Moseley Road Baths

Moseley Road Baths, in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, has remained relatively unchanged since it was opened in 1907.  The impressive early Edwardian building is made of red brick and terracotta and houses two swimming pools, one of which is overlooked by an elegant gallery for spectators.  It operates the only public washing baths in the city.

Much loved by its very different users, the baths see a converging of cultures, philosophies and traditions.  In addition to the many recreational and serious swimmers, the baths are also used by a local Christian Church for group baptisms, OAP groups, a Yemeni boys club and 26 local schools.  The unique ability to vary the temperature of the water on site means that it provides the perfect facility for bathers with disabilities as the temperature can be adjusted according to their specific needs.  Members of the Asian community often use the original cubicles and baths, as these are particularly suited to ritual washing prior to going to the nearby Mosque.

I decided to photograph the baths after hearing that they were under threat of closure. Over a two-year period I documented the baths and its many users and, with an exhibition and the accompanying publicity it generated, helped raise support to save the pool from closing its doors. Although there has been a temporary reprieve, the future of the baths in their present form is still uncertain.