New lamps for old.

Plenty of activity in the High Street today where workmen were busy erecting new street lights. Clever of them to install the ground fittings while the new pedestrian paving was being laid.

New LED lamp-post being erected.

New LED lamp-post being erected.

It was a simple matter of lifting a slab and installing the new L.E.D. light. They are more powerful but use less power.

The light source is also directed downwards so reducing light pollution. I am told the old sodium powered beams also interfered with the CCTV cameras. People doing damage or being violent will be easier to recognise.

Anchor points were already installed in new paving!

Anchor points were already installed in new paving!

Now l was under the impression there was some sort of hold on new street lighting while B&NES discusses style and form with interested parties concerned with how the conservation area should look.

Ornate lamp-post outside the Market Hall.

Ornate lamp-post outside the Market Hall.

Some may feel the new lamp-posts should be more like the ornate post outside the Market Hall. At least – being black – it seems to disappear when viewed against buildings like the Abbey. Certainly it is good to know the lamps also incorporating the old Vodafone transmitter is being changed. It is plain ugly!

Now you see it? Now you don't!

Now you see it? Now you don’t!

New paving is going to have to be disturbed for permanent bus-stops and l hear we are getting two shelters which will please those who have to wait some time for their transport home.

The old Vodafone transmitter lamp-post is going to be replaced!

The old Vodafone transmitter lamp-post is going to be replaced!

Not all services are as frequent as the number 18 serving the University.

Kremlin Museums delegation in Bath

A delegation of museum experts from Russia has been learning about Bath’s  heritage attractions as part of a visit designed to forge stronger links with England.

A photograph is enclosed from the visit to the Victoria Art Gallery featuring (left to right): Stephen Bird, Head of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Services; Dr Elena Gagarina, General Director of the Kremlin Museums; and Cllr Rob Appleyard, Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Visiting the Victoria Art Gallery featuring (left to right): Stephen Bird, Head of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Services; Dr Elena Gagarina, General Director of the Kremlin Museums; and Cllr Rob Appleyard, Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council.

The group of 12 senior managers and curators from Russia’s Kremlin Museums is making a study visit to southern England during April to learn more about UK architecture, heritage sites and museum collections.

The visit is also an opportunity for the delegation to consider possible areas of co-operation and mutual interest between the two countries on heritage issues. ‘The Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow’ has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List alongside the ‘City of Bath’.

The Russian delegation was taken around the Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery (managed by the Council), as well as Bath Abbey. They also took in the Georgian architecture on a walking tour of the main elements of the ‘City of Bath’ World Heritage Site – including a visit to the Guildhall Banqueting Room.

The group was welcomed by members of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Service Team and representatives of Bath Abbey, as well as World Heritage Consultant Chris Pound and Michael Rowe from the Friends of the Victoria Art Gallery.

Councillor Cherry Beath (Lib-Dem, Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Bath is one of just 28 UK World Heritage Sites and the nation’s only entire city to achieve this prestigious status.

“We are delighted to welcome the Kremlin delegation to appreciate the delights that Bath continues to offer to millions of visitors each year. It’s important for Bath & North East Somerset Council to help develop such close links with other World Heritage Sites and share best practice in managing these irreplaceable historic areas for the benefit of everyone.”

The delegation is being led by the renowned art historian and General Director of the Kremlin Museums, Dr Elena Gagarina, who said: “We are absolutely delighted to come to the city of Bath. We are very experienced travellers and we like to visit something unexpected, something of special interest, and not just the well-known sites. We are open to new things and new experiences.

“We have received a wonderfully warm reception and we wish the city of Bath good luck, prosperity and lots of visitors!”

For more information about Bath & North East Somerset Council’s heritage attractions visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/heritage or call The Roman Baths on 01225 477774, The Fashion Museum on 01225 477789, The Victoria Art Gallery on 01225 477233 and The Bath Record Office on 01225 477421.

Buskers inside Bath Abbey?

Buskers inside Bath Abbey?

The tower of Bath Abbey.

The tower of Bath Abbey.

Comments recently here on the Virtual Museum site about the exhibition of contemporary art at Bath Abbey. The point was made that every side chapel had been used and that people who wanted peace and quiet and space to pray had nowhere to go.

I think the South Transept could provide a permanent space for art installations and these could be changed on a regular basis. Less may well turn out to be more.

Where l do think the Abbey comes in to its own is with music and song. I recently watched the sun set through those jewel-box stained-glass windows while listening to Bath Symphony Orchestra and the Minerva Choir. A really moving mixture of sound and vision that stirred heart and soul.

Young buskers in Southgate.

Young buskers in Southgate.

I would love the Abbey to explore a more varied musical programme and would like to suggest a special event where some of the young (and old)  musicians who entertain the crowds on the streets of the city, be invited into the church to perform.

A special concert for buskers and a celebration of some real talent. I have seen many a teenager out there braving the weather and the indifference of many a shopper and singing and playing their hearts out. Great talent and a public arena in which young people learn to face the world and stand on their own two feet.

A busker and a didgeridoo!

A busker and a didgeridoo!

What does anyone else think?

Wet and dry

Wet and dry

The stainless steel fountain by St Swithin's Church

The stainless steel fountain by St Swithin’s Church

Good to see the contemporary fountain installation on the corner of Walcot Street and the London Road – by St Swithin’s Church – is displaying a sparking cascade of running water while the sun shines.

The 'dry' fountain in Laura Place.

The ‘dry’ fountain in Laura Place.

A marked contrast with the fountain in Laura Place at the Pulteney Bridge end of Great Pulteney Street. When is something going to happen here? Who owns the arid structure which sprouts weeds rather than spouting water?

Picked up on someone on Twitter suggesting that our bronze street plaques – marking some worthy who had stayed or visited a particular Bath address – should be replaced.

Can you read these any more?

Can you read these any more?

The point was made that the Blue Street Plaque system would work so much better as the bronze name-plates in Bath were dirty and dull and you could not read them.

Should they be replaced with Blue Plaques?

Should they be replaced with Blue Plaques?

Certainly selling the metal might raise enough to have them re-done as Blue Plaques or even green or yellow ones! What does anyone else think?

June 21st re-opening for Number 1

June 21st re-opening for Number 1

Bath Preservation Trust’s No. 1 Royal Crescent will re-open on Friday, June 21st after a closed period of restoration, renovation and reconnection to the original domestic wing.

Bath Preservation Trust's "Georgian House" at Number 1 Royal Crescent.

Bath Preservation Trust’s “Georgian House” at Number 1 Royal Crescent.

The multi-million pound project will double the number of rooms on show from five to ten, provide improved access for disabled visitors, a dedicated education centre and conserve the fabric and the collection.

So far over four million pounds has been raised towards the fundraising target but more donations are needed.

Bath’s Royal Crescent – and No 1, the first house built there – is a spectacular example of elegant 18th century design. It is an iconic masterpiece that has made a major contribution to the city’s UNESCO inscription as a World Heritage site.

No 1 is a magnificent Georgian town house, built between 1767 and 1774 to the designs of architect John Wood the Younger. It’s first resident was Henry Sandford, a wealthy widower and former Irish MP who lived there for 20 years until his death.

As a museum, No 1 attracts over 50,000 people each year who come to view its elegant period decor and furnishings that create a unique picture of private life in Georgian Bath.

On Friday, June 21st a public opening ceremony – aimed primarily at the media – will take place between 10.00 and 11 am with an event that promises to incorporate ‘just a little bit of theatre.’

At 11 am the doors will open to the public who will be entertained in the house by Annie the Georgian Cook and others.

The new opening times are 10.30 am to 5.30 pm Tue – Sun and 12 noon to 5.30 pm on Mondays.

You can find more information about No 1 and the other museums in the Trust’s care at http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk

Reassurances from the  R.U.H. over services at the ‘Min’. While one ex-Governor asks if  ‘patient power’ could help secure it’s future?

Reassurances from the R.U.H. over services at the ‘Min’. While one ex-Governor asks if ‘patient power’ could help secure it’s future?

The future of one of Bath‘s best-loved Georgian buildings is proving a major issue in the city. The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, known as The Min, is set to merge with the Royal United Hospital to create a single foundation trust.

It has been unclear whether services provided by the Min will continue at its current location in Upper Borough Walls or be moved to the RUH site in Weston.

Now though the Chief Executive of the RUH Kirsty Matthews has publicly stated that patients should be reassured the Min is still in business. Although financial pressures had caused the closure of the neuro-rehabilitation service, there was no change  to other core services.

Meanwhile the Georgian originating hospital was launching new services which included a fatigue management service for people who have had cancer, and also a rehabilitation service for people suffering radiation damage as a result of treatment for breast cancer.

She said people would be kept informed as the RUH planned for the future .

The historic building – for which the foundation stone was laid in 1738 – has been under assessment.

John Wood's plan for the hospital.

John Wood’s plan for the hospital.

The first stage of the complex, designed by architect John Wood the Elder, with stone given freely by quarry-owner Ralph Allen and funded with money collected by Beau Nash, was built on the site of an old theatre.

With a personal view of developments and a move to utilise ‘patient power’, 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.

Professor George Odam

Professor George Odam

George was the first Professor of Music to be appointed at Bath Spa University and subsequently was Head of Research at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London – retiring in 2007. He has lived in and around Bath for 45 years and has a keen interest in its history and art.

‘Patients of The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, or the Min, as it is locally and affectionately called, are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of this wonderful hospital.
The Min was one of the very first Foundation Trusts (FT), set up with the guidance of the government quango Monitor, and has remained the smallest of all the FTs. The idea of FTs is to give the hospital complete financial control in order to encourage entrepreneurial thinking and action. But along with this came a hugely exaggerated administration, the cost of which, from the beginning, made the hospital financially unviable.
 
The Min was the very first national hospital, caring for patients with special conditions from all over the UK – ever since it was set up by Act of Parliament in 1739 in the reign of George II. Since then it has specialised in the treatment of rheumatological conditions with the aim of rehabilitating patients as soon as possible, and the historic casebook, in the hospital’s museum, gives precise detail of cases from the very beginning. 
 
In the 1940s, following severe bombing, The Min was rebuilt with energy and vision, spurred on by the determination of Bath’s own Dr George Kersley, who founded the first department of rheumatology and gave the name to this new discipline. The Min survived and has remained in the historic buildings that patients have grown to love so much for their friendliness, charm and lack of normal health institutional atmosphere. 
 
Research has been a king pin of this hospital’s work over the centuries and The Min has more recently become a national centre for research into and treatment of a rare rheumatic condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). Clinicians have worked creatively with physiotherapists and hydrotherapists to evolve a residential course for AS patients. This course has no equivalent anywhere else and thousands of patients from all over the UK and also from other parts of the globe have benefitted from it, often describing it as life-changing. 
 
Now all this and much more of what it does for patients with Chronic Fatigue syndrome, other rheumatological conditions and those with severe and untreatable pain, is at risk. Some 5 years ago Monitor proposed that The Min should merge with the RUH, allowing both hospitals to share administrative work that is otherwise replicated in both. This has been done in other parts of the country where two merged hospitals have formed a new Foundation Trust that allows each to retain its purpose and identity.However the plan evolved with the RUH made no such guarantees. Above all it relied on the RUH gaining Foundation Trust Status. 
 
When it was first mooted the RUH was hugely in debt. This has been addressed, but at what cost can be seen by the latest Care, Quality Commissions (CQC) inspection report last March that failed the RUH on many counts. The CQC inspectors had visited The Min in the same round of visits and passed its work with flying colours. The result has been that the RUH’s application to become a Foundation Trust, on which the merger between the two hospitals is based, has failed this month and its application has been deferred for a year.

In a recent survey by CQC The Min was found to be performing better than most other trusts in the country in seven of the eight categories in the survey, and got the highest score in the overall views and experience and waiting to get a bed on the ward categories. Food served to patients and visitors at the RNHRD has this week received a healthy eating award from Eat Out Well assessed and managed by B&N E S and Sirona Care and Health. The Ralph Allen restaurant at The Min is the first in the region to be awarded in this way. It is open to visitors as well as patients and staff. 

 
So where does this leave patients who need and have come to rely on this excellent quality of care? We have a small, specialist, research-based hospital, without a merger partner, having waited for more than two years for this to happen. In April the full force of the new Health Bill came into effect and fundamentally changed the ways that patients are funded for treatment. The Min has been supported by the Strategic Health Authority and several Primary Care Trusts, but these have now been disbanded. The funding of a national resource has therefore become even more problematic. 
 
It makes no sense in any way to destroy something that has, over many years, proved itself so effective in providing such high quality care based on latest research. It is also significant that Bath remains the only European Spa town without a specialist hydrotherapy hospital. The Min already has a conduit for the hot springs to feed its pool, now unused. 
 
Patients have produced a new support website www.savethemin.org.uk where patients and friends are urged to sign up and to leave messages of support. Patient power is what the government encourages and we need to make our voices heard so that this excellent hospital continues, in its historic buildings in the centre of Bath, to provide the care upon which we rely.’

Bikes, bus-shelters and Brunel.

Great to see all the work coming to an end around the Guildhall where extended paving and a new crossing point has been installed to make life safer and more pleasant for pedestrians. There will be plenty of those with tourist numbers swelling as Bath prepares to welcome its annual high-seasonal flow of visitors.

New bike stands - already being used for advertising!

New bike stands – already being used for advertising!

Amusing to see a token cycle rack presence now installed outside the steps into the Guildhall. Room for four bikes and already one is locked in and acting as an advertising board for a local business.

Cannot blame them for jumping in on such an opportunity but it doesn’t exactly make room for ordinary cyclists.

So where are the permanent bus stops?

So where are the permanent bus stops?

There is still the issue of the temporary bus stops on the High Street and a recently installed lamp standard which is completely out of character with its surroundings.

I take it some of the new paving will be coming up again when permanent bust stops are installed. Are we getting shelters as well? Will they have electronically-operated times of bus arrivals?

Re-adjusting the kerb alongside the bus stops at the new Brunel Square in Dorchester Street.

Re-adjusting the kerb alongside the bus stops at the new Brunel Square in Dorchester Street.

I wonder if they will use shelters like those installed near Bath Spa Railway Station which have been blocked off for months.

I heard the kerb was the wrong height for buses to park alongside so edging stones are having to be re-laid. It was a matter of centimetres!

Bridge Street is now free of containers!

Bridge Street is now free of containers!

Nice to see the pile of containers has been removed from the side entrance to the Victoria Art Gallery – on the approach to Pulteney Bridge.

The grounds staff at the Holburne Museum have now laid new grass seed in their rear gardens where last winter’s light show – and the wet weather –  took its toll on the lawn. Massive ground spiking too!

Preparing the ground for re-seeding at the Holburne Museum.

Preparing the ground for re-seeding at the Holburne Museum.

I despair of Network Rail doing anything about the graffiti affecting the stone rail bridges over the Great Western line through Sydney Gardens.

The vandalism continues to grow. Brunel must be turning in his grave.

Vandals continue to attack the rail bridges in Sydney Gardens.

Vandals continue to attack the rail bridges in Sydney Gardens.

I notice people are also using the arches at the sides of the daubed bridges to sleep in. Shame on you Bath!