Pools Winner!

Pools Winner!

The oldest surviving open-air swimming baths in the UK are set to be fully restored and reopened to the public, thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

 Celebrations indeed! L to R  Adviser Mary Sabina Stacey, Trustees Paul Simon, Ina Harris, Ainslie Ensom, Sally Helvey and Ann Dunlop.

Celebrations indeed! L to R Adviser Mary Sabina Stacey, Trustees Paul Simon, Ina Harris, Ainslie Ensom, Sally Helvey and Ann Dunlop.

The Grade II* listed Cleveland Pools, a 200-year-old Georgian lido in the historic city of Bath, has secured earmarked funding of £4.1million including a development grant of £366,200, it was announced today.

Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, who has been a long-time supporter and ambassador for the project, said: “This is such good news. After hard work and sheer perseverance by the Trust and its advisers it’s looking like we will have a magnificent and unique pool in Bath that we can all enjoy for a proper outdoor swim.”

Heritage regeneration specialists, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, provided the Trust with expert advice and guidance on making the application to the HLF. Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, said:
“We’re absolutely delighted with this news. It’s a momentous step forward for Cleveland Pools after years of hard work by everyone involved. In the current hot weather the cooling waters of the Cleveland Pools would be a popular and attractive asset for everyone in Bath.  We are now finally close to making that happen.

Cllr David Bellotti, Cabinet member for Community Resources

Cllr David Bellotti, Cabinet member for Community Resources

Meanwhile, Cllr David Bellotti (LibDem, Lyncombe), B&NES Cabinet Member for Community Resources, said: “This is excellent news. The Council had previously earmarked £200,000 to match fund the restoration of the Cleveland Pools – we will now meet with the Trust to discuss the next steps.”

The pools first opened in 1815 following the Bathwick Water Act which prohibited nude bathing in the river. Laid out in the shape of a miniature Georgian crescent, the site includes two bathing pools, the original changing rooms and a private ladies pool.

They are one of only a small number of pre-Victorian sporting buildings to survive nationally and it is believed that the Cleveland Pools could be the oldest swimming baths of its type in Western Europe.IMG_2159

The site closed to the public in 1978 and after finally closing altogether in 1984 was briefly used as a trout farm. It has since deteriorated but although on English Heritage’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register, the main features remain remarkably intact.

The restoration project, run by community group The Cleveland Pools Trust, will conserve the Georgian features and upgrade the facilities to allow for year-round swimming and other activities. Expert advice has been provided by English Heritage and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

When complete, the site will include a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and café. The pools will be naturally treated and heated using the latest technology.

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “There’s nothing quite like swimming in the great outdoors, and it’s something which so many of us really enjoy, whatever our age. Cleveland Pools are believed to be the oldest surviving example of a public swimming pool in England. They have a fantastic story behind them that provides a glimpse into how our ancestors spent their leisure time, and we’re delighted to support this important project.’P1090568

Ann Dunlop, Chairman of the Cleveland Pools Trust, said: “The trust and its many supporters will be over the moon that our campaign to keep the pools in the public eye, while developing a sustainable plan working with experts from both English Heritage and The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, has finally got the green light from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Huge thanks go to the Prince’s Regeneration Trust for their expert advice and support in helping make this happen.”

The HLF grant will cover 85% of the total costs. The Trust are now looking to secure the remaining money and are hoping that people will be moved to donate to make the project a reality.

Ann told the Virtual Museum that they had recently discovered some amazing history about the characters and events which have taken place over the Pools long history and that – along with its unique architecture, the tranquil setting and the soon-to-be-reinstated river pontoon allowing people to arrive by boat – they at last felt they were really on to an all-round winner.lido

“The HLF grant is, of course, the icing on the cake and we feel so proud that they have finally shown their faith in us.

We cannot be complacent about what happens next and we shall begin straight away to activate our working groups and to approach businesses, foundations and philanthropists for sponsorship so that we can get stuck into the development stage.

We will be interviewing for a Project Director in September to get the ball rolling on governance during this process.

We all hope you will continue your support in whatever way you can so that we finally realise the dream of bringing open-air swimming back to everyone in Bath and beyond.”

New Keynsham Civic Centre to include solar power

New Keynsham Civic Centre to include solar power


Bath & North East Somerset Council is on track to complete its £34 million redevelopment of Keynsham by the Autumn.

The Council is working with the local community to revitalise the town with new jobs, new homes, and a revamped town centre. Plans include making better use of the existing town hall site to improve the town centre and encourage more private sector investment into Keynsham.

The new Keynsham Civic Centre

The new Keynsham Civic Centre

A Sainsbury’s Local was last month confirmed as the first letting for the development, and will create 20 to 25 full and part job opportunities. The Council has confirmed that Loungers cafe has agreed to take the unit behind Sainsbury’s, overlooking the park and a further unnamed occupier is relocating from Riverside. The Council is proactively marketing the remaining units and negotiations are underway on a number of these.

The new buildings will be known as the Keynsham Civic Centre, and will incorporate Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Offices, the One Stop Shop and retail units. The Council has also confirmed that a new street being created between the buildings will be called Market Walk, which links to the history of this part of the town, as well as looking to the future when there will be market stalls at this location.

Keynsham Civic Centre will be amongst the most energy-efficient in the country, with work to install one of the largest council-owned solar panel systems in the UK now completed.

Solar panels being installed at Keynsham.

Solar panels being installed at Keynsham.

The 750 solar panels – which cover an area equivalent to more than four tennis courts – will generate over 230,000 units of electricity each year, equivalent to the annual energy use of almost 70 homes. This will benefit the Council by around £50,000 every year, and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 125 tonnes. Over 20 years the benefits are expected to reach almost £1.5 million, and avoid CO2 emissions of 2,355 tonnes.

Cllr David Bellotti (LibDem, Lyncombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Resources, said: “This is a very exciting time for Keynsham and I have no doubt that this development will provide a real boost to the local economy with the creation of new jobs, better shopping facilities and a more attractive town centre.

“It is also a key part of the Council’s contribution to the district-wide carbon emission reduction target of 45% by 2026. Our Council office will be an ultra-low carbon building that has virtually no heating and cooling requirement because it will have natural ventilation and high levels of insulation. By generating our own solar energy on-site we will drastically reduce the building’s running costs and will also generate a stable income through the feed-in tariff.

“Not only will this benefit the environment, it will also save the Council and local taxpayers money which can be used to support essential frontline services.”

The development work is being carried out by Willmott Dixon while the solar installation was designed and installed by Solarsense.

For more information on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s regeneration of Keynsham town Centre, visit: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/keynshamregen.

Concern grows for future of the “Min”.

One of Bath’s best-loved Georgian buildings could be about to shut up shop.

With a personal view of developments, Professor George Odam, who was Patient Governor of the RNHRD for nine years until his resignation in August last year, raises his concerns for the building’s future and has his own ideas about how the Min could still play a useful role to enhance the city’s reputation as a health spa.

In 1988 there was a move to relocate The Min to the RUH site in Combe Park and the plans and rationale can be viewed at the Guildhall Archive. Merging the administration of the two hospitals makes good sense, but the identity and mission of both are very different and both need preservation so that they can continue to function. This has been achieved in many other English cities.

However, in 1988 the proposal was to sell The Min and make it into a shopping mall, with a Plan B of a hotel. Since the rebuild of Southgate, the loss of The Podium and the new hotel development in Beau Street, the most likely outcome of the sale of The Min would be a boarded up site that would deteriorate and be subject to vandalism.

But money <strong>is</strong> a central issue and a new campaign to save, recondition and modernise the interior of The Min and restore the Grade 2 exterior would have to be found. There are local, national and private funds for this sort of thing once a case has been well made, and I am certain that many patients, families and friends would wish to support such a venture.

Bath is the only significant and active European Spa City without its own Spa Hospital. In the 1960s and 70s The Min’s hydrotherapy pool was fed by the Roman Spring until the amoeba stopped it all. The conduits still lie beneath the streets.”


<strong>EDITOR</strong> Professor Odam mentioned the launch of Dr Roger Roll’s new book describing the rise of mineral water as a therapy and how treatments in Rheumatology have changed. It will be launched in the Chapel at The Min on Monday, November 26th. It’s a ticket only presentation which is complemented by an exhibition of original 18th century patient records and historical medical artefacts.

<a href=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/chapel/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-481″><img title=”chapel” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/chapel.jpg?w=280&#8243; height=”168″ width=”224″ /></a> The chapel at The Min

Kate Lane and her helpers at the hospital have been putting it  together and l know she wants to develop the display further and hopefully be able to let school groups in to visit. I have asked her to do her own Virtual Museum piece on the subject in the not too distant future!

However, l have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of some of the exhibits. I love signatures and have had the fantastic opportunity of gazing down at the names of some of the city’s historical ‘greats’ in their own hand writing – including Richard Nash, William Oliver, Ralph Allen and John Wood the Elder. Also some of the earliest patients records in very clear handwriting.

<a href=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/ralph-allen-signature/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-485″><img title=”ralph allen signature” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/ralph-allen-signature.jpg?w=280&#8243; height=”210″ width=”280″ /></a> Clearly ‘Ralph Allen’

<a href=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/richard-nash/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-486″><img title=”richard nash” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/richard-nash.jpg?w=280&#8243; height=”168″ width=”224″ /></a> Look down the list for ‘Jo Wood’

<a href=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/patients-report/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-483″><img title=”patients report” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/patients-report.jpg?w=195&#8243; height=”260″ width=”195″ /></a> Patient records from 1749!

Remember this was a hospital serving the poor of all England and many of them stayed here for many weeks. At the bottom of each entry is a clear indication of whether they had benefitted from their treatment or died!

I loved the collection of badges which had to be worn by patients to identify them as such. One entry records the fact that a patient was turned out for being caught in a local public house. Landlords could be fined for serving patients from the hospital.

<a href=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/hospital-badges/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-482″><img title=”hospital badges” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/hospital-badges.jpg?w=195&#8243; height=”260″ width=”195″ /></a> Collection of ward and patient badges

There is much here that truly deserves to be seen by a wider audience. This ancient institution – England’s first national hospital – is an important part of this city’s history.

virtualmuseumofbath.com 2012.

Award winning Journalist to lecture at Museum of Bath at Work

Award winning Journalist to lecture at Museum of Bath at Work

Mark Palmer with former employees at Wells

Mark Palmer with former employees at Wells

Mark Palmer a writer and editor at the Daily Mail is presenting the prestigious Annual Michael Cross Lecture at the Museum of Bath at Work on Wednesday 10th September on the history of the world famous Clarks Shoe business and the family which established it.

Mr Palmer's latest book on the history of Clarks Shoes

Mr Palmer’s latest book on the history of Clarks Shoes

Author of the definitive study on the company -‘Made to Last-The Story of Clarks Shoes’ Mr Palmer’s lecture, entitled ‘Family Values and Family Business’ will look at the history of firm and the dynamic of business and family relations.

Many Bathonians worked for Clarks either at their large Rush Hill factory or at the shoe making machinery business C & J Clarks in Oldfield Park.

Lecture begins at 7.00 p.m. with light refreshments from 6.30 p.m. and tickets are £7.50 from the Museum of Bath at Work on 01225 318348 or mobaw@hotmail.com.

For more details please contact Stuart Burroughs at the Museum of Bath at Work

Tell Us A Story.

Tell Us A Story.

Thousands of people take stories out of Bath & North East Somerset Council libraries – now the library wants residents to bring stories to them.

This year the Library Service is teaming up with A Word in Your Ear and Kilter for its annual writing competition. Once again it is kindly sponsored by The Bath Chronicle.

The theme is noir. That could be a classic story; sinister, moody, perhaps with a twisting narrative and set in shadowy underworlds. Or it could be influenced by contemporary Scandinavian Noir.

Bath Central Library.

Bath Central Library.

The competition is free to enter and open to all adults. It is now open and you can submit your story as soon as you like. The winning stories will be read at the Story Fridays event on 7 November at Burdall’s Yard, Bath. There are book token prizes of £20 and £10.

Cllr David Dixon, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods (Lib Dem, Oldfield), said: “The annual short story competition from Bath & North East Somerset Council’s library service has always proved popular.

“We all know how popular Scandinavian Noir is – perhaps this will kickstart some Somerset Noir.”

There is no maximum word count but remember that this competition is for stories written for reading out so bear this in mind when you are writing. The closing date for entries is Wednesday 22 October.

Hand in your entry at any Bath & North East Somerset Council library attaching an entry form, these are available at all libraries, or submit it on the Word in Your Ear website at http://www.awordinyourear.org.uk.

There is also information on the library events web page at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk.

New Gainsborough Hotel opening could be Easter 2015?

New Gainsborough Hotel opening could be Easter 2015?

Word on the street l am hearing is that work to transform Bath’s former general hospital into a new five-star luxury spa hotel is running a little behind time.

The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel

The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel

The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel – was due to open in the spring of this year but then the completion date was moved back to the summer.

I have now been told things will not be ready for the owners – the YTL Group – to take advantage of any Christmas trade so a grand opening might have to wait until next Easter.

YTL – who specialise in award-winning international resorts, hotels and spa villages – say the Gainsborough will be the only UK hotel to benefit from being connected to the city’s supply of mineral-rich natural thermal waters.

The building – which in previous lives has been both hospital and technical college – is being transformed into a 99 roomed luxury hotel with restaurant, private dining, conference and event facilities.

An image showing a proposed hotel bedroom

An image showing a proposed hotel bedroom

It’s going to be a real mixture of classical architecture and contemporary design.

YTL also have the operating contract for the Thermae Spa next door – and that part of the inner-city is now being referred to as ‘Spa Village Bath’.

You can find out more about the hotel via http://www.thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk.

The website just says the hotel is opening soon.

I have just received the following statement from Martin J Clubbe who is the general manager of the new hotel.

‘Unfortunately, I am unable to inform you of an opening date as the construction of the hotel has taken longer than expected due to the challenges of working within a listed building. We will finalise the opening date when all elements of this iconic property are finished to the exacting standards of YTL Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World.’

Tying the knot at Bath’s Cleveland Pools.

Tying the knot at Bath’s Cleveland Pools.

Fresh from success in securing HLF funding to confirm its future restoration – Bath’s Cleveland Pools is about to help a young couple celebrate their forthcoming marriage.  This hidden gem – beside the River Avon at Bathwick – includes the only Georgian open air swimming pool in existence.

Richard and his fiancé Polly watching Trust volunteer - and friend - Sarah Kean Price doing some scything at the Cleveland Pools site.

Richard and his fiancé Polly watching Trust volunteer – and friend – Sarah Kean Price doing some scything at the Cleveland Pools site.

Polly Cassidy and her fiancé Richard Jones first visited the site during a Heritage Open Day and were ‘knocked out’ by what they saw. The couple – Polly told me – were looking for somewhere different to include in their marriage celebrations later this month – and this rather ‘odd, tucked away, outdoor’ complex fitted the bill perfectly.

Polly – who is a charity worker – and Richard – a computer systems developer – will have their civil ceremony this week at Bath’s Guildhall but the real fun will start when they arrive at the Cleveland Pools by rowing boat next Saturday.

Watched by family and friends they will take part in a ‘hand-fasting’ ceremony – an old English custom says Polly – and a symbolic act of tying a marrying couple’s hands together with a ribbon.

The couple will be rowed to the event by a friend. Polly tells me she will be wearing a blue and silver 1950’s styled dress which she chose deliberately so she can wear it again. They are also obviously hoping for fine weather.

Polly and Richard’s river-bank arrival is also a symbolic sign of bigger things to come. Next year the Cleveland Pools Trust plan to install a floating pontoon to connect with river traffic.

The Trust is also keen to be put on the Bath and North East Somerset Council list of wedding venues and will be looking into getting a licence to perform civic wedding ceremonies at the Pools.

Looking back at Worle

Looking back at Worle

It’s a little off the Bath patch but l wanted to mention a superb two-day exhibition being held today and tomorrow – Friday August 15th and Saturday August 16th – by members of Worle Historical Society at the Worle Community Centre in Lawrence Road from 10 tip 7 (Friday) and from 10 until 4pm (Saturday).

It’s a place you drive through on your way into Weston-super-Mare but years ago the ‘village’ was bigger than the collection of fishermens’ cottages on the coast.

Early visitors at the Worle Historical Society exhibition.

Early visitors at the Worle Historical Society exhibition.

When my grandparents – Arthur and Gladys Pope – kept the Lamb Inn public house it was just a small community – complete with butcher, baker, dairy, general stores and even a combined furnishings and sweet shop called Skidmores – which made its own ice-cream. Skiddies we knew it as when l was a young boy. I lived there until l was six but my parents had a much longer association.

I was able to take my mother to the exhibition and it quite made her day! The Society has been in existence for five years and felt it was the right time to share their archives, pictures, maps, family trees and databases with all those who were interested.

My mother deep in conversation with Mr and Mrs David Kingsbury at the exhibition.

My mother deep in conversation with Mr and Mrs David Kingsbury at the exhibition.

An exhibition team has been working all summer to prepare 25 display boards on a variety of topics from population growth to schools. 

We bought a Society calendar for 2015 and l tried some delicious lemon drizzle cake. They even give you a complimentary cuppa! My mother met several old friends and was swept back in time to her years as a girl and then as a young married mother.

Do check out the Society website on www.worlehistorysociety.net. 

Hidden treasures on view

Hidden treasures on view

Bath & North East Somerset Council is giving residents and visitors a chance to explore parts of the city’s heritage they would normally never get to see.

Every year on four days in September, buildings of national historic importance and contemporary style throw open their doors to enable people to celebrate Britain’s fantastic architecture and cultural heritage.

BathBetween 11 – 14 September, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Services team is giving them the opportunity to discover ‘hidden treasures’ and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Heritage Open Days is organised by a huge network of people who share a passion for places, history and culture.

“Attracting over one million visitors, this makes Heritage Open Days England’s biggest voluntary cultural event. It is a once-a-year opportunity to discover treasures never normally seen by the public in places that normally charge for admission.”

This year, Bath has 15 different venues taking part: Southcot Burial Ground (Bath Preservation Trust), Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, Central United Reformed Church, Cleveland Pools, Fairfield House, Ralph Allen Cornerstone, St Swithin’s Church, The Magdalen Chapel, The Museum of Bath at Work, Nexus Methodist Church, No.4 The Circus, Roman Baths, St. John’s Store, St Mary’s Catholic Church, Widcombe Association.

For the first time, the Kier Recycling Depot at Keynsham is offering a visit behind the scenes to see what happens to your recycling after collection from your home. Places on the guided-only tours are limited and must be booked in advance with Council Connect. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Services, this year’s open day include special tunnel tours at the Roman Baths and feature two places which are not normally open to the public. All of the sites will open free of charge or provide free events.bath

· Thursday, 11 September 10am and 3pm, and Friday 12 September 10am and 3pm – go behind the scenes at the Roman Baths and take part in Tunnel Tours. The 90-minute tours take in the Georgian vaults and the main museum store, which includes objects found in Bath from Roman to the Victorian times. Visitors will also be able to see the King’s Spring Borehole supplying water to the Pump Room.

· Friday, 12 September 10am-12 noon and 1pm-3pm – see inside No.4 The Circus, a beautiful house and restored Georgian garden – the first of its kind in Britain.

· Saturday, 13 September 11am – 3pm – marvel at the range of historical spa equipment at St John’s Store and also read the original Victorian spa treatments visitor books. Also on display will be furniture by local craftsmen and some once-familiar sights.

To book a place on the Open Days, please call 01225 477 773. For further information download a leaflet here or visit: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/heritageevents and http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/whats_on/events/events_calendar/september_heritage_open_days.aspx

Audio guide launch at Bath Abbey.

Audio guide launch at Bath Abbey.

On Tuesday 19 August from 10am to 4pm, local residents and visitors are invited to explore Bath Abbey in a whole new way by listening to audio guides about how the buildings stonework, stained glass windows, bells and other architectural features have been kept at their best.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

Nine new mini audio guides will be available to download from the Abbey’s website: http://www.bathabbey.org/creatingvoices, as part of the successful completion of the ‘Creating Voices’ oral history project, which has been supported by a grant of £22,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

‘Creating Voices’ has enabled the Abbey to gather, preserve and share the memories and experiences of over 30 men and women who helped care for and restore the Abbey between 1942 and 2000.

These stories have been pieced together into a collection of unique audio guides which will enrich even the keenest historian’s knowledge of the Abbey’s history and beautiful architecture.

These range from Fire Watchers’ memories of how the Abbey’s massive East window was shattered during WWII to accounts of when thousands of toothbrushes were used in the 1990s to painstakingly clean the stonework inside the Abbey that was black from hundreds of years of soot and pollution.

Dr Oliver Taylor, Oral History Project Manager at Bath Abbey, said: “The ‘Creating Voices’ project has swept the dust from our history books and has opened our eyes to fresh first-hand personal stories of Bath Abbey from as far back as 1942. Visitors who download the audio guides, whether from Bath or further afield, will be the first of many to engage with newly-discovered stories of the Abbey.

Bath Abbey interior

Bath Abbey interior

It’ll be like having your very own tour guide in your pocket, taking you back in time and helping you learn about aspects of the Abbey that have been restored , whether it’s the magnificent West front that you walk past every day or the melodic bells that still ring out across the city every day. Often the person you hear is the person who kept that part of the Abbey in such good condition!

“All you’ll have to do is download the audio guides in the comfort of your own home, then bring your MP3 player or smartphone with you and listen to them in the Abbey. For those without a MP3 player or smartphone, there’ll be Listening Points throughout the Abbey on the day so that everyone can listen to the fascinating tales and memories of those who have restored and cared for the Abbey throughout history!”

The ‘Creating Voices’ project and the new audio guides are the result of 18-months of hard work by volunteers from the Abbey’s congregation and Heritage students from Bath Spa University, as well as the generosity of the craftsmen and women who came forward to share their stories. In addition to the HLF funding the project was made possible by £7,000 from the Friends of Bath Abbey.

The new audio guides will be available to download from 18 August via the new pages about the restorations on the Abbey website.. These pages can be found at www.bathabbey.org.uk/creatingvoices.