The people behind the plaques.

The people behind the plaques.

Click on image to enlarge it.

Click on image to enlarge it.

The Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides is celebrating its 80th birthday with an additional series of free walking tours which celebrates some of the ‘celebrity’ names behind the bronze wall plaques dotted around the city.

Discover the secrets of some of Bath’s most famous former residents and why they deserved bronze wall plaques.

I have copied in their giveaway leaflet which has all the details.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

My dear people

My dear people

Bath Abbey archives hold various records from the First World War period – including the monthly newsletters written by the Rector at the time, Prebendary Sydney Boyd.

The monthly notice from August 1914.

The monthly notice from August 1914. Click on image to enlarge.

One of them – dating from August 1st 1914 – is reproduced on the front cover of this month’s newsletter from Bath’s parish church!

War was declared just three days later and just weeks afterwards fifteen members of the Abbey Congregation had already voluntarily enlisted in the Army and Navy.

Along with other newsletters written during 1914-1918 the letter gives a better understanding of the impact of the war on the Abbey community, the city of Bath and society as a whole.

It also helps commemorate the First World War by allowing parishioners to find out more about those who lost their lives or whose lives were changed forever.

A sculpture on display in the Gethsemane Chapel.

A sculpture on display in the Gethsemane Chapel.

The Abbey’s Norman chapel was reordered as a war memorial chapel and dedicated in 1922.

It is now known as the Gethsemane Chapel and also includes a Book of Remembrance which records the names of all civilians and military personnel who died between 1939 and 1945.

The Abbey's book and gift shop - housed in part of the South Cloister War Memorial.

The Abbey’s book and gift shop – housed in part of the South Cloister War Memorial.

During the Bath air raids of 1942 the blast from a bomb falling on the Recreation Ground nearby blew out the Great East window and all the windows on the north side of the Abbey.

Did you know the Abbey’s gift and bookshop is also housed in part of another war memorial.

It’s within the new south cloister which was dedicated as a war memorial on Armistice Day in 1927.

 In the meantime, the Abbey is appealing for people to come forward with photos, memories passed on from grandparents etc about the Abbey during the First World War period.

More details on their website

Are we a winner say Pools?

Are we a winner say Pools?

L to R  Adviser Mary Sabina Stacey, Trustees Paul Simon, Ina Harris, Ainslie Ensom, Sally Helvey and Ann Dunlop.

L to R Adviser Mary Sabina Stacey, Trustees Paul Simon, Ina Harris, Ainslie Ensom, Sally Helvey and Ann Dunlop. Click on images to enlarge.

Months of waiting are coming to an end for supporters and trustees of the Cleveland Pools – Bath’s unique Georgian open-air public lido.

By the end of next week they should be hearing if they have been successful in their bid to win financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable them to go ahead with the restoration of what is the oldest open-air swimming facility in the country.

Inspecting the site of the planned floating pontoon.

Inspecting the site of the planned floating pontoon.

Up to four million pounds may be needed to restore and re-open the Cleveland Pools to swimming.

It is a semi-circular lido – tucked behind Hampton Row in Bathwick – and built by John Pinch the Elder in 1815.

Whether HLF money is forthcoming or not supporters and trustees are determined to get a floating pontoon in place on the adjoining bank of the River Avon so that – in 2015 – the lido can benefit from cruisers being able to land visitors. Next year is the lido’s bi-centenary.


It’s a long way to Tipperary

It’s a long way to Tipperary

Cllr Bryan Chalker.

Cllr Bryan Chalker.

North East Somerset community broadcaster, Somer Valley FM, is airing a special show on 4th August presented by Bryan Chalker and Dom Chambers. Timed to the exact date of the 100th anniversary of Britain’s entry into the war the show features stories and memorabilia from the front around the theme of music from the era.

Mr Chalker, a former Mayor of Bath and Chairman of Bath & NE Somerset Council, came to the west country in the early 1980s to work for the regions first commercial radio station, Radio West. T

he veteran DJ brought his considerable knowledge of music to community broadcasting when he launched his popular show Same Roots, Different Fruits on Somer Valley FM two years ago.

Mr Chambers came to the area six years ago to launch Somer Valley FM. Previously he shared his passion for history with the listeners of BBC Solent and has made a life study of Imperial Germany.

The two broadcasters from different generations, who have combined radio experience of 75 years, share the fact that both their grandfathers fought in the Royal Flying Corps over the Western Front. The programme includes a letter sent home by Dom’s grandfather requesting music to be sent out to entertain the troops.

Dom says’ “Working with Bryan on this project was an absolute joy given his knowledge and passion for music. We didn’t want just to do another broadcast on ‘somewhere in this land there is a piece that is forever England ‘ type thing.

Somehow focusing on the musical hits of the day brings home to us that these were real people who needed to be entertained and laugh whilst being put in conditions that are unimaginable to most of us 100 years on.”

It’s a long way to Tipperary can be heard, 2pm on Monday 4th August online at or on 97.5fm.

For more information contact Dom Chambers on 01761 568 004.

Naming of new Keynsham centre back on the market!

Naming of new Keynsham centre back on the market!

Councillors have voted to uphold an official challenge to the proposed naming of the streets within Keynsham town centre development.

The new Keynsham Civic Centre

The new Keynsham Civic Centre

The outcome means B&NES inner Cabinet must now reconsider its original decision  to name all the streets within the development ‘Market Walk’ and report back within ten working days.

The reasons for the call-in, which was led by Keynsham’s Conservative councillors, included:

· That the information provided to the decision maker was factually incorrect, in that the area did not have ‘historical links to the market’, as Keynsham Market was on Bath Road, not Temple Street.

· That the Council undertook detailed consultation with residents, but chose to ignore the outcome of this consultation and rejected alternative name proposals put forward by Keynsham Town Council.

· That the rationale for rejecting the alternative proposals is inadequate, with the Cabinet report stating them only to be ‘unacceptable’ with no further explanation.

· That the Council, as developer, and Cabinet, as decision maker, should take greater heed of the views expressed in the consultation with residents and the Town Council.

During the meeting, the panel of councillors received a range of written and verbal evidence, interviewed the Cabinet Member responsible for the decision, and received a representation from Councillor Brian Simmons on behalf of those Councillors who had signed the Call-In request.

Following the meeting, Cllr Brian Simmons (Cons, Keynsham North), who led the call-in, said:

“We’re naturally delighted with this outcome, which will mean that the Cabinet is forced to review its original decision, having previously ignored the consultation carried out with residents and the Town Council.

“Our hope is that the Lib Dems will now actually listen to what residents and others have to say about the proposed names before reaching a final decision on the naming of the town centre. Preferably, they ought to put the various proposed names to a public vote, as they have done with the Town Clock design.”

Friedrich Ludwig Bartelt Founder of Keynsham's Polysulphin Works.

Friedrich Ludwig Bartelt
Founder of Keynsham’s Polysulphin Works.

Meanwhile Cllr Dave Laming –  who is an Independent councillor in the Lambridge ward- has come up with one suggestion for a more ‘local’ feel to a new street name.

He’s Freidrick Ludwig Bartelt – born in Prussia in 1852 – who – as an industrial chemist – developed a revolutionary product from soda ash for the de-hairing of leather hides.

He founded the Polysulphin Company and built a factory to use the process in Broadmead Lane, Keynsham in 1881. It is locally known as ‘the old soap factory.’

Leather was an extremely important product in those days for things like military boots, horse harnesses, gun carriages and military informs.

The Virtual Museum is also keen to see other local connections like Keynsham Abbey, the Frys/Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory and the buried Roman town of Trajectus getting a look in too!


Upping the score at Larkhall FC

Upping the score at Larkhall FC

A little reminder of how community spirit and local pride – wrapped up with sport – is very much a  part of our shared city heritage.

Larkhall Football Club is celebrating its centenary this year – 2014 – and currently running twelve football teams – with youngsters starting at the age of six.

Larkhall football club

From left to right. Matty Byrne Project 28, Cllr Dave Laming, Liz Ball manager of Project 28, Wayne Thorne manager of Larkhall FC, Scott Lye captain of Larkhall 1st team, Cllr Martin Veal Chairman of B&NES and Jessica Elmer from Project 28. Regards

Local Independent councillor Dave Laming has now provided sponsorship to allow the Club to get involved with Project 28 – a small charitable association that apparently truly cares for youngsters between the ages of seven and seventeen who have lost their way through substance or alcohol abuse – either directly or through third party influence.

Cllr Laming is pictured here with Larkhall Football Club and Project 28 officials, the Chairman of B&NES, Cllr Martin Veal, and the Project 28 stripe – to celebrate the new connection. The team won 3 – 1 in their first game too!


Bath’s Fashion Museum break out?

Bath’s Fashion Museum break out?

bath fashion museumA generous grant from Arts Council England has enabled Bath’s Fashion Museum to create a research and consultation programme to work out its future direction.

Bath and North East Somerset Council held a free public meeting just recently when local people were invited to have their say on what this world-famous collection should be doing in the next ten to fifteen years.

But, l wanted to know, if the public is being asked for ideas doesn’t that suggest the Museum has run out of them itself?


Wartime memories feature in WW1 Bath civic event.

Wartime memories feature in WW1 Bath civic event.

The memories of nurses who served during the two world wars is to feature in a  World War One Centenary civic event in Bath.

To commemorate one hundred years since the declaration of World War One, on Monday August 4, Bath & North East Somerset Council is holding a civic event to remember the impact this conflict had on people in our local communities.

90-year-old Heather Mackay, a retired nurse living in Lansdown in Bath, who worked during the Second World War, will be taking part. She will be reading extracts written during the First World War by a nurse at Bath War Hospital, whose account mirrors Heather’s own experience of nursing at a time of conflict.

 Heather Mackay’s aunt’s photograph album from her time as a nurse during World War One at Royaumont in France.  Courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Heather Mackay’s aunt’s photograph album from her time as a nurse during World War One at Royaumont in France.
Courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Heather said: “I remember when prisoners of war were repatriated; my job at that time was to bed-bath the ones that couldn’t do anything for themselves. I was talking to a lad asked him where he was taken prisoner. He said ‘Arnhem, nurse’. I said my cousin was at Arnhem, he got the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) in the Air Force. I went down the ward a bit further and asked another chap where he was taken prisoner and he also said ‘Arnhem, nurse’.

I told him ‘there’s a fellow up there taken prisoner at Arnhem, I’ll find out his name for you’. They were buddies and they each thought the other had been killed. As soon as we quietened down, we moved their beds next to each other and they were just so thrilled to see each other again. It was wonderful.”

Heather has many personal connections to the First World War too, with various family members having served across the war years. Her aunt, Marjorie Chapman, was an auxiliary nurse working at Royaumont, a Scottish Women’s Hospital Unit set up by pioneering surgeon, Dr Elsie Inglis. The British War Office had refused Doctor Inglis’ offer of help with the words, ‘My good lady, go home, and sit still’. Dr Elsie Inglis did not sit still. Instead she began setting up units abroad, starting with Royaumont, at an abbey north of Paris.

‘Bath War Hospital’ watercolour by E. Horton, 1918 (Credit: Wellcome Library, London)

‘Bath War Hospital’ watercolour by E. Horton, 1918
(Credit: Wellcome Library, London)

Heather says of her aunt’s experience: “It was an old Abbey, and it was nothing but women; the doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers were all women. Apparently they sent them a couple of men to service the ambulances and they said ‘no thank you, no thank you, women only’. And you think of that in 1915, it was very advanced. They were amazing women, way ahead of their time. In fact, someone asked me if my aunt was a suffragette and I said no she wasn’t – she didn’t have to be because my grandfather let his daughters do what they wanted. He was ahead of his time.”

The World War One centenary civic event takes place from 6-7pm at Bath War Memorial in the Royal Victoria Park. It is free, and open to everyone to come together in a shared act of remembrance, to mark the centenary through music, readings, and poetry from people from across the district. Contributions by local young people – who have been writing about the 1914-18 War – will also feature, and it will start with a parade by local cadets.

A commemorative wreath will be laid by the Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council and The Mayor of Bath.

Councillor Martin Veal, the Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We will gather together 100 years to the day when war was declared. As the years pass it is even more important to tell the stories of the First World War so that each generation learns from history and understands about the impact the War had on everyone – young and old; female and male; those left at home, as well as those who went to the battlefields.”

Councillor Cherry Beath, The Mayor of Bath said: “This free civic event will help us understand how our local citizens were affected by, and reacted to the War. It is fascinating to hear about the work of nurses at Bath War Hospital in Combe Park, where the horrors of the trenches could be witnessed on our doorstep. At this event we honour and remember the contribution of local people during the War years.”

For further information about the World War One Centenary Civic Event please contact the event organiser Jasmine Loveys: or 07984022426

World War 1 Victory Medal restored to rightful owners

World War 1 Victory Medal restored to rightful owners

A World War One Victory medal found in a field in the 1950s is to be donated to the Somerset Military Museum in Taunton after some genealogical detective work by a Bath & North East Somerset Council employee.

The Victory Medal

The Victory Medal

The medal originally belonged to Private William Wareham, of the Somerset Light Infantry, who was awarded Victory and British medals after taking part in the First World War.

It was found in a field near Green Ore by retired dentist David Boswell in the late 1950s when he and his wife Joan moved to the area. The medal has ‘Private W. Wareham 5117’ etched on the rim.

A photograph of the medal is one of the highlights of WW1 Remembered, a major exhibition opening in Bath on Friday, 1 August to mark the centenary of the start of the 1914-18 war. The exhibition commemorates those who lost their lives in the conflict and tells the stories of local people affected by the war.

The medal was restored to descendants of Private Wareham thanks to the efforts of amateur genealogist Graham Winter, who works in Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Health & Safety Team.

He was able to help trace the family of the World War One veteran after inspecting local parish records and service records for Somerset Light Infantry held in the National Archive.

Graham conducted a search of the Census returns for 1890, 1901 and 1911 before tracking down Private Wareham’s descendants via local parish marriage registers. He found that Private Wareham had married Eveline M Veasey in the first quarter of 1935.

Graham said: “At this point, I spoke to a member of the council’s staff with the surname Veasey. He confirmed that he had an Uncle Bill and Aunt Eve, with three children, John, Kathleen and Doug.
“He contacted Kathleen’s daughter and she spoke to her Uncle John about the medal. The family have since made contact with the finders and have decided that the Council can feature a photograph of the medal as part of their exhibition display.”

Following agreement with the Wareham family, David Boswell plans to donate the medal to the Somerset Military Museum, which holds the regimental archives and collections for the Somerset Light Infantry.

The ‘WW1 Remembered’ exhibition will run at Bath Central Library from August 1 – 11. It coincides with the date that war broke out in August 1914. To mark the centenary of the First World War, the exhibition will feature memorabilia from local people and stories from the conflict.
Cllr Ben Stevens, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development (Lib Dem, Widcombe), said: “We are delighted that the rightful owners of William Wareham’s Victory medal have been found and that it will be donated to the Somerset Military Museum.”
The WW1 Remembered exhibition opens on Friday August 1, from 3:30pm – 5pm; then from Saturday 2 August, it will be available during the library’s regular opening times. These are: Monday 9:30am – 6pm; Tuesday – Thursday 9:30am – 7pm; Friday & Saturday 9:30am – 5pm; Sunday 1pm – 4pm.
It is a collection of memories and artefacts that brings to light some of the unique histories of local residents who served in uniform and on the home front. With no living survivors to share their stories and experiences, the exhibition will consist of materials donated by residents, archives, collections and the descendants of local people, and will include photographs, letters from the front, newspaper cuttings, audio visual material and much more.”

Bath Central Library

Bath Central Library

The exhibition will tell a range of stories relating to the period, such as letters from the front penned by William Young, who is remembered on the Royal Victoria Park War Memorial in Bath; diary entries detailing a soldier’s journey to Gosport; and memorabilia of Oliver Brooks from Paulton who received the Victoria Cross; as well as a digital portrait of Harry Patch, who lived at Combe Down near Bath, and who was longest surviving British veteran to have fought in the First World War trenches. Harry passed away in 2009 aged 111.

Bath Central Library is at 19 The Podium, Northgate St, City Centre, Bath BA1 5AL. The entrance to the library can be found by taking the escalator, stair or lift in Waitrose to the first floor.

People who are unable to attend can also see many of the artefacts on the exhibition blog which can be found at

If you would like further information, contact Exhibition Organiser, Claire Sharpe, by email at or on 07730 594 345.

No 1 needs volunteers!

No 1 needs volunteers!

It’s a pleasure to reproduce an email received from Anna White at No 1 Royal Crescent.No 1 Royal Crescent

‘Dear Virtual Museum, we’d be very grateful if you could find place for this on your site / social networking

No. 1 Royal Crescent, Winner of the Best Large Visitor Attraction in Bath is looking for Volunteers!

Now open 7 days a week and with visitor numbers increasing since the £5 million ‘Whole Story’ renovation project, which saw No. 1 ‘reunited’ with No. 1a the museum is calling on local residents, with an interest in the history of Bath to join their team, as volunteer Room Guides.

Full training and some travel expenses are covered. For more information contact Anna White on 01225 428 126 or email’