Perilous state of city landmark recognised.
Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham has been named as one of just two UK sites on the 2016 World Monuments Watch.
Every two years the World Monuments Watch draws international attention and helps secure support for some of the world’s most remarkable and fragile cultural heritage. Marking 20 years of World Monuments Fund’s flagship advocacy programme, the 2016 Watch features 50 sites in 36 countries dating from prehistory to the twentieth century.
Each site is under threat and facing an uncertain future, and the 2016 list reflects conservation issues that are prevalent across the globe. From war and conflict to development pressures, natural disasters, a lack of resources and the impact of social, political and economic change, the Watch is a call to action that brings the fragility of these sites and the dangers they face to international attention. It also identifies opportunities for local communities to work together with conservation agencies, governments, corporate sponsors, and others to help ensure each site’s future.
This year’s list includes an entire country’s cultural heritage sites destroyed by a devastating earthquake (Nepal); the remains of a medieval Swahili town at risk from the effects of a harsh climate and looters (Kua Ruins, Tanzania); a beloved coastal promenade in Beirut that is the latest victim of a development frenzy that has destroyed many of the city’s open spaces (Dalieh of Raouche, Lebanon); and the near-forgotten remains of World War II concentration camps in Italy.
John Darlington, Executive Director of World Monuments Fund Britain says: “Moseley Road Baths is a rare survival: a public building that echoes the class and gender divisions of the early twentieth century, but one that is still cherished by local communities today. We have put it on the 2016 World Monuments Watch because it needs help, and as a reminder in this time of austerity of the importance of our more recent public heritage.”
Owned by Birmingham City Council, the baths have been under serious threat of closure since the mid 1990s due to their age and the ongoing cost of maintenance. The gala pool was closed in 2003 due to major structural problems, and underfunding has led to years of neglect, with many architectural features now vulnerable. Despite urgent repairs in 2010 the site continues to deteriorate and the building is scheduled for closure in 2016 on the completion of brand new swimming facilities in the local area.