Bath may have to live with flooding.

Bath may have to live with flooding.

Bath is going to have its own ‘Cobra-styled’ body to formulate strategy on how the city must learn to live and deal with future flooding.

Flooded footpath.

Flooded foothpath.

The Virtual Museum has been told it will be called ‘The Strategy River Group’ and involve the River Regeneration Trust, Wessex Water, the Canal and River Trust, the Environment Agency and B&NES.

It’s due to have a city-centre HQ too and will shortly be taking over the old Boat House by Pulteney Weir.

Cllr Dave Laming River Champion for B&NES

Cllr Dave Laming
River Champion for B&NES

In an exclusive interview Trust member and councillor Dave Laming explained how it was impossible to stop flooding but better to work out how to manage it.

He also revealed exciting plans for the River Avon through the centre of Bath.

Cllr Laming is River Champion for B&NES and keen to support the Regeneration Trust in opening up the river corridor and reconnecting it with local people.

Two-way cycle lane for London Road?

Two-way cycle lane for London Road?

Four local organisations have joined forces to come up with a plan to introduce a segregated two-way cycle lane for Bath’s congested London Road which, they say, will help regenerate the area.

A distant van blocks the very poor cycleway provision on the London Road

A distant van blocks the very poor cycleway provision on the London Road

Roger Houghton – from Transition Bath – says: ‘ This has been designed to complement and, where possible, improve on the Gateway Group design. Almost the entire length of the proposed cycle track uses space reclaimed from the carriageway rather than the footway. Despite this there will be no net loss of parking spaces.

The scheme is believed to satisfy the technical requirements of Manual for Streets 1 and 2. It is the only one of the four schemes under consideration by B&NES that would provide a safe cycle route in both directs and comply with its own targets for increasing cycle numbers for all ages from 8 to 80.

It will also contribute to improving air quality along the route, improve access to and from the centre for local residents and attract additional business for the area’s retailers.’

‘However,’ says Roger, ‘its adoption will require a willingness by B&NES to look to best practice elsewhere for ideas that can revive this neglected area of the city.’

The proposal is the work of Bath Cycling Club, Cyclebath, Transition Bath and Transition Larkhall. You can view it on http://www.thebath.net/londonroad and download copies at http://www.thebath.net/pdfs/NewLondonRoad.pdf

Pump Room ‘trio’

Pump Room ‘trio’

The Pump Room is currently under cover!

The Pump Room is currently under cover!

Anyone passing through the centre of Bath cannot fail to notice how the historic Pump Room and Roman Baths complex has disappeared behind a web of scaffolding.

Turns out – there are three different tasks underway – it’s not only essential repair and conservation work but putting in place a whole new walkway experience for people who take a tour of the Roman Bath’s from April onwards this year.

The Virtual Museum has been talking to Stephen Bird – who is the Head of Heritage Services for B&NES.

It’s an interview done in a crowded street and between gusty showers!

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Honouring the suffragettes

Honouring the suffragettes

I have been for a walk in Royal Victoria Park with a woman well-known for her love of Bath and its history and heritage.  Audrey Woods is happy to share her enthusiasm too –  and she does with hundreds of visitors to the city each year.

Audrey has just been given a long-service award for forty years of volunteering as a member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides – an organisation – currently celebrating its 80th anniversary – that operates twice-daily tours of the city. It’s a popular attraction  – maybe because its free – but every tour is unique with each guide adding their own knowledge and personality to what people see and hear on a two-hour gentle walk around the city.

Audrey beside the pine planted in Royal Victoria Park in 2011 to commemorate the suffragettes at Eagle House.

Audrey beside the pine planted in Royal Victoria Park in 2011 to commemorate the suffragettes at Eagle House.

Of course Bath is about people as well as Georgian buildings and Roman remains. The tours Audrey helps give will often involve pointing out some of the many brass plaques above doorways which indicate where some of the big names of history may have lived or visited.  

Now she’s determined to get proper recognition for a whole group of  early 20th century visitors who helped make history –  by standing up and fighting for their rights.

We’re talking about the Suffragette Movement which campaigned for votes for women in the years leading up to the First World War.

Bath was not a major centre of protest and had little of the activist displays seen in London and other cities but it did play its part in helping some of the women involved in this fight for equal voting rights.

Just how – l will explain in greater detail in just a moment. First let’s find out why Audrey had taken me to Royal Victoria Park and to a particular young pine sapling planted there in commemoration of the suffragettes three years ago.

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The Blathwayt family Audrey refers to lived at Eagle House in Batheaston and offered their home to suffragettes who wanted to recuperate from the harsh treatment they received when imprisoned for their political activism in support of votes for women. Many of them were force-fed when on hunger strike to protest against their conditions.

Suffragettes Adela Pankhurst, Kitty and Annie Kenney 1910 © Bath in Time

Suffragettes Adela Pankhurst, Kitty and Annie Kenney 1910 © Bath in Time.
Click on images to access original print.

At Eagle House the suffragettes were encouraged to plant a tree in the grounds. There were 60 planted and they flourished in the care of Mrs Blathwayt who also underplanted them with flowers and shrubs in the colours of the Suffragette Movement.

These colours are purple for dignity, white for purity and green for hope. It is – apparently – a myth that green meant GIVE , white WOMEN and violet VOTES.

This historic arboretum made way for a housing estate in 1960 – although one towering Austrian Pine does remain.

A view of the arboretum at Eagle House 1909. © Bath in Time

A view of the arboretum at Eagle House 1909.
© Bath in Time

B&NES Councillor and Heritage Champion Bryan Chalker – having found out about the story – arranged (with others) to have three new trees planted to commemorate the suffragettes at Eagle House. They were planted in Alice Park, Royal Victoria Park and Bath Spa University. The plantings took place in March 2011.

He has now been alerted about the lack of a Royal Victoria Park plaque and accompanying commemorative plantings and l will let you know what transpires from here.

 

Armour-plated bathing

Armour-plated bathing

The Cross Bath

The Cross Bath

Now l have seen it all. Peering through the grill at the Cross Bath – opposite the Thermae Spa – a Roman centurion in full armour climbing out of the steaming thermal waters!

The ‘sparks’ (electrician) – on duty with a lamp outside – told me they were were a private production company making a promotional package for Bath Tourism Office.

Filming within the Cross Bath. Click on images to enlarge.

Filming within the Cross Bath. Click on images to enlarge.

The external lamp helping to light the filming within the Cross Bath

The external lamp helping to light the filming within the Cross Bath

Obviously a fully-clothed centurion is a much better image but of course the genuine Romans here two thousand years ago would have worn a lot less!

The dislodged kerb stones on the London Road.

The dislodged kerb stones on the London Road.

Elsewhere in town it is sad to see how many granite kerb stones are being dislodged by heavy vehicles parking wheels upon them.

Close up of dislodged kerb edging.

Close up of dislodged kerb edging.

I hope B&NES will put their re-instatement on the list of things to do – but it will have to go down after potholes l suppose.

B&NES booster for Cleveland Pools

B&NES booster for Cleveland Pools

lido

The Georgian lido at Cleveland Pools. Click on images to enlarge.

A big boost for efforts to retain and restore the Cleveland Pools in Bath has come with news that B&NES have pledged £200,000 from their annual budget to the restoration project.

The money is dependent on the Pools Trust acquiring funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund this summer but the Chair of the Cleveland Pools Trust is confident that all the criteria needed to acquire financial support have been met.

She continued: “This is great news, a major boost for our volunteers and the thousands of supporters who have come to see the Pools on Open Days. In 2015 the Cleveland Pools will be two hundred years old – they are unique in their heritage significance in the UK and probably in Europe.  

Ann Dunlop with the Mayor and Mayoress of Bath

Ann Dunlop on the left – pictured with the Mayor and Mayoress of Bath who were paying this unique Georgian lido a visit.

Interest in outdoor swimming is rising all the time, especially as people recognise the health benefits for themselves and their families. So the council’s decision is positive in many ways and it will contribute to the potential success of our Heritage Lottery Fund bid .”
THE decision to allocate this sum in the Council’s budget follows some individual support of the Trust’s aims from people like Councillor Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst MBE and Cllr Lisa Brett.
Cllr Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst MBE

Cllr Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst MBE

Loraine told the Virtual Museum:

“I am delighted that the Lib Dem Group agreed with Lisa, myself and the Chairman Neil Butters’ request for money to be allocated in the budget to support you should you be successful with your application bid for funding.

Cllr Lisa Brett.

Cllr Lisa Brett.

The money we asked for was up to £200,000 and this was agreed by our group at our budget meetings and then we were able to get the budget through council last week”.
The good news from B&NES will help give the HLF application even more clout and the Trust is also canvassing ‘letters of support’ from influential locals to help with the bid.
Regional talent on display at Victoria Gallery

Regional talent on display at Victoria Gallery

The prestigious Bath Society of Artists Annual Exhibition will be hosted by Bath & North East Somerset Council at the city’s Victoria Art Gallery from 5 April to 31 May 2014.

A little more for Moore.

A little more for Moore.

Now in its 109th year this hugely popular exhibition is the highlight of the Gallery’s calendar and assembles the cream of regional artistic talent. Any artist aged 18 or over may submit work for possible selection by downloading a form from the website www.bsartists.co.uk and following the delivery instructions.

The exhibition will be opened by Bel Mooney, the Bath-based journalist and broadcaster.

Many prizes are up for grabs including the Bath Society of Artists Prize of £1,000, the Bristol Guild Prize of £250 for a 3-D work and the Harry Walker ‘RWA’ Young Artist Prize of £250, awarded to artists aged 18-25.  There are also smaller prizes for prints, watercolours, small paintings and drawings.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Bath & North East Somerset Council is proud to welcome the Bath Society of Artists Exhibition to the Victoria Art Gallery once again. Visitors can prepare to be dazzled by the talent and sheer diversity of the more than 300 works that will be on display, all of which are for sale.”

During the exhibition members of the public will be invited to vote for their favourite art work, with the winner of the Bath Society of Artists Public Choice Prize receiving £500.

one of the works that will be on display is Tim Carroll's  'Beach Afternoon'

one of the works that will be on display is Tim Carroll’s ‘Beach Afternoon’

The Society was founded in 1904 with 26 members. It has grown over the years to a membership of around 120 diverse, talented artists. The annual exhibition, which is open to non-members, attracts about 1,000 entries and 7,000 visitors, with sales doubling in the last few years.

To enter, entrants must be over 18, pay a small entry fee to the Bath Society of Artists and submit their work at the Victoria Art Gallery on Saturday 29 March between 10am and 4pm.  All submissions must be the artist’s own original unaided work. They may be paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints or mixed media, but not photography, craft or Giclee reproductions.

Many distinguished 20th-century painters have exhibited with the Society including Walter Sickert, John Singer Sargent, Philip Wilson Steer, Gilbert Spencer, Patrick Heron, Mary Fedden, William Scott and Howard Hodgkin.

Free talks on art

There is also a programme of free talks being held in the Victoria Art Gallery on Saturday afternoons from 2.30-3.15pm by members of the Bath Society of Artists. The first is A Painter’s Approach with Peter Davies on 12 April, followed by A Sculptor’s Approach with Guy Thomas on 26 April and the third is A Printmaker’s Approach with Howard Jeffs on 17 May.

The Victoria Art Gallery, near Pulteney Bridge in Bath, is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm,Sundays 1.30pm to 5pm and closed on Mondays. Admission for the Bath Society of Artists Exhibition is £3.50 including a catalogue / Discovery Card Holders £2.50 / under 21s free. For more details call 01225 477233, email victoria_enquiries@bathnes.gov.uk or visit the Gallery’s website www.victoriagal.org.uk.