Into the parlour

Into the parlour

Bath GuildhallJust a quick reminder that this week is Heritage Open Week and the Mayor’s Parlour at the Guildhall on Bath’s High Street is open to the public between 11am and 4pm.

Mayoral robes.

Mayoral robes.

There’s no charge and a chance for the children to have some dressing up fun.

There are civic maces, mayoral robes, golden chains of office, royal charters, silverware and royal seals.

Civic maces in the Mayor's Parlour.

Civic maces in the Mayor’s Parlour.

It’s a treasure chest of local history and heritage with volunteers on hand to explain everything.

Be proud of your city.

It’s free!

Road tax for cyclists?

Road tax for cyclists?

Good to know that work by Bath & North East Somerset Council on a new route to improve access from Bathampton and Batheaston to Bath city centre for walkers and people who ride bicycles has started.

The route also provides an alternative to the busy London Road for cyclists travelling to and from that direction.

The £910,000 investment in the new route will allow people to travel to and beyond the existing footpath which currently leads to the A46 to Grosvenor Bridge East, Bath.

The new path will be between the centre of Batheaston and the National Cycle Network 4 consisting of a bridge across the River Avon and a 3 metre wide path following the river across Council owned fields to link to Mill Lane, to Bathampton to join the NCN 4 on the Kennet and Avon canal towpath. Most of the work will be completed this year, with the remainder completed in early 2014.

The money for the project comes from a combination of Council funds and the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and Council that is being used locally to promote the use of key cycling and public transport routes, work with local businesses to develop travel plans to encourage sustainable staff travel, and a better network of cycle parking at businesses.kennet and avon

Such a shame the Council couldn’t find monies to join with the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust to improve the surface of the towpath from the George Inn at Bathampton and into town.

It is deeply rutted with lakes of water forming when it rains. There is no proper drainage and pedestrians – picking their way around puddles – are put at further risk from cyclists bearing down on them – some at great speed and many without bells.

There is room on much of the towpath to properly segregate bikes and people. I am a cyclist and find it frustrating that while people will spend a fortune on carbon framed bikes and full lycra gear with special cycling shoes and the latest camera-carrying helmet – they won’t spend a couple of pounds on a bell.

kennet and avon canalMaybe it is time to set speed limits and make it illegal not to have a bell! Maybe even a road tax for cyclists? Certainly everyone should be made to pass a road test.

What do you Virtual Museum fans think?

 

If l could turn back time

If l could turn back time

Bath Abbey

Waiting for a number 7 bus – and counting the machine-gun repetitiveness of the number 18’s as they follow each other through town – l happened to hear the Abbey clock bell strike two at 3 o’clock!

Let me explain.

While the hands on the dial were at 3 the time being struck was 2pm. Does this mean only part of the mechanism – the only part of Bath Abbey – belonging directly to B&NES – has not been turned back an hour as British Summer Time comes to an end.bath christmas lights

I have seen this clock playing up several times before and l have only lived here for a year and a half! Get a move on guys because Christmas is coming. Up and down the town centre the lights are going up!bath christmas lights

Good to see we are saving a bit of money by making do with last year’s baubles. They did look very nice.

bath christmas lightsBath’s very own Queen of the kitchen and co-starring judge – with Paul Hollywood – of BBC 2’s Great British Bake Off – Mary Berry will be doing the honours and pulling the switch on Tuesday, November 12th.

It’ll be set up at the city centre end of Milsom Street.

BBC Points West’s Imogen Sellers will compere an evening of entertainment starting at 5.30pm and all in support of the RUH Forever Friends Appeal. The event is organised by Bath Business Improvement District.

Keynsham mosaics on the move.

Keynsham mosaics on the move.

 

The Keynsham Millennium Mosaics have been relocated and renovated following an agreement between Bath & North East Somerset Council and Keynsham Town Council.

Plan of Keynsham Memorial Park.

Plan of Keynsham Memorial Park.

The mosaics were created by a community group at the turn of the century to celebrate important milestones over the past 100 years of the town. They were previously displayed in the Town Centre prior to the regeneration project starting. The mosaics are now relocated around Keynsham Memorial Park.

A more recent mosaic from the mosaic trail in the Memorial Park.

A more recent mosaic from the mosaic trail in the Memorial Park.

The Town Council has now agreed to adopt the Mosaics.  The Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Councillor Neil Butters, met with the Chairman of Keynsham Town Council, Councillor Gill Hellier to receive a peppercorn payment for the transfer of the Mosaics.

The mosaics have been cleaned and renovated by the original artist Roz Wates and moved by Willmott Dixon – the Council’s town centre regeneration contractors. They depict:

*       Keynsham in Roman Timeskeynsham mosaic
*       Legend of St Keyna
*       The Hanging Tree
*       Keynsham in Wartime 1939 – 1945
*       The Great Storm of 1968
*       Fry’s and Cadbury
*       Millennium
*       Freeman of the town (Marcus Trescothick)

keynsham mosaicCouncillor Neil Butters, Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said, “We are very pleased to handover the mosaics to the Town Council which symbolise the new millennium. There are great changes taking place in Keynsham town centre and both councils will be really pleased to have found a place for these symbols of history.”

Councillor Gill Hellier, Chairman of Keynsham Town Council, said, “We are pleased that a number of the mosaics, which were created by the community for the Millennium, have been repaired and are on display in Keynsham Memorial park; these have  been handed over to the Town Council for safe keeping. The Keynsham in Bloom committee will play an active role in maintaining them.

We hope that in future there may be opportunities to replace those that were permanently damaged.”

Elementary my dear Mr Crest!

Elementary my dear Mr Crest!

The 1908 Stothert and Pitt steam crane at Western Riverside

The 1908 Stothert and Pitt steam crane at Western Riverside

Down on what was the industrialised western bank of the River Avon – as it slipped out of Georgian Bath on its way to Bristol and the sea – the biggest residential redevelopment since the Woods – father and son – brought 18th century Palladian architecture into this spa city – is taking place.

Crest Nicholson are transforming a huge area that made up much of the city’s industrial past. In its centre the three towering circular tanks used to store the home-produced gas that lit the streets and warmed the houses of this expanding city.

The last gasometer - due to come down in 2014.

The last gasometer – due to come down in 2014.

There was engineering with crane makers Stothert and Pitt, brick and furniture making, printing, textiles, and even chemical and  car manufacturing.

All is gradually disappearing under contemporary blocks with clean lines and the attraction of contemporary living but the developers have been keen to carry some history and heritage into the future and often in the most subtle of ways.

The 'regeneration' of the riverside.

The ‘regeneration’ of the riverside.

They have appointed artists with a brief to acknowledge the industrial history of the location and help give its transformation a sense of place for those who come to live on the banks of a newly acknowledged River Avon.

This landscaped area is also a flood plain for the River Avon!

This landscaped area is also a flood plain for the River Avon!

Even flood control measures have been built into the landscape – helping to reconnect Bathonians with their central waterway which is increasingly being looked at for leisure and not just as a drainage system for flood waters.

Elements has been chosen as a theme for the incorporation of all types of art on the site and in lots of different ways. It is inspired by the old gas works which was one of the first in the world and one that generated a chemical industry from its waste products.

Contemporary living  with an artistic twist.

Contemporary living with an artistic twist.

Crest say the theme was inspired ‘ by the history of chemical production that arose on the western riverside site from the introduction of gas power to Bath, the sustainable concerns of Crest Nicholson for the environment and the combination of architectural, landscape and art components. Elements embraces the historical depth and the significance of the location.’

This is a big construction company making  big impact on the landscape. Peter Dickinson who heads up the artistic input has lived in the city with his family for nearly 20 years. He says he is drawing on his experiences as an artist and family man for what is being planned on Western Riverside.

The Virtual Museum has been talking with him.

Find out more about the artistic input on Western Riverside and how you might get involved  via www.crestnicholsonarts.co.uk You find out more about Peter Dickinson via  www.monkeybusinessarts.co.uk

Bath ashamed of its past?

Bath ashamed of its past?

Bath gets taken to task for being ashamed of its industrial past in a letter from B&NES Heritage Champion Cllr Bryan Chalker published in today’s Bath Chronicle.

The Newark Works - former home of Stothert and Pitt

The Newark Works – former home of Stothert and Pitt

The Newark Works

The Newark Works

Cllr Chalker says, while he is enthusiastic about proposals for the development of the South Quays area and its role in regenerating the River Avon, he remains concerned about the future of the Grade 11 listed Newark Works – Stothert and Pitt’s former flagship building and whether its importance as  a ‘vital part’ of Bath’s industrial heritage is being considered.

He continued: ‘ To some the neglected factory/office complex is a mouldering Victorian eyesore but to others it merits sympathetic restoration and conversion into a Museum of Bath, with theatre, workshops, retail outlets and moorings for historic river craft.’

Cllr Chalker also thought it sad that there wasn’t a commemorative plaque on the Newark Works to mark its importance to Bath.

Cllr Bryan Chalker

Cllr Bryan Chalker

‘People tend to forget that Stothert and Pitt produced its legendary cranes here, including the eight electric deck cargo cranes for the Titanic and others for the Lusitania, Mauritania and Olympic. It’s also likely that the world-famous Bath company also made boilers for the ill-fated RMS Titanic.’

A second plaque, he suggests, should go up at the new Southgate development to mark the birthplace of Edwina Celia Troutt who sailed on the Titanic and survived its sinking to live to be 100.

The 1908 steam crane at Western Riverside

The 1908 steam crane at Western Riverside

‘Edwina was born in Bath on June 8th, 1884 and her address was given as Newark Street.’

A final reminder of the importance of the former works, says Cllr Chalker, is the 1908 rail-mounted steam crane now on permanent display at Western Riverside but built there four years before the Titanic was launched.

‘Why is Bath so ashamed of its industrial past,’ he asks.

I never knew that!

I never knew that!

Local communities were today invited to find out more about the local area with a new online service run by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Entrance to The Guildhall

Entrance to The Guildhall

Thousands of stats are available at the click of a button to raise awareness and understanding on a wide range of issues. It is the single most comprehensive source of research, facts and figures about Bath and North East Somerset available.

*       Residents of Bath and North East Somerset are some of the happiest in the country?

*       15% of residents rent their homes privately, 5% more than in 2001?

*       Rates of teenage pregnancy are the lowest in the South West?

This new process is called Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and is a new requirement placed on Council’s by the government.

Councillor Simon Allen (Lib-Dem, Radstock), Cabinet Member for Wellbeing said, “Good evidence should be at the heart of our decision making and we want to share what we know about the local area. We hope it will be a useful resource for people applying for funding and trying to get things done in their local community.

“However, we don’t know everything and it is particularly important that the voluntary organisations and local community groups tell us what they know because they often have the best understanding of what their community needs.”

Dr Bruce Laurence, Director for Public Health, added, “This information is already being used by the Council, the local NHS and other agencies to understand local needs and design services that meet local challenges. By identifying priority groups or communities who are experiencing poor health and wellbeing we can design or re-design our services to reduce these inequalities.”

To access this information, visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/jsna<http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/jsna> and if you have information the council should know, contact the Research team on research@bathnes.gov.uk<mailto:research@bathnes.gov.uk>

A man of letters!

A man of letters!

Mark Holland busy restoring the Sydney Place incised sign.

Mark Holland busy restoring the Sydney Place incised sign.

A perfect day for painting and thankfully no wind to knock the arm of Mark Holland as he carefully fills in the incised letters originally cut by the Georgian builders of Sydney Place.

It is across the road from Sydney Gardens – and contains the house in which Jane Austen lived for some time.

The work in restoring signs like this comes under the World Heritage Site Enhancement Fund which was established in 2009 as a partnership between the World Heritage Site Steering Group, Bath and North East Somerset Council and Bath Preservation Trust.

Memorial slab on the move!

Memorial slab on the move!

Further into town and more memorial slabs on the move as workmen from Emery Brothers the builders continue reinstating the ledger stones on the north side of the nave of Bath Abbey.

Looking across from Bishop Montague's tomb.

Looking across from Bishop Montague’s tomb.

Part of the site has now been re-opened to view and Bishop Montague’s tomb is once more re-united with its memorial floor alongside.

bath abbey

The restored flooring.

People are asked not to walk on the  restored surface as the joints still have to be grouted.

the corridor

Work to the entrance of The Corridor

Looks like some restoration work is getting underway around the entrance to The Corridor – an early shopping mall built in 1825 – and leading off the High Street.

cheap street

More bollards for Cheap Street

While it is good to see large vehicles trying to get down Cheap Street from the High Street are going to be further restricted by another line of bollards in the process of being installed. It will provide even greater protection here for cyclists and pedestrians.

 

The art of saying ‘I do!’

The art of saying ‘I do!’

Couples can now have a picture perfect wedding at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Victoria Art Gallery.

The Gallery, near Pulteney Bridge in Bath, has been granted a licence to host weddings and civil partnership ceremonies amongst its breath-taking backdrop of classic and modern art.

 

The new look upper gallery at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. May 4th 2012. Photographer Freia Turland e:info@ftphotography.co.uk m:07875514528

The new look upper gallery at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. May 4th 2012. Photographer Freia Turland e:info@ftphotography.co.uk m:07875514528

Couples can say “I do” surrounded by wonderful works of art including originals by Gainsborough, Klee and Vlaminck and a fabulous collection of jewel-like coloured wine glasses. The romantic High Victorian setting of the Upper Gallery was once described by Anthony Green RA as “perfect for courting couples.”

This unique setting is available for such occasions when the Victoria Art Gallery is normally closed to the public: Tuesdays to Sundays; 6pm-10pm and Mondays; 10am-10pm.

On arrival at the Gallery guests can be greeted with drinks in the Rotunda at the top of the grand staircase, before they proceed to the beautifully displayed Upper Gallery for the happy event. Afterwards, you can enjoy a drinks reception for up to 100 people at the Gallery and book into the nearby Pump Room for a celebratory meal or dinner dance.

The Rotunda at the top of the staircase.

The Rotunda at the top of the staircase.

Cllr Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “In association with Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Registrars, we’re delighted to make the Victoria Art Gallery available for weddings and civil partnerships for the first time in its 113-year history.

With such beautifully plush Victorian architecture and furnishings, complemented by vast array of outstanding works of art – both vintage and modern – it truly is an exquisite way to celebrate your big day in style!”

Anyone wishing to enquire about booking the Victoria Art Gallery for their wedding or civil partnership ceremony can call 01225 477782, email bath_venues@bathnes.co.uk or find out more at www.bathvenues.co.uk.

 

The ‘Lido lads’

The ‘Lido lads’

georgian lido

The Cleveland Pools

A unique riverside ‘chunk’ of Bath’s historic past is currently doing its bit to help two local schoolboys with their immediate futures!

As part of the city’s Open Heritage Week – which runs during the half-term holidays – the Cleveland Pools Trust is holding an Open Day at the site of the UK’s last remaining open-air Georgian lido.

It’s an historic gem that members want to see restored and used again by the people of Bath, and these two Year 10 youngsters from St Gregory’s School on Odd Down have been helping to publicise the special day and organise events.

Fin and Dec

Fin and Dec

Finbar Donovan-Murphy – who is 15 – and Declan O’Donoghue – aged 14 – got in touch with the Trust to see if it would help them with part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme activities.

The boys have designed a promotional flyer to email to parent/teacher associations around the city and are spreading the news of the open day at their own school and amongst their families and friends.

I caught up with the boys at the Cleveland Pools for a chat about their work.

We had better make it clear that any ‘swimming’ will have to wait until the Pools have been restored! Let us also hope that will not be too many years away. You can find the Cleveland Pools at the end of Beckford Gardens which is off the A36 on the Bathwick Estate. The entrance is between Hamptons and Cleveland Rows. The Pools are only a fifteen minute walk from The Podium car park in the town centre.

Dec and Fin with Sally Helvey from the Cleveland Pools Trust

Dec and Fin with Sally Helvey from the Cleveland Pools Trust

georgian lido

The Cleveland Pools

If you bring a car you are asked to park it around Sydney Gardens and flat shoes are advised as the path and steps are steep. Children MUST be accompanied by adults.

You are invited to help build a bonfire, do some origami – making boats and lilies for you to float in the fountain  – with rubber ring throwing and other ‘nifty’ little games.

More information about the Trust on www.clevelandpools.org.uk

You can also find out more about other events around Bath and North East Somerset during Heritage Open Week via www.bathnes.gov.uk/openweek