Category: Stories of the baths

Animating the History of Stirchley Baths

During October half term we welcomed back film maker Scott Johnson to run some more film challenges as part of the Heritage Programme here at the Baths. This time we opened the opportunity up to a younger age group too, and worked with children aged between 6 and 16 to create two animated films which depict the history of two periods in the Baths’ history timeline; setting the scene for their construction and opening (1903-1911) and the war years (1939-45).

Scott showed us films from the the early days of shadow puppet animation back in the 1920s; looking at how the first animations were made, and Suzanne briefed them on the history of the Baths. Inspired and understanding the challenge they had been set, our young participants then started to develop characters, plots and narrative in order to tell the story. This was followed by a few creative hours cutting out the shadows and backgrounds for the scenes.  Then the stop motion animating began…

Here is a gallery of pictures…

Some facts!

There were:

  • 119 cut outs
  • 1564 pictures taken
  • 68 hands removed (from pictures taken!)
  • 20 animators and 3 helpers

The challenge was then thrown into Scott’s court with two days to edit the films, add the sound effects and recorded narration ready to premiere at our red carpet celebration event on the Friday evening. It was great to see most of our participants and their families enjoying the popcorn, movie and Q & A session with the young animators.

We hope you also enjoy the results!


A few reviews…

  • Incredible work in such a short time! It was lovely seeing the cut outs of the scenes after. Brings the history of the building to life.
  • Great film, very enjoyable. Good to see the kids getting some creative time.
  • 5/5 wins best animation film!
  • FABULOUS!!! It’s obvious that a lot of hard work and creativity went into this production. Very proud.
  • It was fun. 100/100
  • It was amazing. I really enjoyed it. (Gracie, aged 11)
  • I loved it! (Ramsey, aged 6)
  • What a brilliant project. The kids loved it and learnt new skills and we all learnt loads about the history of the baths! More please! (and for grown ups)
  • Brilliant workshop, film premiere, well done everyone!

The adults want to know when they can have a turn!

Another gallery of pictures, this time of the evening…

Thank you to Scott for superb facilitation and working his ‘movie magic’ with the films, and to everyone involved in the sessions; especially to volunteers Esther and Alex who supported the workshops.


Don’t just watch movies. Make movies. Summer Film School for 11-19 year olds

SB Summer Film School A3 Poster with HLF logo 960



Are you, or someone you know, aged between 11 and 19, live locally to Stirchley Baths, and fancy learning how to make a short movie over the summer holidays?

Whether you are a budding filmmaker, or a complete novice, we have got a fantastic opportunity for young people to take part in our first ever Summer Film School at Stirchley Baths. There are 40 places available to work with filmmaker Scott Johnson on two-day film challenges. There are two challenges for each age group; 11-14 and 15-19. Places will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis, so read on to find out more information, and then get in touch! 

What are Film Challenges?

  • Creating a short film together, from idea to script to filming. There will be a maximum of 10 young people participating in each film challenge.
  • Everyone can try out different roles on the crew.
  • We want to help you make YOUR stories, and also stories which use local history / the history of Stirchley Baths as starting point.
  • All filming will take place in and around Stirchley Baths.

How much does it cost?

  • A very reasonable £5 per participant for the two-day workshop. (This includes the ‘Setting the Challenge’ session and the film screening celebration event).
  • The project is heavily subsidised by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Heritage Activity Programme.

What is the ‘Setting the Challenge’ session all about?

  • This session will be a chance for the young people and their parents to meet the filmmaker and Stirchley Baths team who will be running the workshops. It’s also a great chance for the young people to meet each other.
  • It will include a tour of Stirchley Baths so you can learn more about the building and its history which we hope will start ideas flowing!
  • We’ll screen some short films that have been made by young people with the filmmaker on previous projects to give you an idea of what the outcome might look like.
  • If you can’t make this session, but are booked onto a film challenge – don’t worry too much; you can still take part!

Who can take part?

  • We have two age groups for our Summer Film School: age 11-14 and age 15-19.
  • The Film School is targeted primarily at young people local to Stirchley Baths and in the Selly Oak District.
  • The film challenges are open to all abilities. You may be a budding filmmaker or want to have a go at something completely new. There will be an emphasis on team working.

What do I do to book a place?

  1. Ring or text Suzanne 07793 075737 or email to check there are spaces available.
  2. If places are available, please download the Registration & Booking Form, which includes some Rules of Engagement. You can also pick up these in person at Stirchley Baths (reception). There are two different forms:
    1. Under 16s – these require parental/guardian consent. Registration & Booking form_under 16s_inc. Rules of Engagement
    2. Over 16s. These do not require parental/guardian consent, but you are responsible for telling them. Registration & Booking Form_Over 16s_inc. Rules of Engagement
    3. Get the completed form back to Suzanne as soon as possible to confirm your place. You will need to bring your £5 participant’s fee too. Places will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. If you are available for more than one session for your age group please give us a first and second choice.
    4. We will confirm which dates you have been allocated with as much notice as possible.

Who is running the workshops?

  • Scott Johnson is a filmmaker, visual artist and musician with over 15 years experience in both the UK film and music industries. He has also been facilitating filmmaking with young people for the past 8 years. Scott works across a number of media creating short films, music videos, multi-media installations and music. He has been commissioned internationally, including by Ikon Gallery, BBC Television, Flatpack Festival, Sonar, Edinburgh Film Festival, Domino Records, Capsule and Experimenta Festival. Check out Scott’s work here:
  • Suzanne Carter is currently delivering the Heritage Programme at Stirchley Baths and will be there to support the workshops. She knows a fair bit about the history of the place, so you can ask her questions! She has also done a lot of work with schools and young people in the past. if you want to find out more about Suzanne please see her

What do I need to bring to the two-day challenge?

  • A packed lunch.
  • Ideas, creativity, enthusiasm, and a willingness to work as part of a team.
  • Appropriate clothing and shoes for possible outdoor filming (and sun cream/hat if the summer decides to show its face!)

What does Stirchley Baths provide?

  • All filmmaking equipment.
  • Tuition with a professional filmmaker – Scott Johnson (DBS checked).
  • Support from Suzanne Carter who works at the Baths (DBS checked).
  • A safe room to leave your belongings.
  • Drinks and snacks.
  • An incredible venue and an fantastic opportunity to learn new skills.
  • Popcorn and drinks at the Film Screening event for you, your friends and family at the end of the workshops on 13 August.

How do we celebrate all our achievements and watch the films we make?

  • On Sat 13 August we will host an open event for friends, family and interested local supporters of the Baths. We’ll provide the popcorn and refreshments!
  • We’d like the young people to be involved in running and organising the event.
  • On the booking form we will ask you have many tickets you want (max. 4 per participant) and we’ll confirm times with tickets nearer the time (there may be two events if lots of guests).
  • A certificate of attendance for the film challenges if you would like one and link to the film you have made.

Want to talk this through with someone?

Contact Suzanne Carter on 07793 075737 for a chat, or email

Who taught you to swim? Heather Clarke and Stirchley Baths 1975 – 1976

Heather Clarke visited the refurbished building recently. She first worked here in 1975 and went on to teach generations of children to swim at various pools – including Tiverton Pool.

Below is a video of heather and some photos from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Do you remember Heather? Did she teach you to swim?

Heather in 1981, photo taken by Paul Jones
Heather in 1981, photo taken by Paul Jones


Winni Shaw inside the ticket booth – photo taken in March 1988 by Paul Jones
A photo of the ticket booth – taken in Match 1988. Not sure who the person in the booth is. It isn’t Kathy Fracoviac, who Heather mentions in her video.
A black and white photo of a group of people seated in rows.
This is what Heather said of this picture. “l recognise them all but not everyone’s name, At the top man wearing glasses was George Rawlings ( Supervisor) l think next to him was Alan Wallings other two not sure, Below wearing the glasses lifegaurd Pat Byfield, and Joan Butters ( Area Supervisor )
not sure of others names
Bottom row David Teale (Area Supervisor ) myself and Paul Jones7
The event for this photograph was our lnterdivisional Swimming Gala between all of the Baths in Birmingham There were 3 Divisions all competeing against each other”



Jenny learned to swim at Stirchley Baths after nearly drowning in Spain

Jenny Barnwell

Jenny Barnwell was taken to Stirchley Baths as a five-year-old by her parents as soon as they arrived back in Britain from a holiday in Spain.

Jenny had been paddling in the Costa del Sol sea when she was sucked into the ocean by a wave. Luckily, she was “spat back out again” but the terrifying experience made her parents enrol her for swimming lessons.

Jenny wrote this on her hand to support the Stirchley Baths community hub project: “I learned to swim here in 1960 after a close shave – I nearly drowned in the sea at Costa del Sol.”