Stirchley Baths has led something of a double life. Since 2016 it has operated as a lively community hub, but the building is full of reminders of its former years as a public swimming baths and wash house. Our heritage tours take you back to 1911 and earlier when the Baths were built to serve a fast-growing local community. There’s also an opportunity to go into the former pool and the tunnels – the only time when this is possible.
Love at the Baths was inspired by the large photograph in the reception corridor which shows a dance taking place on the boarded-over pool during the war years. It made Lois Murray, who leads the Stirchley Pop-Up Choir, wonder about romances that might have begun at those events. Her researches and musical knowledge led to the concert on Saturday 16 February with love as its theme. Audience guests included Gerald and Jean Lyndon who remembered those dancing years, and Alan Jones, son of bandleader Den whose music kept those feet dancing all those years ago.
While narrator Clare Fleck brought the history of Stirchley Baths – and some thoughts about love – to life through her readings, the music of the era was brilliantly performed by singer Lois and piano accompanist Trevor Hughes. Cole Porter’s “Let’s Misbehave” provided a commentary on the introduction of mixed bathing in 1927! The music of Irving Berlin, Glenn Miller and – in the second half – George Gershwin evoked the spirit of the age. If the beautifully-restored Edwardian era Stirchley Baths could speak, surely these are the kinds of things it would want to say.
All the profits from the performance went to the Memory Café which helps people with memory loss to reconnect with their past and enjoy the present. Thank you Lois, Trevor and Clare for helping us all to do that through this performance.
Do you, or a member of your family, have memories of living in Stirchley in days gone by? We’d love to meet you! Pop in to meet members of Stirchley History Group at the Baths on Saturday 25 March; chatter about the past, share your personal stories about the area, bring in your memorabilia, and enjoy a trip down memory lane over a cuppa.
Copies are available (while stocks last) from Stirchley Baths (closed from 19 December), P Cafe (closed from 22 December) and the Co-Op. More leaflets will be available from the New Year, but why not grab yours quick to enjoy over the Christmas break.
The Dancing Mat, a commissioned artwork for the Stirchley Baths Heritage Programme, is nearing its launch with an event ‘Stirchley Dances’, on Saturday 25th June 1 – 4pm. This is a free event open to all, celebrating the heritage and current day dancing in Stirchley. John and Eileen Horlick from the Stirchley Tea Dance Group who worked with me to record steps from dances that would have been danced at Stirchley Baths in the 1940’s will officially open the dancing mat at 1pm in the foyer. After this there will be dancing in the main hall by the Tea Dance Group, Swing Express and Barn Dance Fitness, the latter two who hold weekly classes at Stirchley Baths. You can either come along and enjoy watching the dancing or join in. It doesn’t matter whether you are a complete novice, enthusiast or highly experienced – this is a celebration of all things in Stirchley.