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Behind the scenes at Stirchley Baths for Heritage Week

Published: Monday, 5th September 2016

This Sunday 11 September, Stirchley Baths, a former Edwardian swimming baths and public wash house on Bournville Lane, opens its doors for this year’s Heritage Open Days and Birmingham Heritage Week.

The front of the refurbished Stirchley Baths
Stirchley Baths

It will also lift the hatches into the basement for the first time so visitors can explore the tunnels and go into the deep end of the pool, which is now boarded over.

Officially re-opened earlier this year after an award-winning restoration project, and 28 years since it closed to the public, Stirchley Baths is once again at the heart of the community. It is no longer a swimming pool, but a popular community hub. The ‘Splash Back in Time’ heritage open day will be a chance to show it off, above and below ground.

Karen Cheney, District Head for Selly Oak and Hall Green who project managed the refurbishment and has been running the city-council operated community facility for Birmingham City Council said:  “We thought we had put our hard hat days behind us, but as this is the first year the building has been open for the Heritage Open Day event we decided to take the plunge and embrace the ‘behind the scenes’ nature of the event, offering the public an opportunity to dip into the deep end of the pool and the well through the tunnel system.

“There are many excited local people who can’t wait to get back in the pool they swam in during the 1970s and 1980s.”

Suzanne Carter, who is organising the event added: “Above ground there will be lots of activities to help visitors explore and understand the building – family trails, tours and exhibitions, and crafts inspired by the patterns and shapes found in the walls. We would love to splash back in time with anyone who remembers taking a bath, having a sauna or even dancing at the Stirchley Ballroom in the 1940s and 50s – so bring your memories as well as sensible shoes if you want to explore the tunnels!”

Stirchley Baths will open 11am-4pm on Sunday 11 September. There is no need to book and it is absolutely free.

Other Birmingham Heritage Week events at Stirchley Baths include –

  • 4pm, Sunday 11 September – Author and historian Steve Beauchampé will give an  illustrated talk about the history of public swimming baths and wash-houses in Birmingham.
  • Friday 9 and Saturday 10 September – Meet Beryl as she takes you through a 45 min, fast-paced and hugely entertaining time-travelling experience through the Bath’s history. Beryl of the Baths is a specially commissioned storytelling session devised by Toni’s Drama Tots.

All details about Stirchley Bath’s Birmingham Heritage Week and Heritage Open Day events can be found by visiting www.stirchleybaths.org/events

 

Background information:

Birmingham Heritage Week showcases Birmingham’s social, cultural and industrial heritage. With over 90 coordinated events at heritage sites, museums, libraries and other venues across the city it takes place from Thursday 8 – Sunday 18 September 2016.

The event coincides with the UK’s largest heritage festival, Heritage Open Days, which runs from Thursday 8 – Sunday 11 September.  http://birminghamheritageweek.co.uk/

Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest festival of history and culture involving over 40,000 volunteers.  Every year over four days in September, thousands of events take place across the country inviting the public to explore local treasures of every age, style and function. It’s a chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all FREE.  www.heritagependays.org.uk

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