‘Finish Line Ahead’

On Thursday 9th of April members of the community were invited on a tour of Stirchley Baths. I was pleasantly surprised at how far the project has progressed since the last tour in December. And now you can really see the rooms forming.

The iconic view of the end wall of the pool.

The iconic view of the end wall of the pool.

The pool has now been covered (although there is a peep hole) and will be used as a multi-purpose hall.

The pool has now been covered (although there is a peep hole) and will be used as a multi-purpose hall.

The roof lanterns above the main hall.

The roof lanterns above the main hall.

These rooms will be used to store any equipment for groups that use the main hall. Some old changing rooms will be reinstalled on the balcony to reflect the building's history.

These rooms will be used to store any equipment for groups that use the main hall. Some old changing rooms will be reinstalled on the balcony to reflect the building’s history.

The tiles which will be restored as they are a unique original feature.

The tiles which will be restored as they are a unique original feature.

This will become the cinema room.

This will become the cinema room.

This room will become the cafe.

This room will become the cafe.

The cafe will be known as the Well Cafe after the original well.

The cafe will be known as the Well Cafe after the original well.

A bell/communication mechanism on the foyer hatch.

A bell/communication mechanism on the foyer hatch.

Original tiling in the foyer.

Original tiling in the foyer.

Underneath the cupola.

Underneath the cupola.

The view from on top of the roof.

The view from on top of the roof.

A roof lantern from the top of the roof.

A roof lantern from the top of the roof.

Cupola number 2, waiting to go up.

Cupola number 2, waiting to go up.

Here’s a message from the site managers about the plans for next month:

  • Building ‘water tight’ with flat roofs felted and windows installed
  •  Mezzanine floor completed with original balcony balustrade installed
  •  Cupola No.2 stonework complete with new cupola fixed
  •  Re-pointed external brickwork cleaned with scaffold elevations starting to be dropped
  •  Underfloor heating in pool area installed
  • Floor screed installed
  •  Plasterboarding to all areas
  •  2nd fix carpentry started

Co-site manager Jack told me that they are almost at the stage where floorboards can be laid in some of the newly created rooms.

Your community centre will open in September 2015 to co-incide with Stirchley Late Summer Bash.

“We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.” – Emmeline Pankhurst

Blue plaque for Julia Varley, trade unionist and suffragette  Hay Green lane, Bournville

Blue plaque for Julia Varley, trade unionist and Suffragette.
Hay Green Lane, Bournville.

International Women’s Day was born on the eve of World War I. Russian women, hoping for peace observed the first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. It was later transferred to 8th March and this day has remained the global date ever since.

In the late Victorian era, great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Oppression and inequality spurred women into inciting change. The campaign for Women’s rights in Birmingham began in 1866 with just three names on the very first ‘women’s suffrage’ petition.

Black Friday was a women’s suffrage event on 18 November 1910; the same year Stirchley Baths opened. The protest occurred when Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith indicated that there would be no more Parliamentary time for the reading of the Conciliation Bill. This bill would have extended the right of 1,000,000 wealthy, property-owning women to vote.

Approximately 300 women from Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) protested, with 200 assaulted and manhandled when they attempted to run past the police. This was the first documented use of police force against suffragettes. A total of 119 men and women were arrested.

Kings Norton Station fire 1914.

Kings Norton Station fire 1914.

On the night of 15 March 1914, Birmingham Suffragettes were responsible for a fire at Kings Norton Station. A number of railway coaches were set alight as an act of protest. Difficulty obtaining enough water resulted in fire damage totalling £1,000. A copy of ‘The Suffragist’ was found nearby.

Stirchley Library, Edwardian era.

Stirchley Library, Edwardian era.

This photograph of Stirchley Library highlights inequality in Edwardian society. Without full electoral rights, libraries offered opportunities for women to gain access to educational and learning resources. However, certain conditions were still applied, as indicated by the notice on the table.

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury

The first woman to stand as a candidate for King’s Norton’s (which Stirchley was then part of) was Elizabeth Cadbury in the 1923 General Election. She was a Liberal, living at Manor House, Northfield, and was a city councillor for Kings Norton from 1919 to 1924. In 1928, 60 years after Birmingham’s Suffrage campaign had been launched at the meeting in the Exchange Rooms, New Street, all women were given the vote on the same terms as men.

It is worth noting that the first female Birmingham MP was Mrs Edith Wills; elected as Labour member for Duddeston in 1945. Later followed by Mrs Edith Pitt (Conservative) elected for Edgbaston in 1953.

The UK Equal Pay Act did not come into force until 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

Do you have stories to share about Stirchley?

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Last night I spoke at Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum about the Bath’s project. People were keen to know how the restoration is progressing, so I shared old photographs and recent ones to show how much progress has been made.

In June 2014 the roof of the Baths looked like this:

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In January 2015 it looks like this:

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The roof lanterns will be fully finished by next month.

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And the internal scaffolding in the main hall where the pool is, has now been removed:

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I also spoke about this blog site. I want more people to blog. I want you to blog! 

This blog was created to share Stirchley residents’ passion for the community centre. It is also a place to share memories of Stirchley’s past and present day activities.

In March there will be opportunities to learn how to blog. Social surgeries will be organised (hopefully 3) to help people who’d like to share their stories. More details about when these sessions will happen will appear on Stirchley Baths Facebook page, Twitter @StirchleyBaths and via the Neighbourhood Forum.

It would be great to share old photos and memorabilia. If you have anything but don’t want to blog please get in touch if you’re happy for me to share them. Or bring them with you to the social surgeries in March.

A resident at the forum asked me about the floor plan for the community centre. Mark Sloane, the architect has kindly sent it to me. The first image is the most recent plan of the layout of the whole site. The second image is from early 2014, but shows in detail the intended uses of the rooms.

PM2585-111 Proposed Site Plan[1]

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The Baths project is about to get even more exciting. We want as many people as possible to be part of it.

My email address is louisedeakin96@aol.com or you can message me on here or Stirchley Baths on Facebook or Twitter (@stirchleybaths).

 

Who will run the new community centre?

 

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On Saturday a group met at Selly Oak District Office to discuss the future running of Stirchley Baths Community Centre. Amongst the group were specialists in Community Asset Transfers and prospective trustees.

In attendance:

Karen (Head of Selly Oak District), Jane (Birmingham Properties Services), Mark (Architect for the new community centre), Nick (Podnosh), Alison (Independent Consultant for community groups), Sunanda (local resident), Sue Jackson (Co-ordinator for Selly District), Katie (resident), Sue Jones (resident), Rosie (resident), Birgit (Change Kitchen), Paula (resident and former chair of Stirchley Community Group) and me.

Four residents were unable to attend and sent their apologies.

Community stakeholders and advisors.

Community stakeholders and advisors.

The purpose of the meeting was to make the role of the future trustees clear and explain how the Community Asset Transfer would work. The community centre is due to finish in August and Open to coincide with Stirchley Late Summer Bash in September 2015. £3,000,000 from Tesco has been provided from the sale of the old community centre and £1,500,000 from Heritage Lottery Fund, on the condition there will be a Heritage Officer appointed for 3 years to provide interpretation and community activities.

Plans by the architect.

Plans by the architect.

Re-produced original plans from C.1910.

Re-produced original plans from C.1910.

Mark, the project architect talked about how the restoration is progressing. For the benefit of some attendees who haven’t visited the building he provided photographs showing progress.

Disrepair.

Disrepair.

Structural decay pre-restoration.

Structural decay pre-restoration.

Problem areas pre-restoration.

Problem areas pre-restoration.

We discussed the layout and the updated plan for improved access to the carpark. The carpark will back onto Stirchley Park and approximately £40k from the demolition of the bowling green is being used for improvement work on the park. Once the community centre opens it will share a special relationship with the park as they will naturally work together. Further talks about the layout of the community centre explained there’ll be a kitchen area, cafe, main hall (where the pool will be covered), a cinema room and several multi-use rooms. These have been designed for hire with 15-20 people being able to use a medium sized room. These will provide revenue for the community centre, making it more sustainable.  Disabled access will be through the rear entrance, near the green area and will lead straight into the cafe.

Repair progressing on the roof, November 2014.

Repair progressing on the roof, November 2014.

Mark said the iconic cupola is due to be reinstated soon. It had gone to Ironbridge for restoration work. The original plans of the building showed that there was once a second cupola and clock. Both of these will be added to the building. There will be a meeting with the clock manufacturer in a few weeks regarding the style of the clock. Although the building was in quite a poor state at the start of restoration, some beams, such as the one in the room that used to house slipper baths has been repaired off-site and will be reinstated. Half of the roof has been salvaged and matching welsh slates have completed this area now. The glass lantern, which will provide much needed light to a building with few windows has been finished and painting has begun.

Roof lantern, January 2015.

Roof lantern, January 2015.

Roof lantern being painted, January 2015.

Roof lantern being painted, January 2015.

Karen explained that the community centre will be like a mini MAC for the area and it will have a similar feel to St Nicholas Place in Kings Norton. Stirchley as an area has a lot of ‘social capital’ because there are lots of creative groups, such as Stirchley Happenings and S.U.R.N who network to improve the area. The Community Asset Transfer means that Birmingham City Council will set up the operational aspects of the building and run it from September 2015 to March 2016. It will be at that point that the trustees who have been appointed take over. To enable this, people such as Alison and Jane will work with the group to write a business plan. The lease will be 25 years and to be successful the group will need to be interviewed to ensure they are capable of the role. The group will be advised to register themselves as a charity as this cuts rates by 80%. Although the independent advice they receive will require payment, the district have funds available from ‘community scaffolding’ and fundraising will take place. The centre is not intended as a sports location but groups such as badminton, yoga, karate and fencing will be welcome. It is also hoped that a significant number of groups who used the old community centre will use the new one.

The main question is whether this group want to run the building. Although there are other community stakeholders, such as the Neighbourhood Forum and Friends of Stirchley Park that want to support future trustees and the project, the group must be certain that they are happy to proceed.

The roof, January 2015.

The roof, January 2015.

Birgit Kehrer who runs Change Kitchen provided us with a yummy lunch while Nick Booth from Podnosh introduced the group to Stirchley Baths blog. He talked about how it was set up to demonstrate community support for the Heritage Lottery Fund bid. I explained how I started contributing to the blog a year ago after attending a social media surgery hosted at Loaf. The blog (and Facebook and Twitter accounts) are intended to keep people interested in the project while the restoration is taking place. Anything Stirchley related can be blogged about. I talked about how I want more people to contribute blogs, to share more Stirchley stories. If you have anything you’d like to write about, be it Stirchley’s past or things happening today it’d be great to share them on the blog. Nick will be hosting another social media surgery in March to help anyone that would like to learn how to blog and use Facebook and Twitter. If you have any old photos of Stirchley- a funday, street party, opening of a shop- anything at all that you’d be happy for me to share on the blog please get in touch.

One of the many history boards telling the story of Stirchley village.

One of the many history boards telling the story of Stirchley village.

It was agreed that the group will meet in the next few days independently to discuss whether they want to be trustees. A decision will be needed in the next four weeks.

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!