Archives for category: Recreation

TUESDAY 13 MARCH from 6.00p.m at Locanta restaurant, Ludgate Hill, St Paul’s Square B3 1EH

All welcome

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Enemy of the People?

Did your grandmother use phrases such as ‘Make do and mend’; or ‘waste not want not’?   In which case she was clearly an enemy of the people.  Why?  To quote Peter York FRSA, “this language is fundamentally anti-growth.   We all know that our future depends on us consuming like mad.  The engine of our economy is property prices and footfall in Next and M&S”. 

Yet on Tuesday our guest, Woody, (Planet Centred Forum), is proposing a 25% reduction in our CONSUMPTION as a counter balance to global population growth.

Woody’s “Population Equivalent” thesis weighs consumption against numbers.  He calculates that 25% of ‘Western’ consumption equates to the global average consumption of 3 billion people.

The thorny issue of population control is dealt with by comparing the environmental impact of different levels of CONSUMPTION rather than focussing simply on numbers.

All very well, but what about the economy? Join us on Tuesday evening at Locanta to find out.

General information on the web page, then go to

You don’t have to have a meal in order to join in, but if you do, it helps us to have an idea of meal numbers in advance.  Erkan, provides an excellent menu, plenty of choice, including vegan and vegetarian dishes.  Dishes can be tailored to individual tastes








There is an important update about swimming timetables, lessons and prices from Karen Leach from the Moseley Road Baths Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which will be taking on the running of swimming facilities at the Baths from the start of April. 

Watch this space for further updates:

And Birmingham City Council has agreed (6 March) to grant the Moseley Road Baths Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), formed by Moseley Road Baths Action Group, a three-year licence to operate.

The council will retain responsibility for the maintenance of the building and the pool for three years and invest £100,000 in repair and maintenance over the next 12 months, in addition to the council grant of £100,000 to help with roof repairs agreed in June 2017.


Recruiting of volunteers for reception, cleaning and lifeguarding will start soon and everyone who has already shown interest is thanked and will be contacted shortly.

Karen ends: “Look forward to seeing you at the pool soon!”


For feedback or queries go to




The photography of Janet Mendelsohn
Presented in association with Flatpack Film Festival
10 March – 28 April 2018

In the late 1960s American filmmaker and photographer Janet Mendelsohn spent several months documenting the everyday life of Balsall Heath, as part of her studies at the University of Birmingham. These images are a vivid record of the community at a time of rapid change, and many of the streets depicted were demolished soon afterwards. The exhibition visually explores a social housing crisis, poverty, migration and the experience of childhood in the area.

Building on a brief pop-up exhibition in summer 2015, Ort Gallery now present a selection of these amazing images in the neighbourhood where they were taken. The exhibition will be supported by a resource room exploring some of the stories behind the pictures, and a programme of events and screenings culminating in the 12th Flatpack Film Festival.

To accompany the exhibition we will run a series of events such as group discussions, film screenings, a ghost walk and more! Find all info here and join the Facebook event to be kept up to date!

This exhibition is made possible with strategic investment by the Arts Council England and support from Arts & Science Festival. Special thanks to the Cadbury Research Library.

Ort Gallery
500-504 Moseley Road
Balsall Heath
B12 9AH

Open Tuesday to Saturday 12-5pm





The loss of Eastside Park (above) to HS2 , ‘more of a square than a park’, strengthens the case for greening Smithfield. Photograph: John Newson. 

John Newson points out that Birmingham Friends of the Earth earlier responded to the council’s 2011 Big City Plan, proposing that the open space on the Smithfield site should have should have functions of stalls/market space which could be combined with trees and some green space. He comments: “A park, in the sense of extensive grass and flower beds may not be achievable, given the intensity of pedestrian footfall, which is likely, and indeed desirable.  Eastside Park is more of a square than a park”.

The CityPark4Brum  2015 petition was followed by the council’s Smithfield Master plan (March 2016)  which may be downloaded here, with the August ’17 memorandum. There was a new consultation which included a proposal for a new park on one part of the site.

The petition, masterminded by James Tucker, now has over 5000 signatures and will be resubmitted to the council and the metro mayor. As he points out, “Birmingham does not have a large park in its city centre – a glaring omission for the UK’s second city. However, we currently have a unique opportunity to address this . . . Birmingham Smithfield is less than 5 minutes’ walk from New Street station and the Bullring, an ideal location for a green park that could truly transform our city’s landscape”.

He feels that the space allocated for this new park is too small – smaller than the Cathedral Green and  wedged in between other buildings adding: “ Therefore the CityPark4Brum campaign is continuing and is now into its third year”.

The artist’s impression

Though one correspondent concedes, “Green space is always nice” he continues: “it might well become repositories for litter and poorly disposed of dog poo bags. Probably best if fenced off and excluding humans”.

Steve Beauchampé expresses no such misgivings, writing firmly in the Birmingham Press: “Birmingham needs a city centre park, not the thin strip of tree-lined greensward offered in the Smithfield development”.

He found Birmingham City Council’s vision of a future mixed use of retail, residential, offices, eateries, a brace of public squares and some undefined cultural activities, ”all very predictable” and had replied by posting on the Press website that they should abandon the masterplan and simply lay out a park, one where you could walk a dog, kick a ball around, sit on a bench, enjoy an ice cream in a tearoom.

The CityPark4Brum has had some influence, with BCC agreeing to incorporate a grass and tree-lined corridor (linear park, illustrated below) into their revised masterplan although Beauchampé notes that the total amount of greenery promised still appears to be very modest – ‘a truncated boulevard’. He continues:

“Apart from the grounds of St Philip’s Cathedral, and St Paul’s on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter, there is almost no usable green space in or near Birmingham city centre. Taken as a whole Birmingham probably has more parks than Venice has canals, but the central core and its immediate surrounds – where the population is rapidly increasing (and will continue so to do) – remains bereft of anything resembling a park.

“One need look no further than Birmingham’s geographical neighbours to realise how notable Birmingham’s lack of a gloriously unstructured and unregulated, egalitarian central zone park is: Coventry, (War Memorial Park) Solihull (Tudor Grange, Brueton and Malvern Parks), Walsall (Arboretum), West Bromwich (Dartmouth Park) and Wolverhampton (West Park) all boast large parks on the periphery of their centres, easily walkable from their respective retail and civic hearts”.

Warning that in a year or two there may simply be no parcels of land available on which to develop a central park, he foresees future generations looking at:

  • a plethora of apartments that they will not be able to afford to rent,
  • hotels that they will never need to stay in
  • offices that they will probably never be needed to work in
  • and nowhere to walk their dogs, kick their footballs
  • or relax with their friends.

Beauchampé points out that national and even international perceptions still imagine Birmingham as the motor city, an unattractive urban sprawl, full of underpasses, flyovers and rain-soaked concrete, concluding:

“A well-designed city park or green space would change perceptions of Birmingham in a way that 25-30 additional 25-30-storey high new buildings never could . . . potentially as ‘impactful’ on the city as staging the Commonwealth Games or the arrival of HS2: a gift that truly would keep on giving, day after day, decade after decade. A place for relaxation, exercise, for cultural and communal experiences, where the city can celebrate and commemorate and which can be enjoyed without cost by rich and poor, young and old.”




A message from Councillor Mary Locke about city cycling has been forwarded by Peter Walker, Chairman of the Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum.

Would-be cyclists are being invited to apply for the latest free bike giveaway. In 2015 more than 3,500 people received an orange bike (above) and cycled over 300,000 miles which improved their mental health and wellbeing. This time the emphasis will be on encouraging families to cycle together.

2000 free Raleigh bikes are being offered to families and residents in the most deprived communities as part of the next phase of the Big Birmingham Bikes scheme. Part of Birmingham City Council’s Birmingham Cycle Revolution, Big Birmingham Bikes aims to encourage people of all backgrounds to cycle regularly by offering free bikes to those unable to afford them.

To see the Autumn / Winter Programme click on this link. There is information on Ride Active sessions and Led Rides, free of charge.

Read all about how to apply for a free bike here.

Bike banks – a children’s bike loan scheme (for under 16s) available throughout the city, targeting the most deprived areas: information here.

Copies of the brochure will be available shortly at the council’s Wellbeing Centres.


Birmingham Cycle Revolution is funded from various sources including City Council funds and successful bids to the Department for Transport and the Local Enterprise Partnerships.





Moseley Road Baths is one of the nation’s most significant heritage swimming pools – it is the oldest Grade II* Listed baths still open for public swimming. Last year nearly 80,000 people swam in this community pool.

The Baths were earmarked for closure last July but a community campaign and the support of heritage organisations led to Birmingham City Council granting a reprieve.

Next April Moseley Road Baths action group, who have formed a Community Interest Company (CIC), will take over the running of the baths from Council. The company’s business plan shows that MRBCIC can break even within three years but in the first year it needs to raise £75,000 to help to pay for essentials like staffing, heat, light and water. The company is seeking grant funding for some of this, but the group is also calling on support from anyone reading this appeal to add to this, helping us to meet two critical costs (swim trainers and lifeguard volunteers).

MRBCIC has nine months to develop a workable model for swimming, with the aim of taking over operational responsibility for water activity from April 2018. Since then it has been working hard – liaising with heritage partners, bringing in advisers, understanding the community swimming need and producing a business plan which shows that MRBCIC can break even within three years.  Click here to read the business plan.

Our initial target is to raise £13,552 to train 8 volunteers in lifeguarding and teaching as well as in customer service skills, health and safety, etc. Each volunteer must be trained so that  safe swimming can be offered at all times.  Crowdfunding is the first stage in raising the funds needed to ensure they have a fully trained team ready to go. Read more on their website.

Please spread the word – and if willing and able – donate by following the link.






A new venture in Stirchley calls families to enjoy ‘good, old-fashioned fun


Annaliese Griffin of America’s Quartz Media writes:

“I’m not saying that starting a board-game group in every town and village will put us all on the path to world peace. But in a society where the most common answer to the question “How many confidantes do you have?” is zero, it’s clear that a lot of people are hungry for connection and civilized conversation. Inviting the neighbors over for game night is a good place to start.”

A Childwise survey of 2000 children aged 5-16 in schools across the UK reported that children in all age groups are spending ever-longer periods online. The internet overtook television as the top media pastime for British children last year, according to the media regulator Ofcom. Children aged five to 15 are spending 15 hours a week online.

Following the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, government acted on Lord Laming’s advice and set up the office of children’s commissioner. It has four aims: one is headed ‘Digital’ (left)

In an interview with the Observer the commissioner, Anne Longfield, criticised the way social media giants draw children into spending more time and said that parents – though most are seen in public using their phones to chat of view – should stop their children from ‘bingeing’ on the internet.

Parents often don’t have a valued activity to offer in place of online activities

A paper published in Psychological Science, based on research into ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’ found that moderate use of devices by teenagers may be beneficial. Co-author Andrew Przybylski (University of Oxford) said: “It’s not so much that it’s bad for a kid to play Minecraft for 12 hours on a Sunday, it’s that as parents we often don’t have a valued activity that we put in place of that”.

Ben Parkinson, co-founder of the Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network, a charity, has just visited Gulu for its latest ‘boardgame extravaganza’ (Facebook picture). Gamechangers is a new project from Chrysalis born from its recent Village Boardgames Convention in Koro, Northern Uganda.

He writes: “Children from villages have been clamouring to play the games and, of course, there is no place for them to play or even buy boardgames, were they able to afford them.

However, we see a future time when boardgames will be more readily available in Uganda and believe that there is much change that can take place through giving access to a range of boardgames”.

Ben Parkinson comments: “Here the boardgames are less needed for social reasons, as Ugandans are very social people.  Where they score is on providing variety of entertainment and building confidence, though the kids also enjoy the social aspect.

Via Youtube visit Uganda to hear the young people talking about the games with brief shots of them playing – the prizes are school books.

In England a new profession is proliferating – community building; I met my first community builder last week and visited a community group in a Gloucestershire council estate which was clearly working well.  A search revealed five pages of items relating to England and thereafter many accounts of community building in other countries.

Will most of these efforts rebuild what has been lost in England?





Steve Beauchampé recalls the Cadbury Barn, a little known but once much-loved Birmingham building destroyed by fire last week.

There is some ambiguity surrounding the origins of the Cadbury Barn, burnt down in a suspected arson attack last week. Whilst the Birmingham Conservation Trust website states that it was erected in 1894 in the grounds of George Cadbury’s home at Northfield Manor House, set in Manor (formerly New House) Farm, the Bournville Works Magazine suggests otherwise (as does an 1893 Ordnance Survey map), indicating that the Barn, the work of company architect Alexander Harvey, was originally sited in Laurel Grove, where it was known as the Girls’ Gymnasium, and was relocated and re-assembled at Manor Farm in 1903 (a not uncommon practice, stands at both St Andrews and The Hawthorns were similarly relocated from their respective clubs’ earlier grounds around this time).

A wooden structure with a metal framework held in places by chains, and seating up to 700, the Barn became the focus of regular summer parties for Cadbury employees, their families and perhaps most famously poor children from throughout Birmingham and the Black Country. Speaking of these often joyous gatherings George Cadbury remarked: There could never be too many and they could never be too noisy. Children – up to fifty at a time – would be invited to swim in the nearby fish pond, girls before tea, boys after. The Barn was also used by Sunday School groups, the Mothers Union and members of Men’s and Women’s Adult Schools, as well as Scout Jamborees and Brownie Revels, with as many as 25,000 people using the facility each year. During the Second World War the Friends Ambulance Unit used the Barn as a training camp.

The Barn’s unusual rusticated timber detailing was a style seemingly specific to Cadbury’s with similar decoration also found on an original exposed section of the Cadbury Club (formerly the Girl’s Pavilion) on Bournville Lane. Its floor was tiled in red and grey terracotta with a single entrance at the rear (facing the main road) and a wider entrance and wide windows overlooking the park.

Following the death in 1951 of George’s wife, Dame Elizabeth Cadbury, the family donated Manor Farm and its buildings to the city of Birmingham with the Barn continuing to be used by park visitors and other groups.

In recent years the Barn had served as a storage facility for the Parks Department but had become semi-derelict and partially boarded up.

In 2014 Birmingham Conservation Trust, in conjunction with Bournville Village Trust and the Friends of Manor Farm Park, began drawing up plans for a restoration of the Barn as part of plans for a multi-use community space including a cafe and involving several adjacent buildings. Sadly, following the fire which destroyed the Barn on the night of July 31st, should those plans come to fruition, it will not be part of them. 


Steve Beauchampé

August 7th 2017




A volunteer with the project has drawn our attention to the visit of a group of teenagers from Chernobyl who will be welcomed to Solihull this summer for a four week recuperative holiday, organised by Chernobyl Children’s Project Solihull Group (CCP). This year’s hosting marks the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Youngsters aged between 13 and 15 from the CCP are in remission after treatment for brain tumours, leukemia, Hodgkins lymphoma, Wilm’s tumour, melanoma & neuroblastoma. They will travel from Belarus accompanied by a doctor and interpreters. While in the borough, fresh air and uncontaminated food will boost their damaged immune systems helping them to recover.

Each year a different group of children and accompanying adults are met at Manchester airport to stay for two weeks with host families and a further two weeks staying together in residential accommodation where local people volunteer to provide meals. Many trips and enjoyable activities have been planned for them. The children come from different areas and met for the first time recently at the Belarussian Embassy in Minsk, where they were granted visas to travel to the UK on the 29th July. They’ll be accompanied by interpreters Ira and Student Alina who will be returning to Solihull for a third time and this year they will be joined by first timer Doctor Tanya.

Last year they visited Barry Island

And Warwick Castle


This year CCP Solihull have received donations from many individuals, groups and companies; enabling us to bring the children to the UK. They have also held some successful fundraising events, including the recent Ladies Lunch which raised £2708. These gifts will not only bring the group to Solihull, but also improve the lives of disabled children and support cancer and hospice care in Belarus.

Anyone wishing to help with this year’s holiday, or wishing to make a donation, please contact Kath Ruane at 

Kath Ruane

Solihull Group Co-ordinator CCP (UK)








This upbeat article was omitted from the depressing daily e-alerts sent to the Murdoch-owned paper’s online subscribers, but – thanks to David Bailey’s retweeting – it will now reach others, including readers of the Brummie.

Bournville, one of the smallest parks

Jonathan Leake and Rhal Ssan report that, according to Ordnance Survey (OS), it is one of Britain’s greenest cities. The OS studied all publicly accessible green spaces, ranging from municipal golf courses, allotments and parks to the smallest playgrounds and found that green spaces cover 15.6% of the city, including 93 parks, 242 play areas and 18 golf courses.

Cannon Hill Park in Edgbaston

Birmingham (“Glum Brum? No”) has had a reputation since the industrial revolution of being a dour centre of manufacturing. Not any more.

The OS (“normally among the least political of government agencies”) has released not only the maps but also the underlying geospatial data, showing the number, types and total area of green spaces by local authority, constituency or even around a planned housing development.

Matt Thomson, head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: “This data will be especially valuable to communities preparing neighbourhood plans, helping define areas needing protection or where green space is lacking.”

The paper stressed that OS data would be valuable to other campaigners, quoting Jane Edwards, a local campaigner (Schools Liaison Officer, Trees for Life?), as saying that green spaces in the city were threatened by dereliction due to lack of maintenance.