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.