Tag Archives: Stirchley

Time travelling to Stirchley Swimming Baths

I’m interested in all kinds of travel, even the trips you take inside your head. So when the opportunity to visit a local landmark – Stirchley swimming baths where I learnt to swim as a child in 1977 – came up, I was first in line.

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Or rather 20th in line. It seems I wasn’t the only one on a nostalgia trip. Here’s the queue for the Stirchley Baths Open Day. The baths were built in 1910, closed in the 1980s and are about to be converted into a community centre thanks to Tesco’s 30 pieces of silver.

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My B30: Stirchley Community Market

Following on from my joy at my postcode getting a blog called Fuck Yeah Stirchley – thanks to a mention on The Archers – comes the joy of Stirchley Community Market – which earlier this month had its own feature in The Guardian, and fresh from which I am in the door.

Somehow the Stirchley of my childhood – home of skinheads, teds, Bottle Bill, flashers along the River Rea, and getting duffed up in the park – has turned into a name to drop and a place to feature. Even Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture Martin Mullaney was at this little postcode car park market, tucking into a jambalaya and talking about Brum’s potential to become a gastro city.

Why? Why is Stirchley suddenly so, what’s the phrase?, on the radar?

I’m not sure. Maybe someone knows someone at the Guardian – certainly, it’s interesting that the Guardian feature notes the presence of a scriptwriter from The Archers, so there’s a serendipitous link there.

Perhaps it’s the hint of trendier Moseley and Kings Heath vibe, that one of the stall-holders put down to people buying in Stirchley but missing the B13/14 vibe. The Guardian says Stirchley’s “movers and shakers” (lol) are graduates of local universities “who have settled in the area and seem determined to improve it”.

What else can explain bare-footed tuba players and organic veg stalls being held in the car park of Stirchley United Working Men’s Club, of which my dad was a member, where we shared a father-daughter Sunday pint and where his funeral wake was eventually held.

It’s probably no wonder I feel slightly strange and bemused about the national press attention and slightly weird market demographics. But I’m not unhappy. Just a little weirded out.

This feeling is compounded by being served a beautifully handmade Lemon and Earl Grey cup cake by a former prison offender who makes cakes as part of his rehabilitation.

It would seem that Another Stirchley truly is possible!

So here, in lofi mobile camera glory, is the newer, hipper, hippier and right-on Stirchley.

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• The next Stirchley Community Market will be held on 28 September.

My postcode has a brand new blog – thanks to The Archers

fuckyeahstirchley homepage

Is it local journalism? Probably not but it was amusing to see how The Archers* triggered a chain of events resulting in a new hyperlocal blog and a deep funk theme tune for my own small but dear postcode in south Birmingham. How it happened in a minute, but first, please welcome:

fuckyeahstirchley

And a round of applause for my B30 neighbour @graphiquillan who set it up, and the various contributors and curators who have made Stirchley look rather interesting if not downright pretty.

How B30 was reborn online on the night of 10 June 2010:

  • A London chum of mine texted to say Stirchley had been mentioned on The Archers* that day. Kudos for Stirchley from Radio 4 and the longest running soap opera in the world!
  • I duly sent a message to Twitter to alert the Birmingham massive (well, a few Twitter followers).
  • Graphiquillan suggested there should be a tribute site called ‘fuckyeahstirchley’ and before my train had pulled into Birmingham from London, she had set it up and invited several contributors.
  • FuckYeahStirchley then went live with the tagline: ‘Stirchley. You know, the one that got a mention on The Archers.’
  • The content flowed in: recent pictures, old images, reminiscences… who knew there was so much out there on little old Stirchley.
  • There was Cartland Road in a rainstorm, shots of the cream-and-blue 45 bus, a Co-op milk float (the Co-op dairy is no more), 70s actor Robin Nedwell who was allegedly born here, the now-closed public baths, the DIY stores, and much more.
  • Someone else from Twitter then grabbed the audio from the show and the original Archers Stirchley namecheck was posted. Here’s the infamous line: ‘I think Jack liked having another Brummie in the village – someone to reminisce about Stirchley with.’ [Insert your own unknown suburb in here to imagine just how exciting this is.]
  • Then @PeteAshton, also of B30, went one step further and put it to music – posting ‘The inevitable Archers Reminisce About Stirchley megamixmashup thingy. With beats.’ – listen all the way to the end for a lovely TeamAmerica-Stirchley-Archers signoff flourish.
  • It got picked up by a writer on the show and distributed to The Archers community on Twitter at 6am the next morning: ‘Peggy Woolley mashed up by the Stirchley massive: http://bit.ly/arjMaj via @peteashton#archers‘.

And so the circle was complete. That’s how we roll in Stirchley (non-marina end). Fuck yeah.

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*The Archers (from Wikipedia): The Archers is a British soap opera broadcast on the BBC‘s main spoken-word channel, Radio 4. It was originally billed as “an everyday story of country folk”, but is now described on its Radio 4 web site as “contemporary drama in a rural setting”. With more than 16,000 episodes, it is both the world’s longest running radio soap and, since the axing of the American soap opera Guiding Light in September 2009, the world’s longest running soap opera in any format.