Celebrations planned for local landmark.
A talk by a world expert on historic swimming pools, a celebrity swimming challenge and a set by Birmingham skiffle stars Terry and Gerry are amongst the highlights of the 109th birthday celebrations at the Grade II* Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath this Sunday, October 30th (10am-6pm).
The ‘Watch Day’, which also features tours of the building and a water polo challenge match, is organised by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths and is being held to mark the Baths’ in-clusion on the World Monuments Fund Watch list for 2016/17. The Watch list is published every two years in order to focus attention on sites of architectural significance around the world that are under threat.
Tours take place throughout the day on a first come, first served basis, with access to areas normally closed to the public, such as the slipper baths, gala pool, laundry room, water tank and boiler house. Each of these areas feature original layouts and a wealth of original fixtures and fittings.
Simon Inglis’ illustrated talk: Great Lengths – A Quick Dip into Britain’s Magnificent Historic Pools starts at 4pm and Birmingham-born Simon has no doubt about Moseley Road Baths’ importance and historical significance: “There are precious few baths from the early 20th Century still operating around the world and Moseley Road really is one of the very best. It is a Premier League pool and an asset that the city of Birmingham should treas-ure.”
Terry Lilley and Gerry Colvin, frontmen of skiffle band Terry and Gerry, are pleased to be performing in a building where each used to swim regularly and in an area of the city where all of the band used to live. The former John Peel favourites toured with Status Quo last year and will be part of a day of music by local musicians in the stunning (if now somewhat the worst for wear) Gala Pool. They’ll be on stage from 4pm.
Water Polo was once a regular activity at the baths when the Gala (or First Class) pool was open (it closed in 2003). Resident swimming club Moseley Shoals take on the Friends of Moseley Road Baths at 1:30pm in Pool 2 and given that the Friends have never played the game before, a high scoring match is anticipated! At the conclusion of the water polo, two hours of free swimming sessions begin, again on a first come, first served basis, and those who have never swum at Moseley Road Baths before are particularly encouraged to come along.
The Friends are on a quest to discover the oldest living user of the building and are hopeful of finding someone who used the Baths in the early 1930s or earlier. That person will be guest of honour at the Watch Day and given a VIP tour of the building. At the opposite end of the age range, the winners of a competition for local children to design a Moseley Road Baths poster will be announced with the entries displayed around the building.
World Monuments Fund Watch Day at Moseley Road Baths is supported by American Express. The company has made a five figure donation which is to be used for public activities and/or physical interventions that can help advance the Friends campaign to protect the building, of which Watch Day is a part.
The AmEx award is a direct result of the Edwardian building being included on the 2016 World Monuments Watch. Mark Gunton, Treasurer of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths said: “The money being provided by American Express has given a wonderful boost to the fight to keep this historic building open. It’s a direct result of the inclusion on the World Mon-uments Watch list and we’re working very hard with the team at World Monuments Fund to make sure the American Express money is followed by other donations so that we can keep swimming at Moseley Road Baths.”