Out of the deep end - exploring a future for Moseley Road Baths
The future of Moseley Road Baths looks more optimistic following the announcement that an Action Group has won the backing of Historic England, the National Trust and Prince's Regeneration Trust to investigate fully options for restoring the Grade II* listed building and pools open.
The news follows the Heritage Lottery Fund Bid for the former Moseley School of Art building opposite, http://birminghamcentral.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-heart-of-moseley-road-story.html, and the recent listing of the baths on a World Monuments Fund Watch List as being under threat, http://birminghamcentral.blogspot.com/2015/10/monumental-pool.html.
The Action Group is made up of the following organisations, the Friends of Moseley Road Baths, Ashram Moseley Housing Association, Balsall Heath Forum, Birmingham Conservation Trust, Development in Social Enterprise, Localise WM, National Trust, RnR Organisation, St Pauls Trust, Balsall Heath History Society, http://www.friendsofmrb.co.uk/about/mrb-action-group/.
The group has started to explore ways of keeping the baths open under community ownership as the continuing budget cuts facing Birmingham City Council suggest local authority management of the baths is unlikely. The options include swimming, community uses and heritage and a combination of uses is likely to enable cover of the day-to-day running costs as well as finding funding for repair and refurbishment. Last week, Birmingham Conservation Trust director Simon Buteaux chaired the interview panel which appointed the partnership of the National Trust and Prince's Regeneration Trust to carry out appraisal options, http://www.birminghamconservationtrust.org/2016/04/12/moseley-road-baths-update/
Historic England's planning director Veryan Heal said: "We are pleased to be supporting the first stage for this project, which we believe will lead to securing the repair and future of this important Grade II* building, enabling it to be removed from the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register."
Ros Kerslake, from The Prince's Regeneration Trust, added: "We are thrilled to be working with the Moseley Road Baths Action Group and the National Trust to explore the conservation of the building and potential additional uses.
"Together, we can ensure this special place reaches its full potential and has a long and secure future."
Andy Beer, regional director for the National Trust in the Midlands, said: "Moseley Road Baths is one of Birmingham's most beautiful and significant buildings.
"It is also of national importance - standing almost unchanged since 1907 it is the oldest baths still in use in the UK."
It is hoped the experience and running of Manchester's Victoria Baths is an example of how the baths can be saved although the initial repair costs to address the poor state of the fabric of the building will need to be addressed before Moseley Road Baths can be run on a not-for-profit basis, http://www.friendsofmrb.co.uk/2016/04/press-release-team-appointed-for-moseley-road-baths-options-appraisal/.
Meanwhile another of Birmingham's pools looks to be transformed with plans for the redevelopment of Northfield Leisure Centre revealed at Northfield Leisure Centre on Wednesday 13th April, http://b31.org.uk/2016/03/view-plans-for-new-northfield-leisure-centre-pool-at-exhibition/
The redevelopment follows the regeneration of Harborne's pool which opened in January 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-16390244, and is operated and managed by Places for People Leisure on behalf of Birmingham City Council.
The plans for Northfield will see an £8m new build on the existing site replacing the baths which opened on 8th May 1937.
Images of the proposed new pool are reproduced below from: http://b31.org.uk/2016/03/view-plans-for-new-northfield-leisure-centre-pool-at-exhibition/