What future for Sydney Gardens?

What future for Sydney Gardens?

One of the posters dotted around the park.

One of the posters dotted around the park.

Bath’s Sydney Gardens is currently dotted with official B&NES signs giving notice of plans to inject £250,000 into this old public park and asking those who enjoy using it for their views on ways it could be rejuvenated.

You have until March 6th to pass on your comments and suggestions – but more about that later.

On the council website this elongated hexagonal of land is correctly identified as the oldest park in the city but it wasn’t planned as being somewhere for the general public to go!

Winter sunshine in Sydney Gardens

Winter sunshine in Sydney Gardens

From the start this was a private commercial venture – opened in 1795 – as a pleasure ground.

It was a profit-making enterprise designed for adult society and entertainment with a character quite different from the more formal, flower-bedded and free-to-enter Victorian parks to come.

According to Michael Forsyth – in the Pevsner Architectural Guide to Bath – the Gardens or Vauxhall – to give the venture its proper name – was funded by shares of £100 and you had to pay a fee to get in and enjoy the facilities.

MInerva's Temple - brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

MInerva’s Temple – brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

The New Bath Guide for 1801 described  ‘waterfalls, stone and thatched pavilions, alcoves, a sham castle, bowling greens, swings, a labyrinth, a fine Merlin swing, a grotto of antique appearance, and four thatched umbrellas as a shelter for the rains.’

It was a lot to cram onto a modest site – and all surrounded by a drive for carriages and individually mounted horses to ride upon.

A novel entertainment for the well-to-do in the middle of a vast Georgian development. These were the former virgin acres of the Bathwick estate that could now be easily reached across the newly built Pulteney Bridge.

It was a Bath ‘New Town’ that would spread out from a fine terraced avenue of houses named after the estate’s developer Sir William Johnstone Pulteney.

Great Pulteney Street lead down to Sydney House – which formed it’s closure at the eastern end. However the building – now the Holburne Museum – was also the entrance to the pleasure gardens beyond.

The Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum

Thomas Baldwin – architect of Great Pulteney Street – initially designed Sydney House and Gardens in 1794, but in the end it was his pupil Charles Harcourt Masters who did the work and to a modified design.

The house offered coffee, tea and card rooms for those using the Gardens and with a ballroom on the first floor.

On the side facing the Gardens was a conservatory, orchestra stand and even – on the ground floor – a transparency. A picture painted on thin linen so that it glowed against the light.

There was also a public house in the basement – called the Sydney Tap – for chairmen, coachmen and other servants who were not allowed into the Gardens.

Sydney Gardens became a municipal park in 1909.

Sydney Gardens became a municipal park in 1909.

Events within these sylvan acres included public breakfasts and dinners – in open wooden supper boxes that jutted out in curved wings either side of the house.

There were evening promenades, gala nights with fireworks and illuminations and all accompanied by music.

All of this on offer in Gardens that were also planned to be enclosed by fine terraces of houses – that would all share a fine view of the pleasure gardens – and then the development would continue beyond.

Only two sides were completed. Bankruptcy and the French Revolution punctured this property balloon – so what remains is just a vision of what might have been.

The coming of the Kennet and Avon Canal – and then the Great Western Railway – produced further modification and disruption to the pleasure gardens layout – as both were to cut their way through its grounds.

The existing low wall from where people can watch the trains pass by.

The existing low wall from where people can watch the trains pass by.

As it was the canal – once built – was heralded as an additional ‘attraction’ while Brunel ‘landscaped’ his rail route through the Gardens – providing a visual theatre in which people could cheer his amazing trains as they sped – belching smoke and hissing steam – across this garden of delights.

Today the canal has been revitalised and the rail link to London is about to be electrified which will in itself involve some modification of the section through Sydney Gardens to address health and safety issues.

They will be digging a trench to keep people away from the line but not adversely affect the view.

The central path - looking up to the Loggia

The central path – looking up to the Loggia

Elsewhere  the original features have all but disappeared but the central axis – which does continue the line of Great Pulteney Street – and some interesting garden structures of later dates do remain.

B&NES had applied for Heritage Lottery funding but failed in the attempt. At one time a joint application was to go in from both the Holburne Museum and the Council but – for various – reasons only the Holburne’s proposal for an extension was submitted.

The Holburne extension

The Holburne extension

It was successful and – for some – a controversial but award-winning glass and ceramic 11.2 million pound extension was added to the Holburne which re-opened in May 2011 after building work was completed.

The Museum building had lost its direct link with the Gardens after it became  a college and its grounds were fenced.

The Holburne wants this view open up!

The Holburne wants this view open up!

It’s a well-known fact that – after adding an extension which turned the attention of visitors back to what lay outside – the Holburne would like to see a more direct link with the Gardens recreated. Some sort of balanced opening out into what lies beyond its rear boundaries.

No doubt B&NES will be aware of their feelings. Meanwhile they have called in a company called Place Studios Limited of Bristol to help them plan a course of action in Sydney Gardens.

On their website Place say: ‘We are qualified urban designers who enjoy working with stakeholders and communities. We are experienced in helping to shape places, streets and green spaces within the country’s most diverse and sensitive environments, notably Bristol, Bath and London.’

Members of urban designers Place Studios and interested parties taking a tour of Sydney Gardens.

Members of urban designers Place Studios and interested parties taking a tour of Sydney Gardens.

I spotted them out in the Gardens with council officials and other interested parties taking a walk around. It’s part of a process B&NES is undertaking before deciding on a plan of action. On the Council website it says:

‘In recent years the Council has been working with the local community to develop a long-term plan for improving Sydney Gardens. Recent surveys have identified that some of the listed historic structures and public amenities are in need of attention; and that there are concerns about anti-social behaviour in the Gardens, and the Council has recently allocated £250,000 to help address these issues.

MInerva's Temple - brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

MInerva’s Temple – brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

The Council has commissioned Place Studio to help: working with a project Steering Group that includes representatives of local residents’ groups (including The Friends of Sydney Gardens) to identify practical work that needs to happen now to help conserve the gardens and then to work with stakeholders to agree ongoing future improvements.’

According to Councillor David Dixon- who is Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods:

‘Sydney Gardens is one of Bath’s most historic public parks, much-loved by its local community, but in desperate need of careful rejuvenation. Bath & North East Somerset Council’s injection of £250,000 this year will kick-start a collaboration between the community and the Council, restoring the landscape, improving accessibility and enabling it to become an even better focus of the community life for future generations.’

B&NES lists its priorities for people to consider.

The Project Steering Group has identified a number of priorities for investment in the short-term, and we want to hear your views about these and/or any other priorities which you feel need addressing in the Gardens.

Priorities identified to date include:

Environment
• Reveal the canal.

Shrubbery prevents you seeing the canal. Should it be removed?

Shrubbery prevents you seeing the canal. Should it be removed?

• Open up views.
• More/better benches.
• Places for wildlife.
• Heritage interpretation

Access/Safety
• Signs to and around the gardens.
• Improve the entrances.
• Connect paths & remove dead ends.
• Trim overgrown bushes/shrubs.

Play/Keeping Fit
• Provide natural play opportunities for children.
• Improve the tennis courts.
• Outdoor gym/trail.
• Walking/jogging routes.
• More cycle parking.

It asks people who have suggestions for other improvements to send any comments by 6th March to: info@placestudio.com

Alternatively, you can write your comments down and drop them in to the Council’s One-Stop-Shop in Manvers Street in an envelope clearly marked ‘Sydney Gardens’.

The Virtual Museum has something to say on the subject. Clearly the Gardens cannot be restored to its original layout. Too much has changed – physically and socially – but it would be nice if its heritage could be better acknowledged. It is after all the last remaining portion of a former Georgian pleasure garden existing in this country!

Should the canal be opened up to view by removing shrubbery?

Should the canal be opened up to view by removing shrubbery?

Orignal planting was often done on such a confined space to hide attractions from one another. So that you came across each one as an element of surprise – although they were close to each other. At one time the whole gardens looked like a densely packed wood!

The Virtual Museum agrees that some views – like the canal – could be opened up. The restoration of a clear line between the Holburne and what remains of the Loggia at the top would also be welcomed.

B&NES talks about places for wildlife and the VM is not sure what they mean by this. As things stand the place is teeming with it and any reduction of flora would reduce habitat for what is there.

Seating could certainly be better

Seating could certainly be better

The park needs better seating. Could people not sponsor it? Already seats are providing as memorials to loved ones. Once upon a time there was wooden seating wrapped around mature trees. Could not that be done again?

The bottom tennis courts in need of attention

The bottom tennis courts in need of attention

Recreational activities do need to be addressed and certainly the bottom tennis court could do with a make-over.

The public loos have been overhauled but there are older listed loos to consider?

Get rid of the tarmac paths and – most important of all – bring the Gardens back into night use with proper lighting. I am sure l heard there were plans to have solar lights sunk into the ground?

Maybe a limited archaeological dig could identify some sites of past structure so some sort of reconstruction could be attempted?

The main driveway through Sydney Gardens. Swathes of tarmac!

The main driveway through Sydney Gardens. Swathes of tarmac!

New and old loos standing side by side

New and old loos standing side by side

Network Rail’s intervention in the area this year – as part of their electrification scheme – should be tied into the Council’s plans.

Maybe the company might help out in other ways!

B&NES say: ‘Once we have received suggestions, a plan of action will be agreed by the project Steering Group and the Council.

We will then update on progress and – at a later date – provide an opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to get involved in developing the longer term plan.’

The Council website for you to look at is: www.bathnes.gov.uk/…/sydney-gardens

 

 

 

 

Tales of the riverbank.

Tales of the riverbank.

Trees on both sides of the river are going.

Trees on both sides of the river are going.

The look of the river bank alongside Churchill Bridge – in the heart of Bath city centre – is rapidly changing.

Up is going more safety railings to try to prevent people falling into the water and down are coming lines of mature trees – some of which are more than 80 feet tall.

The huge crane that is lifting down the cut branches of these giant poplars.

The huge crane that is lifting down the cut branches of these giant poplars.

Both developments have to be welcomed. One will play a small but significant role in preventing more drowning tragedies, while the other – drastic though it is – will be a means to an end.

The trees have to come down so work can get underway on remodelling the river bank as part of a multi-million pound flood prevention scheme – shared by B&NES and the Environment Agency – that should provide additional protection for nearby commercial and residential property and allow a massive redevelopment of a river bank site in need of regeneration.

The proposed tree-lined terraces

The proposed tree-lined terraces

The re-shaping of the bank to allow for greater capacity during periods when the river is engorged with flood water and also allow planners to re-connect the people of Bath with their river.

The information boards by Churchill Bridge

The information boards by Churchill Bridge

There is an assortment of visual and written information that has sprung up on notice boards by Churchill Bridge and elsewhere explaining what is happening and why.

You can see how proposed  tree-lined riverside terraces will provide a new amenity and route for walkers and cyclists.

More visual information on the riverbank scheme

More visual information on the riverbank scheme

Its hoped wildlife will benefit from the plantings which should provide a corridor through the heart of Bath.

The new development is known as the Bath Quay Waterside Project.

There is going to be a great deal of disruption while building work gets underway but also the prospect of something new and exciting to come.

I watched in amazement this morning as a tree surgeon swung from his harness at least sixty to sixty-five feet above my head.

A tree surgeon at work above the North Quay

A tree surgeon at work above the North Quay

Above his was a swinging crane jib and a cable he was attaching to a giant branch of the poplar he was dismembering.

Once he has cut through – further down the branch – the whole section is then swung out and lowered to the ground.

I hate to see any tree come down but can appreciate the work would be impossible to do without clearing the site first.  Time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

The work completed. IN time - new plantings will be made on a re-shaped riverbank.

The work completed. Eventually – new plantings will be made on a re-shaped riverbank.

A more recent picture showing the now bare riverbank area where the trees once stood. This whole bank will be re-shaped and eventually replanted.

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>’DISEASED, DOUCHED AND DOCTORED'</strong>

<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.

Towpath to get upgrade at last

Towpath to get upgrade at last

The cycle ride into town is going to be smoother following Bath & North East Somerset Council’s success in securing a share of a 19m Cycle City Ambition Grant which the Department for Transport has awarded to the West of England to boost cycling within cities.

The pathway is to be upgraded.

The pathway is to be upgraded.

Upgrading the Kennet and Avon tow path is one scheme that will benefit as a result of Bath benefitting from a £3.8m share of the funds, which will be used to fund three key projects around the city centre.

The cycling schemes proposed will be delivered over the next three years, and have been chosen for their potential to make cycle journeys a realistic choice for quick, reliable and convenient short journeys within Bath.

The proposed schemes are:
1. Kennet & Avon Canal tow path. To enhance the traffic free route into central Bath along the tow path by upgrading the surface and widening the path for 2.44km along the NCN4 cycle route to benefit cyclists and pedestrians. This includes the path between Grosvenor Bridge and the tow path. Estimated cost £675,000.
2. Halfpenny Bridge. To widen the bridge, or construct a new bridge alongside the existing structure, to span the River Avon and link up the Bath Spa Rail Station with Rossiter Road for cyclists. Estimated cost £1.82m.
3. Locksbrook Railway Bridge. To provide a new crossing for pedestrians and cyclists over the River Avon, linking the Railway Path and Two Tunnels. Estimated cost £1.3m

Cllr Caroline Roberts, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “This investment allows us to continue with our plans to develop a cycling culture in Bath for people of all abilities. The proposed schemes will benefit pedestrians as well as cyclists, supporting our aim to make Bath the UK’s most walkable city.

“This links with the priorities in our transport strategy, Getting Around Bath, which emphasises the need for sustainable travel to reduce congestion, support economic growth, and enhance the city’s unique heritage status.”

By encouraging cycling and walking for short journeys within the city, the Council is working to reduce congestion, improving air quality and reducing delays for essential car journeys.

The bid for the £19m capital funding was submitted in partnership with Bristol City and South Gloucestershire Councils.

Spa towns of Europe visit Bath’s Georgian lido.

Spa towns of Europe visit Bath’s Georgian lido.

Trustees Chair, Ann Dunlop explains the layout to the visiting delegates.

Trustees Chair, Ann Dunlop explains the layout to the visiting delegates.

Bath’s derelict Cleveland Pools – Britain’s last remaining open-air, cold water Georgian lido – had some very special international visitors today.

A walk around the pool.

A walk around the pool.

They are representatives of many European spa towns who – along with Bath Spa – are bidding for World Heritage Status joint recognition of the important role spa towns have played in the development of modern Europe’s history, politics, arts and even today’s tourism industry.

The delegates are attending a General Assembly of the European Historical Thermal Towns Association – which is being held in Bath – and will involve representatives for 30 spa towns and regional associations.

Their visit to the Bathwick site – hopefully on the way to being restored  – marks an important point in the Lido’s history.

 

 

 

More information for delegates from Trustee, Paul Simon.

More information for delegates from Trustee, Paul Simon.

Cleveland Pools have recently been awarded a development grant of £366,220 pounds by the

Bath's Mayor, Cllr Cherry Beath - on the left - leads the visiting group on a tour of the facilities.

Bath’s Mayor, Cllr Cherry Beath – on the left – leads the visiting group on a tour of the facilities.

Heritage Lottery Fund with earmarked funding of 4.1 million to actually do the restoration job.

However, the money is not yet in the bag – as Project Director Christopher Heath explained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bath gets starring role in Poldark!

Bath gets starring role in Poldark!

TV drama Poldark premiers this Sunday, March 8, on BBC 1, at 9pm. Filming for the series took place in and around Bath with the help of Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Actor, Aidan Turner plays Ross Poldark.

Actor, Aidan Turner plays Ross Poldark.

Aidan Turner (The Hobbit Trilogy, Being Human) and Eleanor Tomlinson (Death Comes to Pemberley, The White Queen, Jack The Giant Slayer) star as Ross Poldark and Demelza in Debbie Horsfield’s adaptation of Winston Graham’s acclaimed sweeping saga set in 18th century Cornwall.

Robin Ellis, who played Ross in the original television adaptation of Poldark, will be joining the cast for two episodes to play Reverend Halse.

Executive producer Karen Thrussell says: “We’re so thrilled by the Poldark cast, and we feel particularly privileged that Robin Ellis has agreed to join this stellar line up – it’s a great tribute to Debbie Horsfield’s scripts.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Film Office was instrumental in finding several locations in the area, including Prior Park College.

Cllr Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Bath continues to draw high-profile productions to its film-friendly locations, and our Film Office works hard to support this as it’s great for the local economy. Last month we saw Sherlock being filmed here in Bath and I look forward to watching our city feature in Poldark.”

James Murphy-O’Connor, Headmaster at Prior Park College said: “The Mansion Hall was transformed into a sumptuous set appropriate to the late 18th century in which Poldark is set, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of the shoot when the programme is aired.”

The production also filmed at Corsham and Chavenage House.

Window on the war.

Window on the war.

A very special anniversary coming up for Bath Abbey later this month. Friday (13th March) marks 60 years since the restoration and rededication of the East Window which was blown out during the Bath Blitz in 1942.

 The east end of Bath Abbey

The east end of Bath Abbey

It was officially unveiled at a special dedication service on Sunday the 13th of March 1955.

Looking up through the chair stall to the East Window. Click on images to enlarge.

Looking up through the chair stall to the East Window. Click on images to enlarge.

Only last year, Bath Abbey launched its Creating Voices audio archive which comprises an audio guide dedicated to the restoration of the East Window.

This includes a clip of Eric Naylor, a member of the Abbey’s congregation at the time, who gives a first-hand account of the rededication ceremony as well as an interview from Clare Cook, the partner of Ron Kirk, who together with his father, Harry Kirk from Clayton and Bell.

Clare talks about what it was like for Ron and Harry to be responsible for the mammoth task of restoring the Abbey’s East Window to its original glory. You can access this via http://www.bathabbey.org/history/creating-voices-oral-history-project/east-window

Following the 1942 blitz, the Abbey could not be used for regular services for some time. Bits of glass were dropping from the broken windows and the wind-swept through them.

It wasn’t until the war ended in 1945 that the Abbey began to think about restoring the window as well as other aspects of the building.

The East Window in all its colourful glory.

The East Window in all its colourful glory.

The glass from the window was so badly damaged that practically every glass maker in England said that it couldn’t be restored. Until the glass-making firm, Clayton and Bell, took up the challenge – sending father-and-son team of “glaziers”, Harry and Ron Kirk.

It wasn’t until April 1952 that the first stained glass lancet window was ready to go back into the window frame.

By 16 April 1953, the first tier of the window was completed and over 17 months later, at the end of October 1954, the bottom tier was in place.

Sixty per cent of the original glass, collected by members of the Abbey congregation, was used in the restored window. An amazing fact – considering that the East Window is made up of 864 square feet (or 80 square metres) of stained glass!

Bath’s history man

Bath’s history man

personal

click on images to enlarge

 

click on images to enlarge

click on images to enlarge

Another little bit of self-promotion – but who is going to do it if l don’t.

I have to thank Sarah Ford – Assistant Editor of Somerset Life Magazine – for the excellent article she has written about ‘Yours Truly’ for this months (March) edition.

I appear to be part of a special ‘look at Bath’ which certainly illustrates why this is such a lovely place in which to live or of course visit.

Apart from having to endure an hour with me and take down my idle chatter she also managed to upstage Bath Abbey by putting me in front of it!

I am sure the Rector will let me off this time around.

It’s not until someone asks you about your working life – and also why you now have such a passion for the World Heritage city you live in – that you actually stop and take stock of how far you’ve come along a winding road of experiences but hopefully one with a horizon still to aim for in the distance.

 

Let us spray

Let us spray

The stencil view into Abbey Churchyard.

The stencil view into Abbey Churchyard.

At the foot of an 18th century column

At the foot of an 18th century column

I know its a trendy way of advertising your presence and so ‘street smart’ but stencil graffiti by people who should know better really bugs me.

It is a defacement of the public realm whoever does it and being chalk and not paint does not excuse the fact that people think it is ok to vandalise a World Heritage city in this way.

How ironic it’s been spayed right outside the door of the tourist office and  another patch is almost creeping up an 18th column on the colonnades looking into Abbey Churchyard.

Stencil outside the tourist and film office

Stencil outside the tourist and film office

This pavement peril vies with the chewing gum splodges in setting a low example for the four and a half million who flock here each year to bolster our local economy.

Jet setting in Bristol

Jet setting in Bristol

Click on images to enlarge.

Click on images to enlarge.

Your Director makes no secret of the fact that he spent a lot of his working life in Bristol and was pleased recently to return to get involved in a project which seeks to uncover some of the more unusual elements of this equally historical place which is also guardian to its own architectural, engineering and artistic heritage.

Posing with the production crew on board the ss Great Britain

Posing with the production crew on board the ss Great Britain

Hidden Bristol is the name of a pilot which is being broadcast by Made in Bristol TV tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 3rd) at 8pm.

I am told the channel’s ‘catch-up’ facility will be up and running by the end of the week for those – like me – who cannot get this channel.

Bloodhound beginning to take shape behind me.

Bloodhound beginning to take shape behind me.

In the programme l get a chance to get up close to the latest supersonic engineering project being undertaken in the city.

After Concorde comes Bloodhound – a rocket and jet engine propelled vehicle out to break the land speed record and also pass through the 1,000 miles an hour speed barrier.

Me and artist Luke Jerram.

Me and artist Luke Jerram.

I’m talking to artist Luke Jerram – the man who put a water chute in Park Street – and is now planning boats in Leigh Woods.

We have a chat about public art and why he’s not hot about statues of dead people!

Then along the engineering masterpiece that is the ss Great Britain – plans for a new museum about the man who built her – Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

I get to hear more about what made him tick and examine some very personal effects.

It’s been fun getting around the old maritime city again and meeting some great people. Catch it if you can!