After asking local people and stakeholders to help in the decision making process to choose the official name of the new centre, it has been decided that the new name will be STIRCHLEY BATHS.
Importantly the name is both a nod to the building’s heritage and where it is, but is also a title that many in the community have already been using over the last couple of years when talking about the building transforming from dereliction in to a fantastic new community building.
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.
On Thursday 2nd July I met with Sue Ford from St Andrews. St Andrew’s is a Methodist Church on the corner of Pershore Road & Cartland Road. The present building is early 1980s, but there has been a Methodist Church on this site for much longer, which locals affectionately called the old ‘tin taberbacle’.
Methodism has a history of taking action for social justice, advocating on behalf of the most vulnerable in society. The people of St Andrew’s are very actively involved in this, with many working in caring professions – including nursing, teaching, children’s services, environmental and community-focused work. The church also supports organisations like Citizens UK Birmingham, B30 Foodbank and charities such as Action for Children.
Running for almost twenty years, St Andrew’s Community Project worked with Stirchley residents to set up amongst others: a community newspaper called Snooze, developed Stirchley Carnival, campaigned for the building of the old community centre, ran toddlers group and summer holiday playschemes. In 1989 in recognition of the opening of the Community Centre St Andrews created the Time Capsule!
Sue Ford was instrumental in those early years of Stirchley Community Centre. Sue has lived in Stirchley for most of her life. Her parents married during the Second World War and she and her siblings grew up at 1227 Pershore Road; above what was then her uncle’s tailor shop. She remembers the Co-op Christmas grotto as the best in Birmingham. For our meeting Sue brought along the newspaper cutting of when the 1989 time capsule was created.
Sue ran the first play group at what was then the new Community Centre. She also ran Stirchley Opportunity Group, which was made up of at least 50% of children who had a disability- the first of its kind in the city. The Stay and Play toddler group is currently back at St Andrews, awaiting the opening of Stirchley Baths community centre.
Sue was delighted to revisit all the objects St Andrews gathered for the 1989 time capsule, including newspapers commemorating Birmingham’s centenary, a red nose from only the second ever Comic Relief and photos of St Andrews members. One such photograph shows children from St Andrews Playscheme. We would like to recreate this photograph for the new time capsule for Stirchley Baths. If you are in the photo or know those who are please get in touch.
Another Sue who is also a member of St Andrews is Sue Ball. She was the first ever Community Worker and editor of ‘Snooze’. There is a copy of ‘Snooze’ in the 1989 time capsule and you can view the digital archive here.
St Andrews have recently joined twitter and look forward to connecting with local people on-line @standrewsb30
Both the 1989 and 2015 time capsule will be placed under the pool and will be visible through a Perspex window.
If you would like to suggest an item to go into the new 2015 time capsule pop into Stirchley Library between 10am & 1pm on Saturday 11th July. Alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you interested in getting involved in heritage activity for the Stirchley Baths project?Come along to this informal drop-in meeting where you can find out more information about the rewarding volunteer opportunities available, the skills building programme and social events that will be on offer. There are numerous ways to get involved regardless of experience and you will pay an important role in the long term success of the baths.
The evening will also be an informal opportunity to learn more about how you can use social media to support your own community or voluntary activity. Digital experts will be on hand to answer any questions you might have.
MONDAY 14TH APRIL 2014 STIRCHLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH HAZELWELL STREET, STIRCHLEY B30 2JX STARTING AT 7.30PM SPECIAL GUESTS RYAN HOLLINGS FROM HEALTH EXCHANGE TOM HOLNESS FROM BIKE RIGHT PLUS YOU’RE LOCAL COUNCILLORS COME & GET UP TO DATE ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN STIRCHLEY (HELP TO SHAPE A BETTER STIRCHLEY)