I spent a few hours on Sunday 16th September volunteering at the Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath, and thought I would share my experience.
I arrived at the baths at 1:30, and was immediately struck with how magnificent the building looked. I had never been to Balsall Heath before, and had no idea that the baths were there until it was brought to my attention by the BCT.
It was very impressive and I couldn’t wait to take a look inside! Suzanne greeted me and gave a couple of us volunteers a quick tour of the building.
I started snapping pictures straight away, the interior was so beautiful. I especially loved the Gala Pool, an impressive space with plenty of atmosphere. I was asked to be steward in this area first, and the quiet splendour of the pool was at times quite eerie. I even thought I saw a dark shape pass along the balcony which is closed off due to being unsafe, and when I asked the ladies who work regularly at the pool, they confirmed that they had seen the same thing many times before! I enjoyed imagining the many patrons to the pool since it was first opened in 1907.
Visitors seemed as impressed as i was by the Gala Pool, and many recounted stories of having swum there at various times. All had very fond memories of the baths, and even brought their children to show them the place they had first learned to swim. Some are carrying on the tradition by teaching their kids how to swim in the pool that is still open. (What would have been the second class pool.)
The tours came and went, and as time went on the baths became quieter, but I got the chance to spend some time in some of the other spaces and take some more pictures. I was able to take the tour, and learn a little more about the history of the baths, and see the laundry and boiler rooms.
All in all it was a lovely day, and I was really pleased to meet some of my fellow volunteers and have a chat. The haunting atmosphere of the building will stay with me, and I would recommend if you ever get the chance, to visit the baths and learn more about them. It would be such a shame for them to fall further into disrepair, and lose such an interesting and important building.