Last week I was at Stirchley Community Centre on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and spoke to many of the parents who bring their children to Arabic lessons about the Stirchley Baths Project.
Mohammed spoke to me about swimming during his days at Dame Elizabeth Cadbury’s and his aspirations to enjoy the building again with his family. –
We gathered some great ideas from both parents and their children about the sorts of events that they might enjoy together; having fun and learning about the history of the Baths at the same time. These included quizzes and ‘spot the historic feature’ treasure hunts around the building. For the older generation, talks would be welcome, with Bengali interpretors on hand. Women only activities were also suggested as a way to involve the local Muslim community in the centre’s programming.
I also had a great chat with Margaret and Joe from Birmingham Karate Club who see the future move to the Baths as a great opportunity to recruit new members to the club and widen their audience further. They have been running the club from Stirchley Community Centre for 6-7 years. Here is a brief history of how the club has grown in the area, and the mix of excitement and apprehension they feel towards the transition from the Community Centre to the Baths.
Brenda Hawksford used to bathe at Stirchley Baths.
“We were grateful for it,” she says. “There was no hot water in our house and it was a lot easier using the baths at Stirchley than getting the tin one out at home and heating the water up for that. Much easier.”
As you’re hopefully aware by now, the vision for Stirchley Baths is to transform the building into a community hub with meeting rooms, community spaces, hall, cinema and more (you can have a look at the plans – which were granted planning permission last week – HERE).
The term ‘community hub’, however, is only a working title and doesn’t say anything about the building’s heritage or history.
So what should it be called when – if the Heritage Lottery Fund bid is successful – the new facility opens in October/November 2014?
We posed this very question on Twitter and Facebook recently and got these ideas:
Stirchley Baths Centre (@edsmyth76 on Twitter)
Community Life Centre (@Clueless_Morgan)
Stirchley Community Centre (@Stirchleyonline)
The Plug (!) – from Graeme Rose on Facebook
Someone on Twitter suggested – in the spirit of positivity and with a nod to the building’s aquatic heritage – The Half Full!
What do you think the community hub should be called?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, pop it on our Facebook page here or tell us on Twitter using @stirchleybaths or #stirchleybaths. Or you can leave a comment on the website too.
Jean Wyatt went dancing at Stirchley Baths in the 1950s when the swimming pool was covered with boards – a great example of the building’s multiple uses in its history.
“You couldn’t believe you were dancing on top of all that water,” she says.
Thanks to Jean for sharing her childhood memories of learning to swim at Stirchley Baths in the 1950s.
The interview is in two separate Audioboos, so make sure you listen to both!