On Saturday, supporters of the Moseley Road Baths will gather at the Grade II-listed buildings for a special event celebrating Birmingham’s most well-known, but at-risk swimming pool. Moseley Road Baths, Memories and Memorabilia – which hopes to offer all comers an insight into this unique building – couldn’t come at a more crucial time for swimming in Birmingham.
This month, Birmigham City Council announced that its planned 50 metre swimming pool would not be in place before the 2012 Olympics. The council is facing a funding shortfall of £2.2 billion and announced today (Monday) that it would make 800 job cuts. While the olympic-size pool will still go ahead, it isn’t clear whether the council can afford to improve on its existing facilities – and make good on a commitment to ensure that every resident has no more than a 20-minute walk to a public pool.
So just how good are Birmingham’s existing swimming facilities? The map I’ve inserted below gives a snapshot of the current situation. There are at least three pools that the council operates that are either not open or only partially so. Several of the pools are very old (including Harborne, Moseley and Sparkhill, all of which are included in planned investment to improve pools). It also seems that people who live in some areas are particularly poorly served. I live in Ladywood, near the National Indoor Arena and close to the proposed site of the new 50-metre pool, and I’m pretty sure most people couldn’t walk to my closest pool (Harborne) in 20 minutes.
Map of public swimming pools in Birmingham
View Swimming pools in Birmingham in a larger map
You may have to move the map a bit to see it all. Click on the pins for information.
My plan is to visit all the pools I’ve listed here over the next few weeks and create a much more accurate picture of the state of Brum’s swimming pools. I’ll be swimming in them, but also hoping to talk to as many people as I can to better understand the need for new facilities and what’s wrong with the existing ones.