, and even using the Baths.  She also told us the story of when Billy Fury came to stay next door at what is now the Gurdwara!

Eileen interviewee

Thanks so much to all who attended, to the members of Victoria Baths who kindly came along, to everyone who held a stall at the event, to our volunteers for their hard work and of course to the long suffering members of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths Committee who put so much work into the day!

Last minute planning

With only two days to go until our Memories and Memorabilia Day the Friends of Moseley Road Baths and our oral history volunteers are going into overdrive to ensure that all our visitors come away with that warm glow that we’ve managed to achieve in previous years!

Last night we finalised a lot of our displays after hours and hours spent going through our oral history audio recordings.  I’ve been putting some of the best snippets together for visitors to have a listen to.  Meanwhile I know that others are leafing through memory sheets, laminating stuff, mounting pictures, and in the case of the group from The Victoria Baths in Manchester plotting their trip down to deliver their talk… and you know what?  It’s so exciting to be a part of it and to have the chance to share all of these fabulous memories with everyone!  There are some real gems, I particularly like this one of local pupils on the campaign trail!

Pupils banner

So, last minute planning….

If you haven’t already told your friends and family, made a note in your diary, spoken to that elderly neighbour who you know just LOVES local history, then do it now!!  Drop me a line at memories@friendsofmrb.co.uk if you want me to send you flyers or more information.

If you want to join one of our three tours of Moseley Road Baths, including many areas that are currently completely sealed off to the public, you will need to book your place to guarantee a spot.  Again, drop me a line or ring 07967 093 256 and state whether you want to join us at noon, 1pm or 3:30pm.  All tours leave from Mary Street Church Centre on the junction with Edward Road.  Be prepared for stairs and uneven surfaces!

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths group will be providing light refreshments, but as with previous years we encourage anyone with baking skills to add to our array of homemade cakes!  There’s something about a slice of cake and a cuppa that really gets people reminiscing!

We are really keen for those amongst you who swam, washed, worked, dived or danced at the baths to add your own memories (and memorabilia) to our growing archive by recounting and possibly recording your stories to our oral history volunteers who will be on hand for just this purpose.  Come prepared!

Finally, just in case you are unsure of directions, here’s a handy map! There is limited car parking at the venue (access on Mary Street), with some additional on-street parking.

View Larger Map

Can’t wait to see you there!

Last year’s tour

To get you warmed up for this year’s Memories and Memorabilia Day on 30th October, we wanted to share with you once again the excellent video that Alex Gamela and colleagues at HashBrum put together of the tour. Don’t forget that you will need to book this year’s tours in advance by e-mailing your preferred time to memories@friendsofmrb.co.uk or ringing us on 07967 093 256.


Moseley Road Baths Tour from Alex Gamela on Vimeo.