Three years of medical life left for the Min?

Three years of medical life left for the Min?

B&NES councillors are to be asked  to give their backing to integration plans that will see all facilities at the historic Mineral Water Hospital moved to the Royal United Hospital site over the next three years.

The Mineral Water Hospital

The Mineral Water Hospital

Tomorrow’s (July 29th) meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Select Committee will hear that combining services is the most cost and patient effective way of moving forward.

A report on the acquisition of the site – and integration plans – to date states:

‘It is recognised that whilst the RNHRD building is highly regarded by the patients it serves, it is unlikely to be a cost-effective or suitable base for high quality service provision in the longer term.

It is expected that services will continue to be delivered from the existing RNHRD building for up to three years post acquisition. During this time work will be undertaken within the wider estates plans at the RUH to develop purpose designed environments which benefit patient experience and wellbeing whilst supporting improved efficiency and effectiveness of delivery through appropriate scaling, workflow design and co-location with other services.

Opportunities for branding of elements of the new estate will also ensure that the long-term legacy of the RNHRD can be protected.’

The ‘MIn” – as it is affectionately known in Bath – was founded in 1716 as a National Hospital for the ‘deserving poor’ and built in the late 1730’s to a design by John Wood and with money raised by Beau Nash.

A unique document bearing a  list of original trustees - including architect John Wood

A unique document bearing a list of original trustees – including architect John Wood

Thermal waters were pumped up the hill from the hot water springs so that people could benefit from them in the hospital’s purpose-built hydrotheraphy pool. The tunnel carrying the pipe is still extant.

If and when the hospital site becomes vacant there is a feeling that – although the general public can already enjoy the contemporary surroundings of the new Thermae Baths for pleasure – the Min could become a hydrotherapy treatment centre again – with thermal waters once more pumped up and used – enabling Bath to take back its title as a spa city with medical services.

With an injection of private capital it could be quite a centre and attract customers seeking treatment from around the world.

Or do we just let market forces claim another victim and look forward to its transformation into a boutique hotel, another themed pub or restaurant or even luxury flats!!

The building IS listed so its exterior at least is protected. It also houses a Roman mosaic in the basement and an amazing collection of medical artefacts and historical documents that would surely go into a Museum of Bath – if the city had such a building!!!!

Late night opening at Bath’s Fashion Museum

Late night opening at Bath’s Fashion Museum

Visitors to Bath’s Fashion Museum will have extra time to browse the world-class displays this summer, as the museum will be open until 6pm every Thursday in August, with last exit at 7pm.

Fashion displays. Click on images to enlarge.

Fashion displays. Click on images to enlarge.

A select number of visitors will also have a chance to experience a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum collection. Tours for a maximum of four people will run every Thursday evening and can be booked via Bath Box Office (http://bathboxoffice.org.uk/, tickets £8).

The Thursday evening openings at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Fashion Museum have been made possible by funding from Arts Council England to the Bath Museums Partnership.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This will give visitors to the city and local people alike the chance to explore the Fashion Museum into the early evening, and a lucky few will also get to see behind the scenes.

The Roman Baths and Victoria Art Gallery are also opening later on Thursdays during the summer, offering a cultural addition to Bath’s vibrant evening economy.”

Look 41 - By Gareth Pugh -  2014 Dress of the Year.

Look 41 – By Gareth Pugh – 2014 Dress of the Year.

Current displays at the museum include ‘Georgians – dress for polite society’, featuring sumptuous Georgian dress alongside Georgian-inspired creations by some of today’s top designers; ‘Great Names of Fashion’, showcasing beautiful evening dresses by designers including Dior, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent; and a chance to see this year’s ‘Dress of the Year’ by Gareth Pugh.

Tickets for the Fashion Museum cost £8.25/£7.25 concessions. Entry is free for Discovery Card holders. Find out more at www.fashionmuseum.co.uk

New eye on Bath

New eye on Bath

Backs of Georgian houses. © Tony McNicol

Backs of Georgian houses. © Tony McNicol

The city of Bath is a major tourist magnet – drawing in around four and a half million visitors each year and – as a member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides – l am one of many local people who volunteer to show some of them around.

Alexandra Park, Bath, UK, May 16, 2015. © Tony McNicol

Alexandra Park, Bath, UK, May 16, 2015. © Tony McNicol

It is a place with World Heritage status – partly awarded for its architecture and setting – something our visitors are keen to record with cameras, smart phones and tablets.

Images – amongst many taken on their travels – that they will probably puzzle over when they get home.

But now for the more serious photographers amongst them – and of course for local people with an eye for an image – an opportunity to explore the UK’s most photogenic city in expert camera-company.

Professional photographer, Tony McNicol.

Professional photographer, Tony McNicol.

The ‘new kid on the Bath stone block’ is The Bath Photo Tour, a three-hour private walking tour,  guided by professional photographer, Tony McNicol, which takes in Bath’s most iconic locations, as well as some lesser known spots.

On the tour, participants learn to get the most out of their camera, whether a smart phone, a point-and-shoot, or a high-end DSLR.

Tours can include as much or as little instruction as needed, such as on the basics of composition and colour, aperture and shutter speed, the best lenses to use for different subjects and the skillful use of natural light.

Lansdown Crescent, Bath, UK, June 15, 2015. ©Tony McNicol

Lansdown Crescent, Bath, UK, June 15, 2015. ©Tony McNicol

Tours are led by Tony McNicol who grew up in Bath before spending 15 years working in the UK and Japan as a photojournalist and travel photographer.

His photos have been published in media such as the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Wired Magazine and National Geographic News.

Interior Bath Abbey. Bath, UK, May 4, 2015. ©Tony McNicol

Interior Bath Abbey. Bath, UK, May 4, 2015. ©Tony McNicol

“As everyone who has visited Bath knows, this is an incredibly beautiful and photogenic city,” says Tony.

“I want to help photographers get the most out of their visit. And it’s a great way for me to explore and document the city too!”

The tour is run by www.thebathphotographer.uk – an online resource for Bath-based and visiting photographers.

Custom tours to locations near Bath are available and special workshops are also being planned.

Green Flag Awards for five local parks and green spaces

Green Flag Awards for five local parks and green spaces

Five parks and green spaces, managed by Bath & North East Somerset Council in partnership with local communities, have been awarded Green Flag Awards this year.

victoria parkAlexandra Park; Royal Victoria Park and Haycombe Cemetery in Bath have all received the prestigious national award, as have Silver Street Local Nature Reserve in Midsomer Norton and Keynsham Memorial Park.

The Green Flag Award recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country. A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Although this area is renowned for its floral displays, we are absolutely delighted that five of our local parks and green spaces have received Green Flag Awards from Keep Britain Tidy. This demonstrates that we have parks of the very highest quality in our area, available free for local people to use as well as visitors. Congratulations to everyone involved in looking after these areas which bring huge benefit to local communities.”

Opened in 1902, Alexandra Park offers magnificent panoramic views of the city, and surrounding hills and wooded vales. The lawns and fine trees create a restful atmosphere, and it also features popular sports facilities. The park is supported by a strong friends group which was instrumental to winning the Green Flag Award.

Silver Street Nature Reserve, Midsomer Norton, features woodland, a pond and meadow. Located next to the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust’s station. The reserve is cared for by an active friends group.

Keynsham Memorial Park is used and loved by all parts of the community and is home to the most diverse range of natural flora and fauna possible.

Royal Victoria Park was officially opened on October 23rd, 1830, by Princess Victoria following an immense plantation of 25,000 trees and shrubs. The 23-hectare park is a well-used and much loved public amenity situated in the centre of Bath.

Haycombe Cemetery has flower rich habitats in a number of areas, creating strong landscape features and providing a haven for wildlife. The area is managed in a way that encompasses the sensitivities of those that use the space.

The announcement of this year’s Award winners comes in the same week that thousands of people up and down the country are enjoying Love Parks Week (July 24 to August 2), an annual celebration of green spaces and the community groups that bring them to life.

Come view Roman dig at Keynsham.

Come view Roman dig at Keynsham.

The public got a chance at the week-end to see for themselves the excavating work taking place in Keynsham Cemetery on the site of a possible Roman Temple.

The  mosaic floor taking shape again in the new Keynsham Library for the first time in nearly two thousand years.

The mosaic floor taking shape again in the new Keynsham Library.

It’s where – in the 1920’s – that mosaics from rooms making up a substantial Roman settlement were first discovered by workmen digging graves.

An artist's impression of the Durley Hill villa which produced the excavated mosaics.

An artist’s impression of the Durley Hill villa which produced the excavated mosaics.

Known as the Durley Hill Roman Villa  archaeologists revealed a building positioned around the largest court of any rural Roman structure in the country and embellished with exotically designed rooms.

Many of the mosaics were lifted and have now found a new home in the floor and on the walls of the new Keynsham Library.

Members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society and the Association for Roman Archaeology have now dug a broad trench across part of the buried remains after extensive geophysical surveys indicate a building which may prove to be a detached temple fronting the great villa building.

Check out http://www.facebook.com/durleyhill

Box Tunnel closed!

Box Tunnel closed!

First images of construction work getting underway in Box Tunnel. Click on images to enlarge.

First images of construction work getting underway in Box Tunnel. Click on images to enlarge.

Here it is folks. The first images of work now underway at the mouth of the Box Tunnel as Network Rail begin the month-long task of lowering the floor to allow the power cable needed to electrify the Great Western Line to be carried through.

Contractors moved in over the week-end and all is said to be going well.

Brunel’s historic 1.83 mile long tunnel – one of the most significant structures on the main line between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington – will be closed until the end of August.

The work underway now is the most significant involving this rail route under Box Hill since construction began in December 1838.

The lives of about 100 workers were lost in the process of blasting a way through the limestone but the tunnel was open to traffic in June 1841.

New gravel for the reduced rail bed in the tunnel.

Trucks to carry away the old gravel bed in the tunnel?

In the end  up to 4,000 men worked on completing the job. When the two ends met in the middle the margin of error was found to be only two inches or 50mm.

We shall start to see things happening around the line as it passes through Bath’s Sydney Gardens in the middle of next month.

A spokesperson for Network Rail told me: ” On 17th August we will start to put up the safety fencing around the line in preparation for the works.

We are planning to close off the iron footbridge to pedestrians but the other footbridge will remain open for use.”

A closer view of the action.

A closer view of the action.

The section of line through the gardens has also to be lowered as the bridges are listed and cannot be taken down – although safety barriers of some description will have to be put across them.

Network Rail are well aware of how sensitive a section this is and – with the aid of a sloping ditch – are hoping to keep people away from the dangers of a live power cable but still allowing them to see the new electric trains that will be using the line from the summer of 2017.

Keep up to date with developments via http://www.networkrail.co.uk/great-western-route-modernisation/banes/

Bath’s ‘first’ shared space area opens in Seven Dials

Bath’s ‘first’ shared space area opens in Seven Dials

The 'shared' space at Seven Dials.

The ‘shared’ space at Seven Dials.

A project to improve public space with more focus on the needs of people walking and cycling has been completed in the Seven Dials area of Bath.

Daily, far more pedestrians than cars use the area around Seven Dials but they were previously confined to narrow footways. The designation of this area as a ‘shared space’, with substantial changes to reduce distinctions between road and footway, removes the notion of motor vehicles automatically having priority.

The 'shared space' notice at Seven Dials.

The ‘shared space’ notice at Seven Dials.

It increases the space available to pedestrians and improves accessibility, particularly for people with disabilities or those using pushchairs.

In a conventional layout, pedestrians and motorists are equally entitled to occupy the carriageway, but habitually pedestrians give way. In shared space, people have to be more aware of other users, communicating and co-operating rather than assuming they have priority.

Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “I’m pleased this project has been completed. This new administration is committed to making it easier for residents, businesses and visitors to get around Bath. The aim is for people to use this redesigned space courteously and considerately. Walking around will be easier and spending time in the area more pleasant.”

The work on a shared space in Lower Borough Walls

The work on a shared space in Lower Borough Walls

Seven Dials, incorporating Kingsmead Square and Saw Close, is the historic west gate of Bath the city where seven routes met and lies to the west of the city’s main thoroughfare. The improvements have been delivered thanks to a £1.2 million grant from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition programme to improve the area for walking and cycling.

Doing away with pavement/road division in Stall Street.

Doing away with pavement/road division in Stall Street.

Director’s note: Seems to me this ‘shared space’ idea is also being tried out along Lower Borough Walls and the bottom end of Stall Street. Call it what you like its basically doing away with any definition between pavement and road. It ends up being a big space upon which cars, pedestrians and cyclists will fight for room. I remain to be convinced.

As far as Westgate Street is concerned – leading to this new shared space at Seven Dials – the ‘cycle’ markings on the road is faded. As a cyclist, l was shouted at by someone who told me l was going the wrong way in a one way street. It is two-way for cyclists.