Baths reopening now scheduled for mid-Jan

Here is Cllr Mullaney’s latest update on work to the Baths, dated 29th September.

I attended a meeting this afternoon with the contractors who will shortly start working on re-opening Moseley Road baths. The good news is that we are still on target to re-open the swimming baths in mid-January 2012.

My last blog update was on 25th August and can be seen at

The contractors will move onto site on 17th October and spend six weeks removing all asbestos from the basement. End date is 25th November.

From 25th November, work will begin on installing the permanent structural scaffolding in the basement which will replace heavily corroded temporary scaffolding which is holding up large sections of the floor plate of the building. This work will take six weeks to complete. Taking into account the Christmas break, we anticipate work finishes mid-January and the baths re-opening.

On top of this work, I have successfully bid for money from the Council’s corporate centre to do the following:

£50,000 to prepare a Heritage Lottery bid for just over £5million for phase one of the works to restore these baths.

£80,000 for ‘sticking plaster’ works to get the swimming baths through the next two years, in preparation for any restoration monies. The ‘sticking plaster’ works have still to be finalised, but we hope these will include minor roof repair works, installation of missing rainwater guttering and a boiler service.

Baths to reopen after Christmas

Update on Moseley Road baths –25th August 2011 – just in from Cllr Mullaney

The date for the re-opening of Moseley Road baths has been put back to the New Year, following the discovery of large amounts of loose asbestos in the basement area.

My last blog update was on 25th July and can be seen at

The following is a brief update on where we are with re-opening Pool 2.

Pool 2 closed in December 2010, after it was found that the steel lintel above the fire exit in this pool was corroded so much, that it was in danger of collapsing and pulling down the wall and roof above it.
This lintel has now been replaced with a stainless steel lintel

While the new lintel was being inserted, the Council’s Health and Safety team inspected the basement and raised serious concerns about the structural integrity of a series of temporary metal props holding up the ground floor plate, which in turn were holding up the roof. The Health and Safety team insisted that these should be replaced with permanent props.

Before work could begin on installing these permanent props, the Health and Safety team designated the basement as a ‘confined working area’ and put in a wholes series of stringent working conditions, including an asbestos survey.
The asbestos survey was completed in mid-August and confirms that there are substantial amounts of loose Amosite and Chrysotile asbestos in the basement. Both types of asbestos are the most hazardous type of asbestos. Bits of gasket containing asbestos and flaks of rust covered in asbestos material have over the years laid on the floor of the basement. During that time, the basement has flooded several times, with the loose asbestos spreading throughout the basement, mixed in with other debris.

I attach a photo of a photo from the asbestos report showing gaskets and flaks of rust lying on the basement floor that contain Chrysotile asbestos.

All this asbestos needs to be removed, before the work on installing the permanent props begins.

The cost of removing the asbestos will be £80,000 and adds 10 weeks to the programme. We hope to have the money signed off next week and with the installation of the permanent prop, we expect pool 2 to be open after Christmas 2011, subject to no further problems being found.

I have enquired as to whether we need to do any more asbestos surveys in the rest of the building. I am assured that over the years all other parts of Moseley Road baths have had asbestos surveys and the basement was the only section not to have been surveyed.

I have also asked for the Asbestos survey for the basement to be checked to see if it can be made public on request. I hope to have an answer on this next week. Please let me know if you wish to be e-mailed a copy.

Chrysolite Gaskets

Chrysolite Rust

Birmingham University To Build 50m Swimming Pool

This article originally appeared in on 8th August

Birmingham’s long quest for a 50-metre swimming pool appears to have taken a major step forward with the announcement today by the University of Birmingham of plans for a major redevelopment of sports facilities at its main Edgbaston campus.

The University will construct a 50-metre pool along with a new sports centre at the junction of Bristol Road and Edgbaston Park Road, on land partially occupied by the Gun Barrels public house. The existing Munrow Sports Centre, opened in 1963 and which includes a 25m pool (dating from 1976), will be demolished although the adjacent athletics track will be retained.

The pool, scheduled to open in 2014, will cost around £11m, but at only 17m wide (6 lanes) it will not conform to International Olympic Committee standards and neither will it include diving facilities, Depth will be a constant 2 metres although a moveable floor will allow for sections of the pool to be made shallower to accommodate less proficient swimmers and specific user groups. A 400-seat spectator gallery will run alongside the pool.

The sports centre forms part of a wider £175m expansion plan including new library facilities, student accommodation and staff car parking announced today, It will be operated and managed by the University with the pool capable of being divided into two 25-metre tanks by use of a boom. This would allow it to be utilised by more than one type of pool user simultaneously.

Today’s announcement may signal the death knell for the city council’s proposed £58m Birmingham Aquatic and Leisure Centre (BALC) planned for a site on St. Vincent Street opposite the National Indoor Arena for Sport in Ladywood. Although BALC was lauded as both ambitious and impressive, its’ financing arrangements were never resolved (with a shortfall of almost £30m) and the project was criticised as being unaffordable at a time when community pools across the city were in need of cash. It met opposition from both local residents and Labour Leader (and Ladywood Councillor) Albert Bore and with expectations of Labour regaining control of the city at next May’s Council elections and no prospect of the funding shortfall for BALC being bridged, it was anticipated that the scheme would be scrapped by next summer.

In contrast, funding for the new University of Birmingham pool appears to be secure. The University is one of the city’s wealthiest institutions and is currently building a new centre for its music department (to include a 400-seat auditorium) set to open in 2012, part of an ongoing programme of new buildings and refurbishments at the campus that stretches back several years.

However, today’s announcement of a 50-metre pool so close to the heart of Selly Oak must cast doubt over the long-term future of two municipal swimming pools, Tiverton Road (the city’s oldest publicly-run pool, dating from 1906 and located just a few hundred yards from the campus) and Linden Road Instructional Pool (situated next to the Cadbury factory and opened in 1936).

While the Council Cabinet agreed in principle in late 2009 to invest heavily in community pools, faced with the need to make stringent savings following sizeable reductions in central government grants, the Council may be tempted to abandon the two pools (it owns Tiverton Road but hires Linden Road) and book time at the University’s new facility instead.

Such a move would doubtless face strong opposition from individual swimmers and pool user groups who benefit from the long opening hours and accessibility offered by municipal run pools. In recent years similar proposals for dual share pools in Harborne and Sparkhill have met with vehement opposition, with the council eventually backing down in both cases.

Responding to today’s announcement, Birmingham City Council Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture Martin Mullaney told The Birmingham Press that there were no plans to close Tiverton Road or stop using Linden Road, but that the Council would monitor the situation once the new University facilities were operational.

“We Want To Swim” Demo

As the six-week school summer holidays got underway a group of frustrated parents and children descended on Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath to complain about the ongoing closure of their favourite pool.

Summer holiday 'non-swim'

The Baths shut for essential repairs at Christmas for what Birmingham City Council initially claimed would be just six weeks, but more than six months later there’s still no sign of the building reopening, with the Council acknowledging that it will take another nine weeks for additional maintenance work to be carried out, leaving locals without a public pool, a situation exacerbated by the long-term closure of nearby Sparkhill Baths.

Around twenty Moseley Road Baths regulars attended Monday’s demonstration, organised by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths group. Jenny Wale, who came along with her daughters Millie (aged 9) and Sadie (11) said: “My children have nowhere to swim locally and because of the closure we have to drive several miles to our nearest pool. They’re missing out on something they love.”

Summer holiday 'non-swim'

David Pratt from Moseley Shoals swimming club was another demonstrator: “We are currently using Small Heath Leisure Centre to swim but we’d love to have our local baths back operating again.” The club have also tried using Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre at Alcester Lanes End but found it unsuitable for their requirements, being more of a leisure pool.

Friends’ Secretary Rachel Gillies remarked: “The school holidays have just begun, the weather’s been getting warmer and local children are desperate to come and swim at their local pool. It’s crucial that the remaining building and maintenance work starts as soon as possible so that this valuable and well-loved community facility can re-open and be enjoyed by all.”

Although work to replace the lintel above a door in the swimming pool (the initial reason for the pool’s closure) has now been completed, Birmingham City Council’s Urban Design team are insisting on the replacement of temporary scaffolding in the basement, while an asbestos survey of this area must also be carried out. Negotiations between contractors and the Council over the costs and details of this work have been ongoing for several weeks. On Monday, Councillor Martin Mullaney, Chairman of Leisure, Sport and Culture, stated that it would be late September at the earliest before Moseley Road Baths re-opened.

For more information or additional comment, please contact Jen Austin, Friends of Moseley Road Baths: 0121 440 5794/07521 734 022

Friends of Moseley Road Baths

July 25th 2011

Baths reopening delayed (again!)

We are sorry to have to tell you but we have now been informed that the pool will not be re-opening on July 15th as had been hoped. Following enquiries made by our Secretary, Rachel Gillies on Tuesday (later followed up with a ‘phone call to Councillor Martin Mullaney, BCC Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture), we understand that it will be a minimum of seven weeks (possibly longer), before the Baths re-opens.

The latest problem relates to the need to strengthen and replace the scaffolding in the basement (we mentioned this issue in an earlier post, last month). BCC safety officers have now asked for a series of measures to be taken in the basement before this work can commence. Cllr Mullaney tells us that he expects these measures to be attended to in around one week, but that the strengthening work itself will take six weeks, hence the minimum seven week timeframe.

One piece of good news however is that work on the new lintel over the door in Pool 2 should be completed this week, but with Tuesday marking exactly 6 months since the pool failed to re-open after the Christmas and New Year holidays, this latest failed deadline (the fifth, we think) is a serious blow and means that local children are likely to be unable to swim at MRB for most, if not all, of the summer holidays.

We’ll keep you updated, but please check back here for further details…and do let your local councillors know how frustrating it is to have Britain’s most historic pool closed for yet another couple of months.  We would welcome your thoughts on the closure, either via e-mail or by using the comments box below.

Baths to reopen in July

We received this update from Cllr Mullaney last night:

Update on Moseley Road baths -8th June 2011

First of all we have a new date for the re-opening of Pool 2 of Moseley Road baths – 15th July (plus or minus a day or two).

The stainless steel lintel above the fire exit door to Pool 2 is now in place. See attached photos (below).

The work to brick in this lintel in and remove the supporting frame will be complete by 8th July.

I have managed to secure the £50,000 to install permanent structural scaffolding in the basement. Work starts on the installation of this scaffolding on the coming Monday.

The background to why we need this permanent structural scaffolding can be read at

Subject, to no further faults being found in the building, the pool will re-open to the public on 15th July thereabouts.

In the meantime, work is still moving forward on submitting a £5million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2012 to start the first phase of restoring these baths.




Sparkhill Baths to be rebuilt

News has just been released that the bulldozers will soon be going into Sparkhill Pool and Leisure Centre.  The pool will be rebuilt, and the building and running of the new building will be put out to tender to private companies – something that the group formed to save the building expressed concern about over the course of a number of meetings with councillors and during the consultation.

Here is the link to the article announcing the news – we’ll be inviting members of the Sparkhill user group to comment in the next few days.

Work commences at Baths

Re-opening of Moseley Road Baths planned for late May

Following an extended period of closure caused by structural problems with a wall in Pool 2, repair work was due to commence at Moseley Road Baths on March 21st, with a hoped for re-opening date of no later than May 23rd. The Baths failed to re-open after the Christmas and New Year break ahead of work commencing to repair the lintel support to the rear door of Pool 2. However, many users felt the closure to be premature, occurring as it did some weeks before the finance needed to carry out the repairs was in place.

With Sparkhill Pool closed since June 2008, swimmers have been forced to use alternative facilities, such as the leisure pools at Cocks Moors Woods and Fox Hollies, or the narrower and shorter pool at Tiverton Road in Selly Oak. To many Moseley Road Baths regulars, such facilities have proved inappropriate to their specific swimming needs. The closure has been particularly problematic for local schools, with many unable to afford the transport costs involved in travelling to pools further afield and with little or no spare capacity on the timetable for schools at these venues anyway.

The door that needs a new lintel today serves as a fire exit, having been added during World War II when Moseley Road Baths was used as a first aid centre.

Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, has kept residents and the Friends of Moseley Road Baths informed during the last few months of progress in arranging the repairs and getting the funds released by the Council Finance Department. However, a start date for the repairs was only confirmed in early March.

According to Councillor Mullaney: “The objective of the works is to replace the lintel on the fire exit of Pool 2, which will allow the pool to re-open to the public. The work will take between 6-9 weeks, depending on the complexity of the issues discovered when the current rotten lintel is removed. So at worst, the pool will re-open to public around 23rd May.”

The initial work involves constructing a steel frame to support the gable wall after the present lintel is removed. Speaking of the building’s long- term future, Councillor Mullaney stated that meetings have recently taken place involving senior council officers and English Heritage officials to investigate ways in which restoration of other areas of the baths building could be undertaken as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid.

Work due to begin on Pool 2

Cllr Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Sports, Leisure and Culture has today put an update on his blog re. the work to Pool 2. The pool closed at the beginning of the year and it has taken until now to identify the extent of the work to be done, prepare a business case and secure funds. However, the money has now been secured and work is due to begin soon. The full text of Cllr Mullaney’s update is below:

Update on Moseley Road baths – 22nd February 2011

At the moment Moseley Road baths is temporarily closed. Background to this closure can be read at

As of yesterday, the funds to repair the fire exit in pool 2, which in turn will allow the pool to re-open, have been released by the Council Finance department.

I will be attending a contractors meeting next week, along with Council officers, to agree start and finish dates for the repair work.

It is anticipated that the repair work will require, at most, five weeks. So allowing at least a week for the contractor to move onto site, we are mostly likely looking at an 18th April re-opening date. However, this will be confirmed next week.

The repair work is quite complex, since a structural frame will need to be constructed above the fire exit lintel so as to allow the steel lintels to the replaced. The structural frame which will be required take the weight of roof that the lintel is presenting supporting

In the meantime, the water in pool 2 is being maintained on a slow circulation. This is so as to stop the tile grout inside the pool drying out and possibly cracking, plus it maintains the sand filters.

Additional to all this, several meetings have taken place between senior Council officers to look at ways in which the restoration works for the rest of the baths could be done in phases as part of a Heritage Lottery bid.