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Mosely Rd Baths: memories, the future and the first national swimming musuem?

Yesterday I managed to grab a chat with Russ Spring, the chairman of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths. Russ was able to tell me a bit more about the Friends’ plans for the Memories and Memorabilia Day at the baths on Saturday and how it feeds directly into a longer term project, the eventual restoration of the baths and, potentially, even Britain’s first national swimming museum.
“Apart from being part of an ongoing campaign to highlight the importance not only of the architecture but as a facility for swimming, it is also part of a longer term plan, the Pool of Memories project, which we are waiting to get funding for from the lottery,” Russ told me.
This project, for which the Friends have submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to ‘preserve and celebrate’ the history of the baths. It will provide, according to the friends’ website, “an extensive oral history project encompassing a wide range of activities including the production of a book, teaching resource, DVD, permanent exhibition and drama project”.
The Memories and Memorabilia day will help to gather material for the Pool of Memories project.
“[On Saturday] we are hoping there will be people coming down, sharing their own memories of the baths. But we are also hoping that people who are interested in the building and area’s history will be coming down,” said Russ. He explained that, along with the organised tours of the pool – where you’ll be able to get a better look at the Grade II-listed building,– the Friends will be recording and videoing peoples’ own stories about the pool.
However the plans for the Pool of Memories go, the chief concern of the Friends remains getting Moseley Road Baths back to its former glory. As Russ explained it has been neglected now for a long time.
“Large parts of it are now unused, including the Gala Pool, with only a small part being utilised. We are hoping that in January the council will have the results of a feasibility study and, if this goes the way we want, the Gala Pool will be reopened. If it’s reopened that will secure swimming at the facility for the foreseeable future. Then we hope to bring in funding to develop the rest of the site.”
He said he hopes to see a ‘refurbished and revitalised’ Moseley Road Baths, with facilities dedicated to fitness, health and well being.
“We’d like there to be therapy examination rooms, steam rooms, and saunas, a healthy, diet-based café and also we are working on basing the first museum of swimming.” Russ said this would be the a national museum. It would obviously be a huge fillip for the baths and help to further secure its future. No doubt it would also please Simon Inglis. The co-author of Great Lengths – the historic indoor swimming pools of Great Britain – has been, in Russ’s words, ‘particularly supportive’ of the campaign to save the baths. Mr Inglis, who’ll be giving a talk at 2pm on Saturday, is one of two special guests coming to the Memories and Memorabilia day. The other, swimming historian Joan Gurney, will be providing an exhibition of photos, film, reminiscences and artefacts including historic swimming costumes. There’ll also be guided tours of the Baths, at 12.30pm and 3.30pm.
And, if you can’t get to one of the guided tours, you’ll be able take the virtual tour, which is already on the Friends’ site,

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