Open doors on heritage

Open doors on heritage

Heritage sites – including some run by Bath & North East Somerset Council – will be opening their doors and inviting residents and visitors to explore their unique attractions in mid-September.

A wide range of events and activities will take place in the museums, galleries and heritage sites of Bath and North East Somerset, and at least 20 sites will be opening their doors to the public from Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 September to celebrate Heritage Open Days 2013.

Visitors can see inside a complete Georgian house with restored garden and how it is being used now at No. 4 The Circus, Bath.

Discover what happens to your recycled waste during a guided tour at the May Gurney Recycling Depot in Keynsham and investigate the equipment used in historical spas with the St John’s local history store on the Upper Bristol Road, Bath, and the archaeology store on Pixash Lane, near the Recycling Centre in Keynsham.

Archaeology store in Pixash Lane.

Archaeology store in Pixash Lane.

A wide variety of sites will open across the area providing local residents with access to places they cannot usually explore and giving them the chance to learn more about their local heritage.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Bath & North East Somerset Council is proud to support Heritage Open Days and celebrate our unique places and beautiful surroundings which help create neighbourhoods where people are proud to live.”

Heritage Open Days 2013 includes the opportunity to explore:

  • No 4 The Circus, Bath (Friday 13 September; 10am-12pm & 1pm-3pm):

See inside this beautiful house and restored Georgian garden – the first of its kind in Britain.

  • St John’s Store, Upper Bristol Road, Bath (Saturday 14 September; 11am-3pm):

Marvel at the range of historical spa equipment, read the original Victorian spa treatment visitor’s book and take a seat in a sedan chair. There will also be a trail for children and a special display of postcards as well as furniture by local craftsmen.

  • May Gurney Recycling Depot, Ashmead Lane, Keynsham (Saturday 14 September; 10am-2pm):

Visit behind the scenes to see what happens to your recycling after collection from your home. Discover how Bath & North East Somerset Council’s recycling trucks work and learn about how the items you put in your green boxes, blue bags and food waste containers are sorted for recycling. Guided tours only – places are limited so please book in advance with Council Connect on 01225 394041. This is a working site so visitors must wear sturdy enclosed shoes and bring wet weather clothing.

  • Pixash Lane Archaeology Store, Keynsham (Thursday 12 September, 10am-2pm):
Roman mosaics

Roman mosaics

Explore archaeological finds from Combe Down Stone Mines and Keynsham including the Roman mosaics and Abbey stonework.

Please note that all children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult at these events.

For more details of Heritage Open Days 2013, including listings and the online leaflet please visit Bath & North East Somerset Council’s or pick up a leaflet in your local library.

For the latest up to date news and information from the Council follow its Twitter feed at

For more information about Heritage Open Days visit

Director’s Notes:

  • Heritage Open Days is run locally by a large range of organisations (including civic societies, heritage organisations, and local councils), community champions and thousands of volunteers.
We are still open!

We are still open!

The American Museum at Claverton Down.

The American Museum at Claverton Down.

The American Museum at Claverton Manor is keen to let people know that it is still open – despite the fact that Wessex Water are busy excavating in the area. I have taken the following note from their website which gives details of access. More information available by going to

We are still open!

Wessex Water is currently working on Claverton Hill. In order to undertake this vital work, part of the road has been closed and there is no access to the Museum from the A36 (Warminster Road) up Claverton Hill. Visitors who approach the Museum from the A36 should divert up Brassknocker Hill and along Claverton Down Road. Diversion signs are in place. Visitors to the Museum are still able to approach from the Bath direction, turning right at the University and passing the Bath Cats & Dogs Home.


Victoria Gallery celebrates Scott Centenary

Victoria Gallery celebrates Scott Centenary

A centenary celebration of the Somerset painter William Scott is being held at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Victoria Art Gallery from 7 September to 17 November.

William Scott CBE RA (1913-89) was a key figure in European and American art and is considered one of the most influential British painters of the 20th Century. To mark the centenary of his birth, the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath – Scott’s home city for most of his life – is holding a major loan exhibition.

[Still Life with Candle], 1950

[Still Life with Candle], 1950 National Museum of Wales.

Featuring over 50 paintings, sculptures and drawings, Simplicity and Subject emphasizes Scott’s Somerset connections and highlights the unique exchange in his work between urban and rural life. Scott settled in Somerset in 1941 and lived at Hallatrow and Coleford, working for ten years as Senior Painting Master at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham Court.

Councillor Ben Stevens, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Scott was a local artist, with international significance, and it is our hope that this exhibition – created especially by Bath & North East Somerset Council – will serve to strengthen that message further, and open up his works for a new audience to appreciate.”

Featuring many works not previously seen in public, this unique exhibition covers all phases and themes of Scott’s career, from the nude to landscape, still life and the abstract. In collaboration with the William Scott Foundation, the exhibits will be drawn from major collections across the UK as well as from public bodies including Arts Council England and National Museum of Wales.

William SCOTT Slagheap Landscape 1953 Arts Council Collection

William SCOTT Slagheap Landscape 1953 Arts Council Collection

The Victoria Art Gallery’s relationship with Scott began in the mid-1940s when it exhibited his pictures in the annual Bath Society of Artists exhibitions. In 1984 the Gallery purchased a collage for its collection direct from the artist. This was followed in 2012 by an oil painting, Bottle and Fish Slice, acquired with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Jon Benington, Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery, said: “Drawing inspiration from his own experience of working class life, Scott strove for the utmost simplicity of expression. The result was a unique language that pushed the connections of abstraction and figuration. Befriended and respected by fellow artists of the calibre of Mark Rothko and Patrick Heron, Scott was equally at ease chatting to livestock breeders and ex-miners.”

The exhibition has been guest curated by Professor Mike Tooby of Bath Spa University, who also wrote the main essay for the catalogue. Financially supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, it will be accompanied by a full events programme including film shows, weekly tours and a one-off illustrated, ‘virtual’ talk by the artist – further details to be announced.

The Victoria Art Gallery, near Pulteney Bridge in Bath, is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm and closed on Monday. Admission to the William Scott exhibition (7 September-17 November) is £3.50 (children under 16 free). For more details call 01225 477233, email or visit the Gallery’s website

Public art ‘re-think’ called for

Public art ‘re-think’ called for

Conservative councillors in Keynsham have called for a ‘complete re-think’ over a proposed public art project planned as part of the town centre redevelopment.

They think the Council needs to listen to public feedback and go back to the drawing board on the current proposals.

imagesThe calls come after the results of a public consultation undertaken in August revealed that only a tiny fraction of respondents were supportive of the sculpture’s current design.

Of the 107 responses to the consultation only 14 people said they either liked or really liked the design, with 50 saying they disliked the design and the remaining 43 either unsure or had no strong opinion either way.

In light of the public’s response, Conservative councillors have urged Lib Dem-run B&NES to call a temporary halt to the project and come up with new design options.  They have said the Council should instead concentrate on bringing forward design proposals for a new clock in the town centre.images-1

Keynsham councillor Brian Simmons (Cons, Keynsham North), said:

“It’s clear from the public’s reaction so far and the results of the consultation that the art project’s current design is not popular amongst most residents.

“B&NES needs to listen to this feedback and have a complete rethink of this art project.  They should go back to the drawing board and come back with options taking on board the comments made by the public.

“One of the main things people have said throughout the town centre redevelopment is that they would like to see a new Town Clock to replace the old clock tower.  Rather than spending more money on a controversial art project, the Council should consider putting this towards bringing forward designs for a new clock instead.  If there is money left over, they can then look at an additional art feature as well.”


Director’s Note:

Apparently, the consultation on the proposed design for the public art project was undertaken between the 5th and 16th August 2013, with the designs on display in Keynsham Library and Keynsham Town Council window.

Feedback slips were collected on 19th August 2013. The results of the consultation were as follows:

A total of 107 slips were received of which:

Really Like: 14, neither like nor dislike 13, unsure 30 and dislike 50.

One would suggest that very few of the people of Keynsham actually bothered to have any say over the matter at all.

images-2Why is nothing being done to properly reflect Keynsham’s illustrious past? Roman and mediaeval or why not just restore the word “SOMERDALE” before it disappears completely from the side of the railway embankment.

Book art entries on view

Book art entries on view

The exhibition of entries to the Recycled Book Art Competition opens in Bath Central Library on Wednesday September 11th and is open every day until Tuesday 24th September.

Competition winners are voted for by you, the exhibition visitors, so come along and vote for your favourites.
Don’t forget that you have until the closing date of 31st August to bring your finished piece of recycled Book Art in to Bath Library for display and judging.

To take part you must be a member of a LibrariesWest library and you have to use ex-library books supplied by Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Library Service. Apart from that you are free to remake your book in any way.

Enquiries email:

More information and full terms and conditions are available at:

‘Reporter hit by low flying aircraft.’

‘Reporter hit by low flying aircraft.’

What a fine summer we have generally been enjoying. Reminds me of another – even drier period back in 1976 – the year famous for ‘the Great Drought’.

It had not rained for weeks. The reason why l chose an umbrella for a ‘piece to camera‘ l did down at Weston-super-Mare airfield on the 26th of August that year. The day before an Air Day that l had been sent down by HTV West to preview.

Of course no aircraft had arrived and l was desperate for something to film.
The suggestion was to recreate an aerial ‘hit the bullseye’ competition where light aircraft – carrying flour-bags – would see who could hit the centre of the white cross that had been laid out as a target.

me at htv interior_3This is where l became involved. Why did l need an umbrella? It wasn’t a desperately-needed and imminent break in the drought that l was forecasting.

No – l needed it to stop flour covering me as l was about to stand in as the target for those ‘dough’ bombers.

It was 37 years ago today that l walked out onto the old parched airfield and – as it turned out – diced with death.

Yes – the wing hit me. I became – and still am – the only person to be knocked out by a low-flying aircraft and live to tell the tale.

However, it’s not just the anniversary that l remember but more the fact that they have now started to develop the old airfield and the whole thing will be swallowed up by neat rows of houses and roads.

Here is the link to the interview l did with ITV West Country.

Seems Westonians are being asked to suggest names for the new roads.

Be nice to have a Starfighter Way to remember the old WW2 spotter plane that played out that drama with me.

Last l heard it was still flying over the Forest of Dean. l have had a couple of flights in it since 1976.

My own little bit of history. Here’s the link to YouTube.

Mike Hastie – the cameraman – kept it running. My mother still won’t watch it!

Brown’s Folly

Brown’s Folly

Just returned from Brown’s Folly – an Avon Wildlife Trust managed nature reserve on the Bathford side of the Avon valley.  

Fine views, bat caves and Bath asparagus to look out for.IMG_4550 IMG_4560

Look out for BMX bikes too and – if you do have room in your bag – pick up some of the plastic and coke tins others think it ok to throw down for Nature to deal with?

While on the subject, what is it now with decorating fences and trees with bags of waste materials.

Seems there is a developing trend to pick up your dog’s poo in a plastic bag  then hang it on a tree like a Christmas bauble!

In  the car park – leading to this nature trail – we saw a plastic carrier bag full of rubbish which had been hung up to dry.IMG_4582

Does whoever left it there think someone from the local refuse department will clear it away for them?

IMG_4583Come on folks. Take your rubbish home with you. You consumed the contents and created the empty wrappers  - it is your responsibility to deal with it. While – when it comes to dog poo hanging in trees – you need help!

Clothes secret

Clothes secret

Ok – so the John Lewis rumour was a non-runner. Got a stronger suggestion for who is going to occupy the new-look corner store behind the now boarded up old Habitat facade in New Bond Street.IMG_4501

Seems it’s a London-based ladies fashion houses sticking its first retail toe into the rest of the country and – bless ‘em – starting with Bath.

The window frames – by the way – are being moved forward to between the mock-Georgian doric columns.

The world in miniature

The world in miniature

P1060161It was built as a church school, then used by local artists but now the 3,000 square feet of internal space at Widcombe Old School in Bath houses a unique traditional artisan workshop and studio producing handmade and detailed plaster models of great architectural and historic beauty.

Timothy Richards and his craftsmen have established a style of work for which they are known through Europe and America and produce designs from Ancient Greece to the present day.

There’s a bread and butter element to this business too.  Apart from the Timothy Richards models of Architecture the team also makes – under another company name – plaster statues, busts and models to supply the museum and heritage trade – including items for the Pump Rooms here in Bath.

Jane Austen and Minerva - both popular images at the workshop.

Jane Austen and Minerva – both popular images at the workshop.

Queen Elizabeth the First in rows!

Queen Elizabeth the First in rows!

Other customers include the British Museum, English Heritage and the National Trust.

Their existing range of over 50 pieces includes Egyptian, Roman, famous historic English character busts and Canova lions.

They can quickly develop a range of  casts for any organisation planning special exhibitions – often using casts of existing artefacts.

Timothy is an artist with a varied background in which he made both model and  historic replicas of real boats AND worked as a teacher of arts and crafts.

Unusual book-ends!

Unusual book-ends!

He got into this business  25 years ago after being made redundant twice in a row.

I couldn’t help wondering if these detailed miniatures of real three-dimensional architecture were helping people appreciate things they tend to miss in their busy lives.

Unless we are a tourist – we don’t often stand and really look at buildings.

Consumerism has taught us only to look in the shop window – never above.

The whole building models are fantastic. There is also a range of  more modest houses – like Jane Austen’s in Bath and the William Herschel Museum.

Jane Austen house

Jane Austen house

The team do special commissions for private buyers or presentations and presents.

Timothy is not at liberty to name clients but they would seem to include people in the acting world, religious leaders, politicians and even the world of opera.

I couldn’t resist asking whether a model of Buckingham Palace had ever been asked for.

You can find out more about Timothy and his talented team on

Give a bike a break

Give a bike a break

It’s good to see efforts made – at great expense – to try to dissuade motorists from clogging up city centre streets.


Other cyclists have been forced to chain their bikes to the Guildhall fencing because there is no room on the official stand!

Park and ride sites and the steady spread of the parking meter is doing its job in taking some of the pressure off World Heritage Bath.

However, efforts to persuade us of the value of cycling – in terms of cost and exercise – are slightly thwarted by the less-than-generous provision of bike parking places.

A token parking post outside the Guildhall is constantly occupied by bikes advertising local businesses.

While l appreciate how traders need to try every trick in the book to keep afloat, it does rob genuine cyclists of precious parking spaces. Other bikes are chained to the railings behind as there is no more room on this rack!