Pooling Memories

Sunday 24 February saw Moseley Road Baths open to the community to celebrate, as the final part of their Pool of Memories, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported three year oral history project, the social and historical importance of the baths.  The event offered free swimming, tea, coffee and cake with audio recordings, exhibitions, period costumes and the chance to explore behind the scenes at the building, http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/your-communities-friends-moseley-baths-1342387.

The day also saw the culmination of the £48,000 history project's production of a book on the history of the pool with copies available of "Pool of Memories - A History of Moseley Road Baths" by Steve Beauchamp√© available to buyhttp://www.poolofmemories.co.uk/.  
The book is a fantastically detailed look at the history of the pool together with a collected social history of the pool, through the experience of users and staff that provides a compelling case on their social and historical importance to the city and the importance of preserving them, Plug pulled to empty Moseley Road Baths?

The book provides a fascinating insight into the baths' central role in the welfare and health of residents that extends to the present day swimming but which until 2004 also included public washing baths.  Indeed, as the City assumes control of elements of healthcare, Cuttings cost, the role of the baths to provide opportunities for exercise and well being is perhaps as vital to residents as it was when the baths were built.

The following pictures were taken on the Pool of Memories event of 24 February and show the current remaining pool in use and the former pool and washing facilities together with the boiler works that keep the pool an enjoyable temperature to swim in.

Gala Pool
Aligned north to south the pool measures 81ft by 32ft and lowers in dept from 4ft 6in to 7ft 2in.  It is lined with white glazed brick on a bed of thick concrete slabs.  There are sixty-three dressing boxes around the pool.  Cubicles were more commonly partitioned using wood but the use of glazed brick is believed to make the baths one of only two examples still in use in Britain. 

Second Class Pool, now known as Pool 2.
The only one of Moseley Road's pools in use following the closure of the Gala Pool.  It measures 71ft by 33ft and lowers in depth from 4ft 6in to 7ft 2in.

The slipper baths.
The Men's Second Class Department were operational until 2004.  The pictures below show the Women's washing baths.

Corridor of Mens First Class Washing.

Ticket booths.

Laundry Room.
Cast-iron steam-heated drying racks in the first floor establishment laundry are unique and are the only surviving examples in a British swimming baths building.  The six racks (or horses) are placed on runners and pulled and pushed into place manually.  They were used to dry laundry as well as towels and swimming costumes hired by bathers.

Cast-iron cold-water storage tank.
Up a steep staircase from the laundry room drying racks is the original 45,000 gallon capacity cast-iron cold-water storage tank which supplied water for both of the pools.  This would have weighed 200 tons when full and the design of the building allowed for the weight to be spread and avoid the Boiler House collapsing.

Filtration Tanks.
Installed in 1932/3 the two tanks remain although only the first remains operations.  Until the 1930s water was drawn from an artesian well fed by a local spring.  The top of the well can be seen in the second picture with the manhole cover on the floor.

Gas-fired boilers.
Installed between 1981-3 and manufactured by Cradley Steam Packet Company they are rotated in use with only one pool operational.

Old Tom, Chimney Stack.
The chimney stack is 110ft tall and rises in the centre of the building.  It was substantially rebuilt in 2004/5.

For more information and to get involved in the campaign to preserve the baths the Friends of Moseley Road Baths website has more information:
Friends of Moseley Road Baths


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