Memories and Memorabilia Day 2010

Our third annual Memories and Memorabilia Day will be held on Saturday, October 30th (the 103rd birthday of Moseley Road Baths) at the Mary Street Church Centre, cnr Edward Road/Mary Street, Balsall Heath (around 400 yards from the baths). Provisional times are 12:00-4:30pm.  The annual celebration was well received last year, when we were lucky enough to display some of Joan Gurney’s collection of swimming costumes of yesteryear.

Joan's swimming costume collection

This year’s Memories and Memorabilia Day forms an important element of Pool of Memories, the three-year history project for which we recently received a Heritage Lottery Fund Your Heritage grant of nearly £48,000.

An exhibition showing a selection of the photos, video film, reminiscences and artefacts already collected by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be displayed and visitors will be encouraged to recount (and record) their own memories and bring along their own memorabilia for inclusion in the project and our growing archive.

Those of you who attended last year’s Memories and Memorabilia event may well have enjoyed Played in Britain series editor Simon Inglis’ illustrated talk on Britain’s historic indoor swimming pools, based on his research for the English Heritage book Great Lengths. This year we are delighted to welcome our friend’s from the Victoria Baths Trust in Manchester ( who will tell (and show) us all about the past, present and future of these glorious Grade II* baths (winners of the BBC’s inaugural Restoration series in 2003), the equal of our own favourite water palace!  We visited the Victoria Baths a few years ago, and would really recommend going to an open day!

As in previous years, we’ll be providing guided tours of Moseley Road Baths, including the Gala Pool and ‘slipper’ baths, for which advance booking is advisable, if the demand of previous years is anything to judge from!

Exact timings, details for tour bookings and the full programme of events are not yet finalised, so please check our website for updates and details of booking a tour place from early September.

Admittance to Memories and Memorabilia Day is free although donations to the Friends of Moseley Road Baths group are most welcome. Refreshments will be available

Another view of Moseley Road Baths

We’re getting more and more interest in Moseley Road Baths from people who have been inspired by the building to do interesting and creative stuff. Alex Gamela came along to our Memories and Memorabilia Day last year and gathered a fair bit of footage and photography. He’s used it to create a Flash website which gives a really lovely view of the building, as well as providing lots of background information on the history of the baths. Have a look at the site here – but remember that you will need Flash installed.  Enjoy!

Notice of AGM

We now have quite a number of people signed up for the Oral History Training session tomorrow. I’ve been sending messages back and forth to our trainer, Cynthia, and it’s looking really exciting! I believe that there may be a bit of space left, so if you do want to get involved then let us know ASAP.

Thanks to those of you who have been in touch to volunteer in other ways. We WILL be getting in touch with you, we’re just getting everything organised at the moment!

And finally, our AGM has come round again. This year we would like to invite friends and supporters along to help us celebrate our ‘Pool of Memories’ project – receiving so much funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund really is reason to party! We’ll be putting on some light refreshments, reviewing the past year’s work and of course re-electing officers and making sure our finances are ship-shape. Please get in touch if you want to join us so we know how many to cater for!

The details are:

2pm, Sunday 11th April 2010 at Anderton Park School.

Mini history lessons

I’ve just come from a stall in Balsall Heath Library where we spent about half an hour talking with a group of young girls (amongst others) about Moseley Road Baths. To me, that chat really illustrated the importance of our Pool of Memories project.

Almost all of the girls attend Heath Mount Primary School, one of the schools still able to swim at the pool regularly. It’s clear that they love the building, and they all spoke animatedly about it. They were also all curious – about where the stairs lead to, about why the Gala Pool is closed, and why people used to have baths there.

We looked through the pictures in the excellent ‘Great Lengths’ book at pools around the country, and the conversation veered from pools in London and Sharm-el-Sheik to the Victorians and the Second World War.

The fact is that Moseley Road Baths gets people excited. It may be its beauty, it may be a particular memory, or it may be just one of the many stories of events that have happened within its walls. Today was one of those days when I feel immensely proud of this gem that sits on my doorstep, and excited by the curiosity that people of all ages have about the building.  If that’s not what ‘civic pride’ is about I don’t know what is…

Volunteer for Pool of Memories

Would you like to interview members of the public about their memories of swimming, bathing, socialising and working at Moseley Road Baths?  As part of our Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Pool of Memories’ project we are calling on volunteers to help us in our three year quest to find the best memories of the building.  Your interviews may form part of a book, teaching resource, DVD, permanent exhibition and drama project.We are holding a FREE all-day training event on Saturday 13th March at Moseley Exchange (situated behind Moseley Post Office).  You will get opportunity to learn more about the Pool of Memories Project and receive training from the Oral History Society.

Here is a filmed interview from our memories day back in 2008.  Gerard White talks about the teadances that took place at ‘Moseley Road Ballrooms’ during the war, when the Gala Pool was covered over for the duration of the winter.  He talks particularly about the impact of American GIs on the dance floor!

There are only twelve places on the training day, so we will be allocating places on a first-come, first-served basis and only for people who can dedicate time to volunteer for the Pool of Memories Project.  Please contact us on or ring Jen Austin on 07776 095 885 to reserve a place.


10.00-10.15 Welcome and introductions

10.15-11.15 What is oral history?: understanding memory

11.15-11.30 Coffee

11.30-1.00 Getting started: aims and objectives, who to interview, question approaches

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-2.30 Practical work: an introduction to recording equipment

2.30-3.30 The interview: do’s and don’ts

3.30-3.45 Tea

3.45-4.30 Practical work: interviewing

4.30-5.00 Evaluation of practical work

5.00-5.30 After the interview: summarising, transcription, copyright, archiving

Pool of Memories launched!

Our three year Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Pool of Memories‘ project is now officially underway!  We had our launch last week at Balsall Heath Library.  As always it’s lovely chatting with people about the project, so it was lovely to share some of the information, photos and films we’ve collected so far and to enthuse others about what we plan to achieve!

Thanks to everyone who joined us, we’ll be putting up a post soon about how you can get involved with volunteering to collect Oral Histories and receive free training to go out into the community and interview members of the public.  If you are interested in this or any other aspect of the Pool of Memories project then you can now e-mail us on the project’s own e-mail address,

Huge thanks to the librarians at Balsall Heath Library for hosting us.  Oh, and on that note, members of Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be at Balsall Heath Library on the afternoon of Saturday, 6th March to chat with library-goers about the project.  Pop in and see us!

Invitation to Pool of Memories Project launch

The Pool of Memories Project Launch Event is to be held at Balsall Heath Library Moseley Road, (next to the Baths) at 3pm on Wednesday 17th February 2010.

Pool of Memories is an oral history project through which Friends of Moseley Road Baths will document the history of this nationally important building and record the stories and reminiscences of the generations of local people who have swum, socialised washed or worked there.

The Friends of MRB recently secured a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Your Heritage’ grant of almost £48,000 for the project , which involves local schools and the community in the production of a book, a DVD and accompanying teaching resource pack, website and exhibition. The Project is also linked to Playhouse theatre in education scheme.

At the launch there will be an opportunity for you to find out more about the Project and, if you are interested, how you can help us build our archive of memories of the Baths. We do hope you will be able to attend.

Heritage Lottery Funding success!!

We are extremely excited to announce that The Friends of Moseley Road Baths has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund Your Heritage grant of almost £48,000 to undertake a three-year project researching the history of the Edwardian Grade II* Listed Moseley Road swimming baths in Balsall Heath, Birmingham.

Pool of Memories is an Oral History project incorporating several interlinked elements, including production of a book, DVD and accompanying teaching resource pack, website, exhibition and a ‘Theatre in Education’ scheme. The project will involve extensive input from local schools and community groups.

Commentating on the award, Pool of Memories Project Co-ordinator Jen Austin said: “We are delighted to have secured this substantial Heritage Lottery Fund grant which will enable us to document the history of Moseley Road Baths and record the stories and reminiscences of those who have swum, socialised, washed or worked there.

“For more than a century, Moseley Road Baths has been a hub of the community, providing swimming and bathing facilities for generations of local people. The Pool of Memories project will collate and preserve this history, providing a detailed picture and valuable archive of this nationally important building and its role in Birmingham’s history.”

Explaining the importance of the award, Anne Jenkins, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the West Midlands said: “We are delighted to be able to support this project which will involve over 2,000 young people and bring them a multitude of educational benefits and skills whilst they explore the past of these well-loved local baths.”

An event to officially launch the Pool of Memories project will be held in February, from which point members of the public will be invited to contribute to the project.

For further information about the Pool of Memories project contact Jen Austin on 0777 609 5885 or e-mail us on the usual address.