…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.
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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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
Plans are now well underway for this year’s annual event as part of our ‘Pool of Memories’ project. On Saturday 29th October, noon-4pm, Friends of Moseley Road Baths will be taking over the Moseley School of Art on Moseley Road (opp. the Baths) for the day to celebrate the Baths’ history and beauty through the medium of art!
Today we have selected 12 local artists’ work, encompassing a wide range of mediums, including photography, illustration, sculpture and portraiture to exhibit. The ‘Pool of Memories’ exhibition will not only be the only opportunity to see all of these works together, it will also be a rare chance to see inside the former School of Art, itself Grade II* listed.
In addition we will be screening short films produced by local pupils as part of our Pool of Memories School project. Pupils from Park Hill School, Anderton Park School, Clifton Junior School and Percy Shurmer School have filmed and conducted oral history interviews with people who remember swimming, working or washing at Moseley Road Baths. We will be premiering the most recent films from pupils at Park Hill School on the day – filming only took place today!
We shall also be welcoming Corinne Fowler to the event who will be reading an excerpt from her novel which features an account of a full immersion baptism in the swimming pool!
As usual there will be a selection of stories from our ever growing oral history archive on display as well as an opportunity to contribute to the archive with your own memories. If you would like to share your stories on audio recorder or on film then please come along!
Don’t forget that our exhibition is wonderfully complemented by the Balsall Heath History Fair and Exhibition taking place next door at the Make It Zone!
The Friends of Moseley Road Baths are looking for artists to submit work for an exhibition of art inspired by Moseley Road Baths and swimming in Birmingham for this year’s Memories and Memorabilia Day.
This event is part of the Friends’ Heritage Lottery funded “Pool of Memories” oral history project and there is a possibility that work submitted will be included in the book and website being produced.
The exhibition will take place for one day only on Saturday 29th October 2011 at the former Moseley School of Art on Moseley Road, Birmingham.
Work can be in any medium although space availability and any equipment needed will be taken into account during selection.
To submit work, please email to email@example.com the following:
- An image or still of the work,
- Size and dimensions,
- Equipment needed for display or performance,
- A brief statement about the work.
The closing date for entries is 7th October 2011.
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.
Best of luck to the group, we shall most certainly be adding material as our own Pool of Memories Project develops!
Pupils at Percy Shurmer Primary School in Balsall Heath are the latest to contribute to the ‘Pool of Memories’ archive of Moseley Road Baths.
Over three weeks they have worked incredibly hard to produce a short film about Moseley Road Baths in the 1950s. They started their research by looking at the ‘Virtual Tour’ of the building, and discussing their own experiences of swimming there. With the building currently closed to the public whilst important maintenance work is being done, we all agreed that we’re desperate for it to reopen so we can have a swim!
We then went on a real tour of the building, going to lots of places that are usually closed to the public. We focused particularly on the ‘Slipper Baths’ and discussed the reasons why people would have wanted to come to Moseley Road Baths for a bath. We realised that just through learning about the Slipper Baths we could learn a lot about the history of Balsall Heath!
Pupils then got out all of the film equipment and learnt how to use the camera and different microphones. There was some great team work as they pupils formed into film crews and helped each other to set up the equipment.
We then prepared to conduct an interview with Mrs Noreen Evans, who swam and bathed at Moseley Road Baths in the 1950s, when she was growing up on Tindal Street. We focused on asking open questions to encourage her to share her stories with us. It worked! We found out lots of interesting facts, such as the fact that there used to be diving boards and that some children used to jump off the balcony when no-one was watching. Mrs Evans made us all laugh when she told us what happens when you do a belly-flop into the water!
As well as learning about Moseley Road Baths and learning how to film and interview, we edited the footage into a film together. We ended up with a really good film that will teach other people what Moseley Road Baths and Balsall Heath used to be like. The film will appear on here soon. Pupils will receive their own copy of the DVD and a certificate.
Thanks so much to the staff at the school for their help in making the project happen, thanks to Mrs Evans for her interview, and of course, well done to all of the pupils who worked so hard to make the film. We’ll add it to our archive and make sure that lots of people see it on online and at local events!
Pupils at Park Hill School have been working hard to create their own short films about the history of Moseley Road Baths.
We started off with a trip to Moseley Road Baths. This coincided with ‘World Book Day’, so as you can see, everyone was dressed up as their favourite character for the occasion!
Pupils then learnt all about film and sound recording and how to conduct interviews, before coming up with their own list of questions for our interviewees, all of whom had some great memories of Moseley Road Baths over the years!
First of all we interviewed Katherine Jackson, who has been swimming at the pool for over 30 years. She told pupils how she almost gave birth in the pool 25 years ago. Now she and her daughter enjoy swimming together, and the building remains a special place for them both.
We also interviewed Jenny Austin from the Friends of Moseley Road Baths who talked about how the group was set up, and some of the things that they have done to campaign to keep the pool open.
Finally, we interviewed Desmond Simpson who is a stonemason who worked on the building in 2003 and 2004. He was able to tell us all about the materials used and why the work to Moseley Road Baths needed to be done. In particular he talked about the need to use lime mortar instead of concrete, and taught us what ‘mullions’ are. He taught us that because Moseley Road Baths is a listed building that it needs special care and cannot be knocked down.
We then logged the footage, deciding which bits to keep in the final film. There was some pretty fierce debate as there were so many interesting stories and bits of information that we had to take out! In particular we thought that there were lots of really good opinions about why Moseley Road Baths is so special. We then added music, logos, transitions and credits.
The films will be Premiered in a special school assembly in May where parents and interviewees will be invited. Thanks so much to all of the school staff who helped to make the project happen, to our interviewees for taking the time out to be quizzed by our young historians, and of course, a huge well done to all of the group who worked so hard to create three excellent films!
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.
As part of the History Project, we’ve been interviewing people who have memories of Moseley Road Baths. It’s been a fascinating 12 months – all sorts of people who swim or have used the Baths have come forward to talk about their experiences. We’ve completed nearly 20 interviews so far.
We’ve found out among other things that water polo was a massively popular sport at one time. Who plays this now? There were leagues in Birmingham and it was played at all the Baths. And then there was swimming training at the Baths for the Olympics in the 70’s.
We’ve unearthed interesting old photos : the diving boards that used to stand at the far end of the pool for example,and cup presentations.
Some instructors’ names just keep cropping up – Bill Eggison and Mrs Yates are the top two! It seems swimming teachers were rather more disciplinarian in those days.
One of my favourite interviews was with Lily, who remembers when the Baths was a First Aid Station in the second World War. The Fire exit at the back of Pool 2 which is currently undergoing work (it’s why the baths is temporarily closed) was made specially wide to enable ambulances to get through.
Then there is Denis who told us all about his memories of playing in dance bands in the 40’s and 50’s and going to dances at Moseley Road Baths.
Noreen remembers going to the washing baths as they had no bath at home and telling friends she was “going swimming, not for a wash”, as she felt ashamed to have no bath at home.
There are more recent memories too. One interviewee talked about swimming in the 1990’s, when she was pregnant, and the lovely relaxed feeling it gave her.
Did you know about the Baths’ literary connections?: there are 2 well known local writers who swim or have swum in the Pool: David Edgar and Jim Crace.
And did you know an episode of the TV adaptation of DH Lawrence’s “The Rainbow” was filmed there in 1988?
We’ve recently been researching a fascinating period when full immersion baptisms were carried out at the Baths – I’m still gathering information on this.
All these stories, and others like them will eventually form an archive and will be available to the public in different forms.
Don’t forget, if you have any memories of this or any other topic concerned with the Baths please share it with us.
The contact details are on the website and we’d love to hear from you.