Bear Facts

Recent travels.

Recent travels.

Hello, my name is Soho Bear. With everyone so busy getting ready for Christmas I’m helping out by doing a guest blog. Recently I’ve been on a bit of a heritage tour of the great attractions in Birmingham so it was only natural that I pay a visit to Stirchley Baths.B25ch17CUAEKrkCB25ckOaCcAEu2VV

I’m originally from Handsworth and live at Soho House, which was home to industrialist Matthew Boulton. Today the house is a museum that hosts a lot of community events. Because of this I couldn’t wait to see Stirchley Baths and get excited about all that the Heritage Lottery Funding will make possible!

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Last week, I and people from Stirchley community enjoyed a floodlit tour hosted by the site team for Belfour Beatty. We all put on our hard hats, high visibility jackets, gloves and goggles. During the introduction (where I made a new friend) it was explained to us that although the wet and windy weather has been a challenge, the building is now structurally more stable, with most steels in place, which means dozens of workers can now be on site.

The Pool.

The Pool.

The tour started in the main pool room and it is looking great! The balconies have been removed (although part of it is undergoing conservation and will be returned once building work is near completion). The roof of this room, which will be transformed into a fantastic sports hall, has now been insulated, felt and battened. The beautiful Welsh and Yorkshire slates are now being set out on the ground ready for fixing. The timber frame to the pool roof lantern is now complete and work on the glazing has begun.

Tiles that will be preserved.

Tiles that will be preserved.

The room that will house the cinema screen.

The room that will house the cinema screen.

The enormous boiler has now been removed from site and the boiler house entrance wall is now being re-built. The room that will house a cinema screen has been opened out. The lovely original bath tiles will make these areas unique.

This room used to house the HUGE boiler.

This room used to house the HUGE boiler.

The most exciting part of the tour was a trip to the roof! With a little help I ascended the ladder! The flat roof has now been stripped and swept of existing perished asphalt, ready for new insulation. The huge chimney that used to puff out smoke from the coal that heated the water has had a lot of structural work. The brickwork has been re-pointed and washed down and the chimney top has been covered with a concrete cap. The chimney scaffold was due to be dropped but unfortunately due to theft of the new lightning protection system, this has been delayed.

Up the ladder I go!

Up the ladder I go!

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The Cupola base.

The Cupola, which you may all be missing, has been removed to Ironbridge for conservation repair. Brickwork to the base of the main cupola has been taken down and completely re-built. The environmental clean and scaffold to the missing Cupola no.2 base has now been completed with a structural inspection taking place soon.20141204_180137_resized20141204_180304_resized

Our tour finished with a hot cup of tea and a mince pie (mini sized for me, obviously). All that is left is for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and maybe you’ll see me in another exciting Birmingham attraction in the new year!

 

Raising the Roof!

Update of this months progress for the Community:

View of Cadbury's from Stirchley Baths roof.

View of Cadbury’s from Stirchley Baths roof.

With the combination of an extremely wet October and the discovery of a few further structural set backs; October has been a challenging month for Balfour Beatty project team. However with the building now stripped back to its raw structure and a new programme been put in place; real progress is starting to be shown.

This month:

View of Birmingham from the chimney.

View of Birmingham from the chimney.

– All internal areas now propped ready for existing structural steels to be replaced with new.

You may have been wondering where the Cupola has disappeared to.

You may have been wondering where the Cupola has disappeared to.

– The Chimney has been completely re-pointed, had a brand new lightning protection system installed and is now awaiting a concrete cap.

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- The iconic Cupola and flag pole has now been dismantled, lifted off via the crane and taken away for refurbishment
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– The brickwork either side of the cupola has now had structural ties installed and been re-built back up to coping stone level.
View of the new pool roof.

View of the new pool roof.

– All timber roof purlins and rafters have now been replaced with new.

New rooms formed inside.

New rooms formed inside.

Next month we will be:
– Breaking out the existing floor slab and creating new internal foundations ready for blockwork walls to be erected.
– Felt, batten and re-tile the main pool roof with existing Blue Welsh Slates and Green Westmorland Slates.
– Install all new structural steels to basement and ground floor.
– Start stripping and relaying the flat roof area.
– Install new truss roof along curved frontage.
– Wash down chimney brickwork, install cap and drop chimney scaffold.

Building for Future Generations

Jack Carey; co-site manager.

Here’s an update from Jack Carey; newly appointed co-site manager on the build:

“September has been a month of change on Balfour Beattys refurbishment of Stirchley Baths; after 47 years of service to the construction industry, Site Manager Steve Marsh finally has decided to step down and take his retirement. Steve set up and started this project back in February 2014 and has managed it up until now; I’d like to wish Steve all the best in his retirement and thank him for his efforts and invaluable service to our company. Moving forward I’d like to introduce you to our new site team; Site Manager Tony Fisher and myself, Site Manager Jack Carey. Having both come from Carpentry backgrounds we are both extremely excited to be working on a building with such heritage, character and will relish this opportunity. It is our goal to bring this building back to life and make it what it once was; the heart of the Stirchley community.”

Construction activities taking place this month has mainly been structural; due to the building being unused and un-maintained for so long water had penetrated in many places causing brickwork to move materials to decay. At present we are:

        – Demolishing internal walls to create new more open areas
        – Installing new structural steels in the basement
        – Installing new doorways, openings and lintels internally
        – Chasing out all external brick joints ready for re-pointing
        – Re-building and refurbishing the parapet wall and decorative stone frontage
        – Installing a new timber roof over the main pool

It is imperative that we get these structural works right to ensure that the building will last for future generations to enjoy.”

 

Erased from History?

The lost sign: Harold Lea Shoe Repais'

The lost sign: ‘Harold Lea Shoe Repairs’

On Bournville Lane, opposite Lea House Road is a house that once held the shoe repair business of Harold Lea. Sadly this old shop sign has recently been sanded and painted over. From sharing this photograph on twitter I was able to learn from Mr. Lea’s grandaughter that he had two further shops. Another shoe repair business at 29 Maryvale Road and a drapers in the building that is now St Mary’s hospice shop on Raddlebarn Road.

Harold Lea's shop at 29 Maryvale Road.

Harold Lea’s shop at 29 Maryvale Road.

His business was listed in the 1939 telephone directory. And he operated out of his premises on Maryvale Road between 1930 and 1971.

1939 Telephone Directory entry.

1939 Telephone Directory entry.

Do you remember Harold Lea’s shops? Do you have memories to share?

 

Stirchley baths Time Capsule

Below is a video of the opening of a time capsule that was buried at the old Stirchley community centre, the building  was closed down last year. (2013)

Jess Allen is taking the video and Brenda Thomas, Sandra Cooper and Peter Walker, are giving us a description of its contents.

The Capsule was buried in the old community centre in 1989 and judging by some of the contents wasn’t expected to be discovered for at least another 25 years.

The time capsule will be buried in the new community centre which will be part of the Stirchley baths development, it  will possibly include  this video and other memorabilia from present times.