Category : Oral History Toggle

The Play House bring history to life!

During the Spring Term (I know, we’re behind with the updates!), The Play House worked their magic by bringing the oral histories we have collected to life for over 700 local pupils. Characters (based upon the accounts members of the public have shared with us) helped to tell the story of the building and its people throughout its history. Pupils had opportunity to meet architect William Hale, speak with the Baths superintendent, learn about ritual cleansing in the Slipper Baths and take part in their own swimming gala!

The Play House - Pool of Memories

There is more information on the project on the webpages The Play House have developed for the project. These include extensive resources for staff and pupils to deepen their understanding of the building, local history and collecting oral histories.

Have you been involved in a MRB art project?

Moseley Road Baths has always been a real inspiration to people doing creative, exciting things. A couple of weeks ago editorialgirl took a tour of the building and took this wonderful selection of photos, which complement her previous collection from 2009′s Flickrmeet for local photographers which we featured on here at the time.

We’re wanting to hear from others who have been involved in arts events at the Baths:

Have you ever organised an art event at Moseley Road Baths? Have you ever taken part in one, or just attended? If so, then The Friends of Moseley Road Baths would love to hear from you. As part of our Pool of Memories History Project we’re researching all aspects of the building’s 105-year history. So if it was an art show, a video shoot, fashion show, play, exhibition, TV appearance, or anything else then we’d love to hear from you. Maybe you were at Immerse, Swimming Without Water, saw Stan’s Cafe’s show, or maybe you have a copy of the Gangsters episode which included the baths, or the Dalzeil and Pascoe show that featured Norman Wisdom! If you think you might be able to help, memories or memorabilia (posters, tickets etc), then do get in touch at

The more I see you, the more I want you…

…so goes the song which was a popular number at the dance that took place at Moseley Road Baths, then known as ‘Moseley Road Ballroom’ in the 1940s.  Pupils from Anderton Park School learnt all about this and more when they interviewed singer and saxophonist Denis Brown about his memories of playing at the Baths in the 1940s.

Volunteer needed to help put our digital archive online

Friends of Moseley Road Baths are seeking a volunteer to contribute towards their Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Pool of Memories’ Project by putting excerpts of our digital archive online.

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

Friends of Moseley Road Baths have a firm commitment to preserving and celebrating the heritage of Moseley Road Baths. In 2009 we submitted a bid for just under £48,000 to the Heritage Lottery Fund for 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 bid was successful and we launched the three year Pool of Memories project during February 2010.

Since then scores of audio recordings have been collected and catalogued. We are now seeking a volunteer to select some of this material for use in the wider project.

You will be required to:

  • Listen to audio recordings
  • Select the best material for use on our website, literature and in exhibitions
  • Extract audio clips using audio editing software (we suggest Audacity)
  • Upload audio files to an online space
  • Embed audio recordings into our website (hosted on WordPress)

You will need:

  • An interest in oral history and appreciation of the requirements of our project
  • Experience of using audio editing software
  • Access to your own computer
  • A copy of Audacity (available to download for free)
  • To collaborate with the Pool of Memories project co-ordinators and workers

We are not looking for a certain number of hours or edited files. We are willing to work around your existing commitments – anything that you can contribute to the project is welcomed. In return we can provide references, give you opportunities to get involved in other aspects of the project and credit you in our ongoing work.

If you are interested, please contact

Park Hill pupils learn about swimming for kids

Pupils at Park Hill School have been working hard over the past few weeks with Rachel Gillies – Community Film Maker to create two short oral history films about Moseley Road Baths.  The project has involved the group researching the history of the building, learning how to use film equipment and how to conduct oral history interviews.  The group then divided into two film crews to film and interview two members of the public who had very fond memories of the Baths, particularly swimming there with their children.

The project started off with a fun look at the building using the Virtual Tour website, which allowed the group to look at parts of the building usually closed off to the public.  Through the site we were able to watch films of the laundry room, wander onto the roof and explore the Slipper Baths!  The pupils had loads of questions not just about the building, but about the wider social history of Balsall Heath, making lots of connections between what was happening locally and what they know about 20th Century British History.

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

After learning how to use film and audio equipment, the two film crews did an excellent job of interviewing Marion and Fran, who both recall swimming regularly at the building.  Fran told us about swimming regularly when she was pregnant and how much she enjoys swimming with her children now they are older.  Marion praised the pool’s excellent swimming lessons – both school lessons and the ‘Strokes’ programme.  She told the group how important it was to learn to swim and how staff at the Baths have helped her learn to swim as an adult.

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

The films were screened at our recent Pool of Memories Art Exhibition.  However, on Tuesday pupils did a proper Premiere of the films in front of almost 120 classmates from Year 4 and Year 5.  The group presented the films and explained what they had learnt over the course of the project, before going on to answer questions from the floor.  They will now be given their own copies of the DVD and certificates to reward them for their hard work!  The films will be added to our archive and will be appearing on the Pool of Memories website shortly!  Thanks to all pupils and to staff at Park Hill School for being so accommodating!

Park Hill Pool of Memories Project

Moseley Road Baths – at the ‘art’ of Balsall Heath

Where to start with summarising last Saturday’s fantastic art exhibition and celebration of Moseley Road Baths’ 104th Birthday? We were overwhelmed by the response from artists and those who attended on the day; what a timely reminder with the Baths currently closed that it still remains as popular and loved as ever!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

First off I must say a huge thank you to the artists who produced such fantastic work! Please do look them up and support them! They are: Anne Irby Crews, Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Harry Starling, Heather Ramsden, Helen Flanagan, Maria Reaney, Michelle Bint, Paul Hull, Paul Jessett, Robert Geoghegan, Rose Jennings and Vivienne Harrison.

Thanks also to Corinne Fowler who read an excerpt from her novel which vividly describes a full-immersion Baptism at Moseley Road Baths – something that the Riverside Church used to do. She did an excellent job of transporting the audience to the poolside in the absence of our annual tours!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

The day was also an opportunity to celebrate our Pool of Memories project so far. The bits of our archive out on display really got people talking and we got so many wonderful stories and great feedback! A number of people left their details for us to interview them, and this wonderful certificate was shown to us which dates back to 1928!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

I was lucky enough to do two wonderful oral history interviews with visitors. Betty spoke about her first attempts at swimming in the early 1930s and going for weekly baths, right through to swimming as a teenager, courting with Fred (now her husband!) and taking their daughter there when she was a toddler. Ruth was visiting from Yorkshire and spoke fondly of her 13 years of working as a lifeguard and how it was so much more than lifesaving but about building important relationships with the whole community.

We also screened films from our Pool of Memories School project, including Premiering two films produced by pupils at Park Hill School over the past couple of weeks. A few of the pupils were in attendance and proudly showed their work off to family!

Pool of Memories Art Exhibition

Finally, a massive thank you to all those who volunteered their time on the day and to the staff at the School of Art for making us so welcome. Over 110 people were in attendance which I think is a huge achievement for a voluntary group! Please do let us know what you thought of the event so we can build on this success for next year’s event!

Digital Balsall Heath

We’re really excited to hear about this collaboration between the smashing folks over at Balsall Heath Local History Society (who have been really helpful with our research and have supported countless events that we’ve hosted) and MACE‘s (Media Archive for Central England) ‘Full Circle’ Project. There’s a full report of the launch event on MACE’s blog.

The collaboration has seen staff from MACE assist local historians in locating archive film footage and then convert it into a format which can then be added to the MACE archive and used by local groups. In this case, material will appear on the new Digital Balsall Heath site, which aims to be an online, interactive resource for people wanting to look at the history and heritage of the area.

Digital Balsall Heath

Best of luck to the group, we shall most certainly be adding material as our own Pool of Memories Project develops!

Press Release – Park Hill Pool of Memories

Pupils in Balsall Heath have been learning about the history of Moseley Road Baths and creating short films based on their interviews with people who have memories of the building. As part of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths’ ‘Pool of Memories’ project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, they have been working with local film-maker Rachel Gillies to create a series of short films.

The pupils have taken a tour of the building, done research about its history and learnt how to conduct filmed interviews, before editing their footage into short films to add to the group’s growing archive.

Pupils from Park Hill Primary School in Moseley screened a Premiere of their films in a special assembly on 16th May at 9:00am. They include an interview with someone who almost gave birth in the pool, and another interview with a local stonemason who shared his memories of work to the windows back in 2004.

Park Hill Assembly

The Friends of Moseley Road Baths secured Heritage Lottery Fund money to run the extensive, 3-year oral history project, based on the history of the building. Four out of nine school projects have been completed, with more than 35 young participants from four schools so far creating more than ten short films. The work of the young historians has been added to a dedicated website, as well as being used in local screenings and in educational projects.

The project is especially welcome at the moment due to the temporary closure of Moseley Road Baths whilst urgent repair work takes place. It is hoped that the pool will reopen for swimming by mid-June.

“The children have really enjoyed learning about the importance of the baths within the local community. In addition, being able to interview local residents and make a film about it has been an invaluable experience!” said class teacher Clare Belshaw.

“I really enjoyed the project as I learned so much, such as how to set up a tripod. I enjoyed visiting Moseley Road Baths and learning about its rich history as well as being able to go into the areas that are closed off from the public. We also interviewed people and edited parts of the interview” said Poppy Emson, one of the pupils who took part.

Jenny Austin, the Pool of Memories Co-ordinator added: ‘This has been a fantastic way of getting young people excited about their local heritage, they really have taken the role of sharing and celebrating our local history seriously.’

Project worker Rachel Gillies added, ‘It has been wonderful to see how enthusiastic the pupils have been. Pupils have had fun learning about this beautiful local building at the same time as gaining research, interviewing and film-making skills’

The films can be viewed at: and

What we did this week – Clifton Junior School

Here pupils talk in their own words about what they did over the course of the Pool of Memories School project.  Well done everyone!

Eight Year 3 pupils have been working hard on a project about Moseley Road Baths. On the final afternoon they shared their films with two Year 3 classes in their school. They also did a presentation to let other pupils and the teachers know what they had learnt. This is a short Flip film of their presentation.

A very wet teacher!

I’ve just returned from a screening of two short films that have been created by Year 3 pupils at Clifton Junior School in Balsall Heath.  In six short sessions we’ve learnt an incredible amount about Moseley Road Baths and produced some really fabulous work!

Last week we went to Moseley Road Baths and had a guided tour led by the Manager, Dave Flora.  We were able to see parts of the building that are closed to the public, including the Boiler Room, the Gala Pool and the Slipper Baths.  We then looked at the Virtual Tour website to look at photos and film of the first floor area which we weren’t able to look at when we visited.

PoMP Clifton Junior

The group then went on to learn how to use camera equipment, and soon formed themselves into camera crews, with a camera operator, sound recordist and interviewer.  We practiced interviewing each other and everyone had chance to take on each of the different roles.

PoMP Clifton Junior

We came up with lots of questions for our interviewees.  Here is a sheet with some of the questions.

PoMP Clifton Junior

Mrs Brown is a Deputy Head at the school, but we learnt that when she was younger she almost became a professional swimmer!  She had brought in some certificates for us to look at. She also told a story about someone who used to teach at the pool who fell into the water with all his clothes on!

PoMP Clifton Junior

Members of the Friends of Moseley Road Baths also invited Jenny Hall to come into school.  We had met her at another event that we had organised and thought that it would be great for pupils to speak with her about her memories.  She told us lots of stories about swimming lessons and Swimming Galas in the 1950s.  She even told us that you could buy a hot drink in the tea room for 1p!

We finished off the project by showing the film to other Year 3 pupils who had some really good questions for us. The pupils will soon get their own copy of the DVD and a certificate for all of their hard work! Have a lovely half-term holiday, you’ve deserved it!