Autumn comes for a Hornbeam.

Autumn comes for a Hornbeam.

Workmen in Queen Square continue to lay an improved and newly surfaced pathway around Queen Square. This popular tree-studded mini-park in the middle of a traffic (square) roundabout is currently fenced off while B&NES lavishes £100,000 upon its refurbishment.

Money to pay for new pathways and lawns, improved areas for Petanque, new benches and restored entrance gateways on the east and west sides.

The threatened tree still standing as work goes on around it.

The threatened tree still standing as work goes on around it.

l have mentioned before the only real casualty of this renovation is a European ‘Fastigiata’ hornbeam which is going to be felled.

B&NES say the loss of this one tree will be made good.

A Council spokesman has now told me : ‘By removing the tree and opening the side gates, the upper area of the square will be lighter, more attractive and better used by the public which will improve vision, public surveillance and policing of the area.

Its removal will also provide more space for events in the park (such as the very successful Petanque event).’

Followers of this Museum will know we have frequently covered the effects of anti social behaviour in the Square and featured the damage that has been done.

It would appear that the same dog has been seen causing serious damage to the bark of many of the trees in Queen Square. The Council tried wrapping fencing around the trunks but this has not deterred the vandalism.

Recent evidence of damage to a tree in Queen Square.

Recent evidence of damage to a tree in Queen Square.

It is understood some form of dog repellent paint will now be tried but the Council spokesman added:

‘We are also exploring a range of options for protecting the tree stock in Queen Square from anti-social behaviour and are keen to develop a permanent solution to this problem as soon as possible.’

One person who will be happy to see a permanent solution to the issue of tree damage is local resident Terry Basson who plays Petanque in Queen Square.

I asked him for his opinion regarding the threatened tree.

Terry said its removal would certainly bring some light to this shaded corner.

‘I think they want to do this because  of the drunks who sit in the darker end hiding away.  This part of the park is mostly in shadow.’

Terry Basson

Terry Basson

Terry has campaigned now for months to get proper fencing erected around each tree in the Square.

‘I would sacrifice one tree if l thought they (B&NES) were going to properly protect the remainder.’

Meanwhile despite signs warning of a £100 fine for letting your dog off the lead this person appears to return frequently and more damage is being done.

I am hearing stories of organised dog fights in the Bath area and it would seem that chewing bark is a good way of strengthening the animal’s jaws.

Why, l wonder do they not ban dogs altogether from this tiny area and maybe even lock the gates at night – as is done at Parade Gardens?

Certainly proper fencing is needed around each tree.

As to the list of reasons for felling the tree, the opening of side gates has nothing to do with letting the tree stay or go. The square used to have a gate on each side.

Of course, originally John Wood did not design this area to be softened and secluded by trees and surrounded by fences and gates. It was a giant promenading space where Bath’s parading spa visitors could deliberately show off and be seen.

Q and Nash's Ray c.1740-1770 by Thomas Robins © Bath in Time

Queen Square and Nash’s Ray c.1740-1770 by Thomas Robins © Bath in Time

The original 70 foot hight obelisk was surrounded by a lovely pool of reflecting water. Bath’s own mini Washington Monument.

We use the area for a different purpose today. It’s a green island in a sea of traffic.

As to opening up the surrounding Georgian architecture l think people are attracted by the fact the Square is screened and shaded and an oasis from reality.

A view of the transforming Queen Square from the first floor of the BRSLI.

A view of the transforming Queen Square from the first floor of the BRSLI.

Every tree affects the grass beneath it.

Go into Abbey Green and see how each year they turf underneath the giant plane tree and then we watch the grass die and be replaced again.

Don’t waste your money B&NES.

I have already called for some sort of Friends of Queen Square.

It would be good to work on something that might make the people who live and work around this historic site more aware of what is in their midst and, hopefully, want to care more about its future.

I am sure B&NES would love some sort of trust to take over its long-term care. More taxpayer’s cash saved!

In the meantime – returning to the tree facing the axe – how ironic that in this city so proud of its classical past, it would seem the wood from the European Hornbeam is so solid it was reportedly used by the ancient Romans to make chariots, as well as being used by the American pioneers to make yokes for their oxen.

Maybe the timber from this tree – whose only ‘sin’ is being planted in the ‘wrong’ place – could be kept for a useful purpose and used as a memorial to the fact this healthy specimen had to make way for Petanque, ‘peep views’ and surveillance – though by whom exactly l am not sure.

There is no escape. If it’s not dog teeth it’s the teeth of a powered saw that is going to end the life of this particular Queen Square tree. This is one ‘Fall’ it won’t recover from.



Victoria Bridge fully back in action by mid December!

Victoria Bridge fully back in action by mid December!

victoria bridge

A new approach being created for the refurbished Victoria Bridge. Click on images to enlarge.


Some welcome news for people waiting to hear what the  official opening date for the refurbished Victoria Bridge will be.

Bath’s own suspension bridge across the River Avon was built by local engineer  James Dredge. It opened in 1836 to provide transport access to his brewery and currently it has been undergoing a major refurbishment to ensure a safe and sound future.

The leader of B&NES Council, Cllr Paul Crossley tells me : ‘Victoria bridge will reopen on the 1st December following the successful removal of the Mabey truss.

This will be a partial width opening to allow pedestrian and cycle access but works to the balustrades on each side will continue.

The contract completion to finish all works is the 17th December.’

Victoria Bridge nearing its official  refurbished completion.

Victoria Bridge nearing its official refurbished completion.

Cllr Paul Crossley Leader, B&NES

Cllr Paul Crossley
Leader, B&NES

I think most people will agree the contractors have made a good job of renovating this unusual structure too.

The bridge has been given a new lease of life and is now a central feature for the riverside residential development going on alongside it.

It also brings back a much-needed cross-city link for cyclists and becomes an attraction in its own right for those being encouraged to use the new riverside pathway that passes beneath it on the former industrial side of the river.

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.

Christmas with the classics at American Museum

Christmas with the classics at American Museum

Last year's gigantic Christmas tree

Last year’s gigantic Christmas tree

The American Museum in Britain at Claverton Manor in Bath re-opens tomorrow at noon for its bumper Christmas season. Tonight friends and helpers get a preview of this year’s festive theme.

It’s quite an undertaking for Collections Manager Kate Herbert who has to come up with a different seasonal spin for the museum’s 12 period rooms.

She’s plumped for a celebration of American literature so each room will illustrate a scene from popular fiction – set in America.

Stand by for everything from Washington Irving’s The Legend Of Sleep Hollow to Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone With The Wind.

This week-end – November 22-23 – it’s also the annual Christmas Craft Fair from 12 noon to 4.30 pm. More information via

Magic night of lanterns and light.

Magic night of lanterns and light.

lantern procession 2014Hundreds of people have taken part in what surely must be the biggest lanternlantern procession 2014 procession through Bath that the Holburne Museum has got together in the eight years this magical event has been running.

Hundreds more lined the streets to experience a night of lanterns, lights and music.

This year’s theme was On the High Seas and there was an assortment of things big and small – from jelly fish and minnows to submarines, galleons and even an elephant!

Virtual Museum fans can watch some of the event by clicking on the link below.


What future for Bath museums?

What future for Bath museums?

Bath & North East Somerset Council is developing Forward Plans for two of Bath’s most important museums – the Victoria Art Gallery and the Roman Baths.

The Roman Baths.

The Roman Baths.

Bath's Victoria Art Gallery.

Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery.

The Forward Plans are required to enable both museums to re-apply for Arts Council England accreditation.

This is the Government’s scheme which shows that museums meet acceptable standards of governance, collections care, financial sustainability and public services.

Members of the public are invited to attend a consultation event about the plans at which they can hear about proposals and contribute their thoughts and ideas.

The event will take place at the Victoria Art Gallery on Wednesday 26 November from 6pm – 7.30pm.

When completed, the forward plans will provide a blueprint for work and development over the next three years.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “I hope local people will take this opportunity to hear about and contribute to thinking and ideas for the future of the Victoria Art Gallery and the Roman Baths. It promises to be a good evening.”

City gallery to hang ‘masterpiece’

City gallery to hang ‘masterpiece’

A touch of Venice is coming to Bath. The city’s Victoria Art Gallery is to host one of the world’s most famous masterpieces – Canaletto’s ‘A Regatta on the Grand Canal’ from March to May 2015.

'A Regatta on the Grand Canal' by Canaletto. © National Gallery

‘A Regatta on the Grand Canal’ by Canaletto.
© National Gallery

The much-loved work is on tour from the National Gallery Collection in London and is travelling around the UK as the second painting in the three-year Masterpiece Tour.

The Victoria Art Gallery in Bath will be the first host venue for the masterpiece from 7 March to 3 May 2015 before it journeys on to Compton Verney in Warwickshire and Sunderland Museums and Winter Gardens.

Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath has been selected to host Canaletto’s A Regatta on the Grand Canal as part of the Masterpiece Tour programme.

“18th century Bath was a popular tourist destination, with its hot spring water and fashionable architecture. Just like in Canaletto’s Venice, wealthy visitors were enthusiastic purchasers of paintings and prints of the city as reminders of their travels. The Victoria Art Gallery will be displaying a selection of Bath views alongside Regatta on the Grand Canal, looking at Canaletto’s influence on British art and the 18th century enthusiasm for view painting.”

The Masterpiece Tour is part of the National Gallery’s commitment to promote the understanding, knowledge and appreciation of Old Master paintings to as wide an audience as possible. This opportunity to bring hugely popular National Gallery paintings to the public’s doorstep is being made possible by the generous support of Christie’s.

The Victoria Art Gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and on Sunday from 1.30pm to 5pm. It is closed on Mondays and Bank Holidays.

Bath’s ups and downers!

Bath’s ups and downers!


Abbey Courtyard always gets a little crowded at this time of the year.

Abbey Courtyard always gets a little crowded at this time of the year.

In Bath the wooden huts are going up ready for this years Christmas Market which opens its chalet doors from November 27th through to December 14th.

There will be 170 decorated wooden ‘chalets’ around Bath Abbey and into Bath, York and Stall Streets.

It’s a big annual draw for bringing extra festival custom to the city and a great way for those renting space to make some money before what for many is a quieter trading period in their financial year.

The gas holder that is gradually now losing its place on the Bath skyline.

The gas holder that is gradually now losing its place on the Bath skyline.

Further down river, the city’s remaining gas holder is loosing its grip on the skyline – and being brought down.

It had been the last great industrial structure and a reminder that not everyone in this city was busy spending money and indulging themselves in gentile Georgian and Victorian society.

Many Bathonians had to earn a living in grease and smoke filled factories too.

Art installation or crossing point?

Art installation or crossing point?

Meanwhile – looking to the future – work on the London Road improvement scheme continues apace!

Shoulder to shoulder with the traffic.

Shoulder to shoulder with the traffic.

As you can see things have reached an interesting stage.

Currently pedestrians walk on the road and people stop to admire the art-like installations that are maintaining interest in this magnificent and lengthy project.

l love the word IRONIC>