Specular Reflecular by Juneau Projects is coming to the Gala Pool this March (see here for more info), celebrating the newly-restored Gala Pool space with an animation created with local people. To mark the occasion, Moseley Road Baths CIO are exploring what the baths means to our local community. We start with long-time swimmer and passionate advocate for the baths, Janet Moir.
We are blessed to have many long-term swimmers here at Moseley Road Baths. Our patrons have supported us, long before there was any risk of closer; some swim, some campaign and some donate their time as volunteers.
Today we hear from one of our lovely patrons, Janet Moir, a woman who has swam here at Moseley Road Baths for more than 30 years. Janet’s passion for swimming is an excellent example of why we do what we do everyday to keep Moseley Road Baths operational.
Although our interview was brief, Janet spoke of many lost and forgotten places in and around Birmingham that she had swam in, most now no longer exist, this makes the fact that we are here, still standing and serving our community even more remarkable.
How did you find out about the baths?
When I moved to Moseley it was the local baths. So I just started that way.
What type of swimmer are you?
I’ve been a long distance swimmer in the past, I learned to swim in Sutton Park when I was a child, actually in Keepers Pool (swimming in Keeper’s Pool Sutton Park itself (the lake) was made illegal in April 1979) I don’t think you can swim in it anymore.
Where did you learn to swim?
I learnt to swim at Erdington swimming pool, which is also now closed. I also used to go to Stechford (Stechford Lido (1964 to 1991),
At the time Stechford was a brand new swimming pool and it was seen as Birmingham’s answer to an Olympic sized swimming facility. To go to Stechford, ah that was a real treat.
What was the best thing about swimming at Mosley Road baths?
My kids used to swim here and they learnt to swim here actually
Did swimming in the Gala pool improve your swimming?
Swimming and cycling have always been my sports. When it was still open, swimming in the Gala Pool was never a problem for me, it might be now! I don’t have anywhere I can do distance swimming anymore. I was brought up as a distant swimmer and cyclist.
How often did you swim at the Gala pool?
I came everyday, I used to work in Sparkbrook so I would go to Moseley Road Baths before going to work.
What do you think about the architecture of Moseley Road Baths?
Well it’s fantastic. It’s fantastic it’s still standing! It’s a wonder they did not knock this place down as all the surrounding houses are fairly new.
Is swimmer here your way of supporting the charity?
Absolutely, it’s easier for me to come swimming here and at the same time for me to support a local area I know very well.
Do you have any future hopes for the Gala Pool?
It would be really good if it were filled with water again! Given that most of the old pools in Birmingham have now closed, I think the fact that this still remains open…. it’s going to be a real showpiece.
In the past swimming at Woodcock Street (Opened 1926, a Gala Bath, Suites of Private Baths for Men and Women) was amazing but that’s now gone too.
What would be your message to anyone thinking of taking up swimming for the first time?
DO! The women’s sessions have been a big plus here, given some of the circumstances of the Muslim populations around here, the fact that Moseley Road Baths is getting new swimmers who are adults into the pool and who live locally, I would see that as I big, big plus!
Interviewed 15th January 2020
Janet continues to support Moseley road baths and has said she is ‘better protesting outside with banners rather then writing a letter’ for those of us at the baths who know Janet, we see how this determined, strong, and charismatic person doesn’t let obstacles get in her way of doing what she loves, swimming.
Come swim with us, take in this amazing building and enjoy the experience.
Links to archives of lost pools and Lidos in Birmingham