During the last five weeks I have been working with members of the community to assemble a Stirchley history group. The creation of the group, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery fund is for the benefit and lasting legacy of the Stirchley Baths project. After a call out on social media and presenting at Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum, a group of us met at P Cafe.
The initial task is for the group to produce an illustrated leaflet about the historic importance of the Baths. The leaflet will include a general introduction to Stirchley history, the history of the Baths, opening times, contact information, facilities and room hire info. This content will also be used on Stirchley Baths website.
During the first meeting the Baths leaflet was explained to the group. Some members were happy to carry out research relating to information for the leaflet, while others simply wanted to talk about Stirchley history. The one thing everybody had in common was a passion for local history, community and telling the story of Stirchley.
Our second meeting took place in Stirchley Library just over a week ago. The library was chosen because it houses the local history section and copies of the original 1910 architect plans for the Baths (it also has two of the friendliest and helpful Librarians around- Denise and David).
During this second meeting members talked about the era they had been researching. Although not all the information will go into the leaflet it was important to lay sturdy foundations. Some members are looking into early Stirchley, including the middle ages; other are investigating a pre-Cadbury Stirchley, which relied upon industry, such as the mills along the Rea. The offering of the land, opening and running of the Baths is another era covered by a member; as is a history of public baths in general. Another member has accrued thousands of old Stirchley photographs which we are going to sort through as possible images for the leaflet. And one member is in the process of writing a brief biography of his father, Den Jones, who played with his orchestra at the Baths in the forties/fifties. As a group we decided to do a call out on social media and at a stall at September’s Late Summer Bash for people who worked or learnt to swim at the Baths. We’re hoping to bring together people who gained their swimming badges.
There were a few surprises during the meeting including Alison’s discovery of a public baths photograph. We’re not sure if it is Stirchley Baths, but we’re hoping somebody will recognise those in the photo.
The other surprise was Nigel’s reveal of the original ceremonial plaque. The plaque had been removed from the exterior of the building some 25 years previously by a concerned resident, when the building was unused and in disrepair. It was handed to Nigel a few years ago when the Baths campaign began. The plaque will return to the Baths once the restoration is complete.
The next meeting of the History Group will take place at Stirchley Library between 5 and 6.45pm on Thursday 6th of August. If you would like to join, please pop by. Not everybody in the group has chosen to carry out research, but everyone is supportive of the Baths project and enthusiastic about Stirchley history.
Future Stirchley History Group projects may include developing history tours of the Baths and a heritage trail of Stirchley.
If you are interested in contributing but are unable to attend contact me (Louise) at firstname.lastname@example.org