Bath’s heritage in decay says councillor.

Bath’s heritage in decay says councillor.

grand paradeThe crumbling state of the balustrade looking down on Bath’s iconic Pulteney Bridge and Weir has prompted one local councillor to urge the local authority to take more pride in its heritage which – he says – is showing signs of decay.

Cllr Bryan Chalker – who is heritage ‘champion’ for B&NES and a councillor within the Lambridge ward – was reacting to the boarding that have been appearing along the balustrade on Grand Parade – which overlooks the bridge and weir.

It would appear to be covering areas of stone where the columns are fragile and eroded. A Council spokesman has said repairs are necessary and the boarding is only temporary.

However, Cllr Chalker told the Virtual Museum of Bath that this was the most iconic of all Bath’s attractions and B&NES should do the repairs as a matter of urgency.


New homes for old. Curo plan for Foxhill

New homes for old. Curo plan for Foxhill

foxhillThe Virtual Museum of Bath has been up to St Andrews Community Church at Combe Down to join the many people interested in seeing the first public showing of the Masterplan for Foxhill. It’s all part of the major regeneration scheme proposed by housing group Curo for the old MOD site.

The MOD site at Foxhill.

The MOD site at Foxhill.

It is hoped that – once planning permission is given – work can quickly start on creating new homes and community facilities.

Beyond that Curo hope they can also replace up to 500 sub-standard homes on the old post-war Foxhill housing estate and have issued a guarantee that no one will be worse off by what is planned while many will benefit.

Do click on the box below to see an extended interview with Curo’s Chief Executive, Victor da Cunha.



The exhibition at St Andrews continues tomorrow Saturday April 12th between 10 and 4 otherwise checkout from Monday next.


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=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-481″><img title=”chapel” alt=”” src=”; 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=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-485″><img title=”ralph allen signature” alt=”” src=”; height=”210″ width=”280″ /></a> Clearly ‘Ralph Allen’

<a href=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-486″><img title=”richard nash” alt=”” src=”; height=”168″ width=”224″ /></a> Look down the list for ‘Jo Wood’

<a href=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-483″><img title=”patients report” alt=”” src=”; 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=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-482″><img title=”hospital badges” alt=”” src=”; 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. 2012.

Portrait of a lady?  Life as a woman in Georgian Bath.

Portrait of a lady? Life as a woman in Georgian Bath.

From the gutter to the stately home, and from palace to brothel, Georgian women’s lives are revealed through an intriguing exhibition of mezzotint portraits and ephemera at No.1 Royal Crescent, Bath which opens 16 May and runs until 14 December 2014.

Portrait of a ladyThe Georgian era is regarded by many as an age of elegance, but for women it could be anything but.

In the 18th century, the law regarded women as the possessions of men. They could not hold land, or vote and their children were recognised as the property of their husbands.

While society deemed marriage as the only respectable route through which a woman could better her prospects, many chose to forfeit their reputations and achieved this via a career on the stage or through prostitution.

Their portraits offer a glimpse into their lives and how Georgian society regarded their images. Filled with nuance and suggestion, these mezzotints would have been collected as much for their risqué associations as for their beauty or notoriety. Regardless of their backgrounds, accomplishments or titles, women’s portraits would have appeared for sale in print shop windows, side-by-side, with no distinction made between them.

A publically adored actress or a reviled noblewoman? Which one is truly a portrait of a lady?
Once committed to paper, a woman’s portrait could be used by anyone for any purpose. It could be bought or sold, displayed, defaced, derided or adored. It entered the public domain – much like an actress or a fallen woman. As women were for possessing, so too were their images.

Historian Hallie Rubenhold said:
“I am delighted to be working with the Bath Preservation Trust on this exciting project. This exhibition reveals the reality of women’s lives in the Georgian era. For me, it is important that we tell these stories about darker aspects of our past which can contrast dramatically with often misleading public perceptions of the period.”

Head of Museums, Tom Boden said:
“This is our first major exhibition in the new Brownsword Gallery at the recently redeveloped No. 1 Royal Crescent and we are thrilled to be working with renowned historian Hallie Rubenhold who is curating the show. The exhibition will uncover stories about women from all walks of life during the Georgian period and at the same time will celebrate the art of the mezzotint.”

During the 18th century, it is suggested that one in five women were engaged in prostitution at some point during their lives. Some of the most celebrated figures of 18th century society, such as Kitty Fisher, began their careers in prostitution before being taken into ‘keeping’ by a wealthy client and eventually marrying. Noble women such as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Elizabeth Chudleigh were also not immune from the taint of scandal and could find their characters defamed beside those of actresses and courtesans.

This exhibition is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and by George Bayntun.


Is Bath ready for a tourist tax?

Is Bath ready for a tourist tax?

Boarded up section at Pulteney Weir

Boarded up section at Pulteney Weir

One of Bath’s most iconic tourist locations is looking a bit lack-lustre at present.

The stone balustrade separating Grand Parade from the Pulteney Bridge and Weir on the River Avon below is having to be boarded up in places because of erosion.

There’s a real fear a child could push through a stone column and fall into the water below.

Repairs will have to be done but there is no evidence of this being a rushed job!

Unlike the thousands being spent on a new roof and internal improvements to the Roman Baths and Pump Room complexes.

That of course is a major source of income for the city where footfall can be accounted for in pounds and pence. Entrance fees seem to increase every year.colonnades

Grand Parade must technically belong to the Council as it is above the colonnaded area beside the river that they want to develop with high-end restaurants.

Maybe B&NES is hoping the new businesses will help pay for the work above their heads but – in the meantime – isn’t it time the city made tourists help pay for the upkeep of the very things they come to see.

Is it time for a tourist tax? An extra pound a night for staying in our hotels and guest houses. Other countries do it and we do have a World Heritage status to uphold.

Let’s get a real debate going on this. Bath’s long-term tourist/heritage future is at stake.



Articles of war

Articles of war

A new exhibition from Bath & North East Somerset Council marking the anniversary of the start of World War One will be filled with the memories and artefacts of residents.

A number of events will be taking place to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War. Bath & North East Somerset Council wants to hear from residents so it can tell the story of the area between 1914 and 1918.

bath war memorialThe free exhibition in Bath will be entirely made up of materials donated by members of the public, be they photographs, newspaper cuttings, or even a verbal story. The exhibition will take place in August.

Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of the Council, said: “We are inviting you, our local residents, to contribute to this forthcoming project by sharing photos, memories and artefacts from the First World War in order to share our collective history. We hope to unearth and bring to light the unique histories of local people who served in uniform and on the home front in 1914-1918.”

There are many stories to be shared. Local people worked in the Somerset Coalfield, the Bath War Hospital and the gunpowder factories at Wellow. There are also the ‘thankful villages’ of Charlcombe, Woolley and Chelwood where all the men who served in the war returned home.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “We hope through this exhibition we can bring together the collective story of Bath and North East Somerset to create an image of what life was like, both urban and rural, for the population of the area during World War One.

“The council welcomes any relevant stories that residents would like to share.”

If you would like to contribute or would like more information, contact exhibition organiser Claire Sharpe by email at or by telephone on 07730 594 345.

Get involved with the Beau Street Hoard

Get involved with the Beau Street Hoard

Discover the heritage of the Beau Street Hoard by taking part in inspiring activities happening at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Roman Baths and a variety of locations.

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 22,000 coins!

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 22,000 coins!

This unique hoard, found on the site of the new Gainsborough Hotel in Beau Street, Bath contains 17,577 Roman silver coins, dated from 32BC – 274AD. In March this year Bath & North East Somerset Council received a £372,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to acquire the coins and from January 2015 they will be on permanent public display in a new interactive exhibit within the Aquae Sulis Gallery at The Roman Baths.

This month marks the official launch of the Beau Street Hoard community engagement programme which will run until July 2015, with many opportunities for everyone to get involved with exciting, coin-related activities.

Cllr Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development said: “We’re pleased to announce a long list of public activities surrounding the Beau Street Hoard, as Bath & North East Somerset Council is keen to give local people lots of opportunities to get close to one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries to have been made in Bath in recent times. Later in the year we will be making further announcements as other events and activities are confirmed.”

On Saturday 17 May the first Beau Street Hoard Roadshow – where we bring the hoard to communities across the region – will take place at The Mead Community Primary School in Trowbridge. A fun-filled day, with opportunities to handle real Roman coins and enjoy hands-on activities, our roadshow events could be happening at a location near you over the next year.

The ‘Glorious Rome’ family drop-in events at The Roman Baths during half-term 26-30 May (10am-1pm & 2pm-4pm) offer opportunities to learn about and handle Bath’s very own coin hoard.

On ‘Money Mondays’ at The Roman Baths from 14 July – 18 August (6pm-8pm) come and explore a range of coins from the collections including Saxon, Viking and Medieval examples.

On Saturday 26 July (6pm-9pm) celebrate The Festival of Archaeology at The Roman Baths with ‘Conservation past, present and future’, where you can meet a professional conservator who will explain and show how the Beau Street Hoard was conserved and cleaned.

As part of the centenary celebrations of the Brownies, The Roman Baths is hosting special Beau Street Hoard sleepovers, with the opportunity to take part in coin-related activities.

If you belong to a local group or organisation that would like a free talk on the Beau Street Hoard and the chance to handle of some of the coins, or you would like to host a roadshow, contact The Roman Baths on 01225 477757.

For up to date details of all Beau Street Hoard events visit, follow @RomanBathsBath on Twitter #BeauStHoard or view Beau St Hoard and event photos on Flickr.

All these events are supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information about Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Roman Baths visit or call 01225 477774.

Time to choose in Keynsham

Time to choose in Keynsham

The people of Keynsham will shortly be able to choose the design of a new clock tower which will have pride of place in the new town centre development.

Keynsham High Street

Keynsham High Street

Three artists have been shortlisted to design the clock tower and their proposals will be on display at exhibitions across the town from April 25.

Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib Dem, Southdown), Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Following the public vote by the people of Keynsham, the clock tower will be in situ by April 2015. The Council is very pleased to support this important addition to the civic centre area, which will form a focus for the town. I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibition of short-listed designs.”

keynshamThe shortlisted artists are sculptor Sebastien Boyesen, metalworker Jon Mills and clock designers/manufacturers, Smith of Derby. All were shortlisted due to their inspirational ideas, their response to the site and a commitment to working with the local community.

Keynsham Town Councillor Lisa O’Brien, Chair of the Keynsham Arts Advisory Group, said: “We are delighted to announce the three artists who have been shortlisted for the Keynsham clock tower commission. Each artist’s proposal will be exhibited at various venues in Keynsham from the end of April into early May. We will be asking for feedback from residents, business owners and frequent visitors to our town and do everything possible to ensure that the voting process is fair and impartial.”

The successful artist will go on to work with the community to finalise details of the design.

The exhibition can be seen at the Pomegranate Café, 19 Temple Street from 25 to 30 April (open 8am to 3pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm on Saturday, and open late from 6pm to 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday).

It then moves next door to the window of Keynsham Town Council from 1 May to 7 May.

Finally it will be at the Key Centre at Keynsham Methodist Church, Charlton Road, from 9 May to 15 May (open 10am to 5pm with a late night on Friday 9 May until 8pm – please note the Key Centre is not open on Sunday). Special talks by the artists will talk place on 9 May and further details to be announced shortly.