Moseley Road Baths’ Gala Pool conservation unveiled

Vital conservation work to the Grade II* listed Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham has recently been unveiled, with Historic England’s Louise Brennan describing the work as a ‘major step towards returning the extraordinary swimming baths to their former glory’.

The £700k project, funded by Historic England and Birmingham City Council was undertaken on behalf of the Moseley Road Baths Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). It consisted of complete re-roofing of the Gala Pool and conservation of its cast-iron structure, terracotta and glazed brickwork. Other aspects of the work included the development of emergency lighting and smoke detection system to allow the pool’s use as an events space for the CIO, bringing an essential community asset back to life. Insall has led this project from initial enabling works, through removal of asbestos right up to the final removal of the scaffold to reveal the historic roof. In parallel, a complete condition survey for the building was carried out, to inform future projects, working with the National Trust.

Insall also led a project at the Baths with Part II students from the Birmingham School of Architecture & Design, as part of an innovative module to develop skills in professional practice. The teams were tasked with developing proposals for the reuse of the Moseley Road Baths complex; considering appropriate uses, impact on historic significance, mechanical and engineering, structures, costs and phasing of construction work. The result was two fully illustrated and highly detailed feasibility studies. The students were supported in their work by the Moseley Road Baths project team, as well as Katriona Byrne of BCU’s Conservation of the Historic Environment course. Both studies will form part of an exhibition for future use of the Baths later in 2020.

Moseley Road Baths, originally opened in 1907, is one of only seven remaining Grade II* listed swimming baths in the country. The Baths were under threat of closure for many years, leading to the decline of the Gala Pool which eventually closed in 2003. As well as being included on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register since 2005, the building is also recognised by the World Monument Fund’s Watch List.