A Beauty in Decay – Birmingham’s Moseley Rd Heritage Baths

Balsall Heath Moseley Baths, Birmingham
Moseley Baths, Birmingham

After over a year working with a core team on the Love Withington Baths campaign & project, our visits out to other amazing buildings in the heart of their communities have sealed it – I’m officially a Pool Geek. How gorgeous is the building above, Moseley Road Baths, currently being left to rot by Birmingham City Council even though it’s Grade II listed? It makes my heart weep that councils up and down the country are so firmly fixated on flashy new builds that many overlook, ignore and wantonly disregard these incredible structures which have served communities so well for so long, and could do for many decades into the future with sound planning, care and respect for what local people actually want.

Looking round the building above earlier this week only firmed my resolve to keep fighting for Withington’s pool & centre and to ensure it never gets to the point of decay that parts of Moseley Road have. We’re potty in this country, to allow so much of our money to be spent on things we couldn’t give a hoot about and so little to be spent on the things that matter and the structures which could revitalise and regenerate our village & town centres. How can we let such beautiful, intricate buildings stand empty and unused? Are they just too complicated for many councils to understand and get a grip of? The more I speak with community groups who’ve taken similar pools over and made them thriving & profitable, the more it seems like the blame is very firmly at the feet of some councils who simply don’t want to deal with old property stock, they see it as irritating money pits, complicated weights round their necks which are just too difficult to deal with.I was told by a councillor “We’re not guardians of heritage, you know”.

We’re getting good feedback from Manchester City Council and are determined that this awful situation will not happen at our beloved Withington Baths. It would just be too awful to imagine this level of decay creeping through a building so many people love and are fighting for.

Empty pool at Moseley Baths, Birmingham

2014-03-14_00092014-03-14_0008The engineering within the building took my lady builder breath away. It’s hard to get a scale of the massive tap below but the gigantic metal tank was about 10m x 30m and was up on the second floor. Can you even imagine how heavy that was, and when full of water?! I can’t believe we don’t celebrate such feats of engineering. Instead councils leave them to rot.

2014-03-14_0006Huge ballcock at Moseley Road Baths, Birmingham2014-03-14_0012The beautiful and intricate tiled changing rooms on the side of the pool are still there, the old bathhouse with slipper baths and giant floor standing taps stands empty and the carved ticket office is locked up & abandoned. It makes me so so sad to think all this might be destroyed in the name of progress 😦

2014-03-14_0011 2014-03-14_0001 2014-03-14_0003Even the original laundry room is still intact, with massive steel runners, speeding doors and enamelled number plates. For a property & interiors lover like me, it was like being in Instagram heaven but with the very sad thought that it should be a thriving community hub, not a decaying, part used pigeon paradise.
2014-03-14_0007We had a lovely swim in the pool which is still in use and I really hope that the Friends Of Moseley Road Baths win their battle and swimming continues in this amazing building alongside renovation & restoration.

Meanwhile it’s an onward fight for Withy Baths, our business plan is almost complete. We’ve done lots and lots of research and truly believe that our community group could make a resounding success of running the Baths & building from 2015. Scary, but not as scary as letting the above happen to it.

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