What’s causing ripples on the Victoria Bridge

What’s causing ripples on the Victoria Bridge

The Victoria suspension bridge.

The Victoria suspension bridge.

The entire surface of the newly refurbished and historic Victoria suspension bridge across Bath’s section of the River Avon is going to have to be replaced.

The bridge only officially completely re-opened three months ago after a multi-million pound restoration.

B&NES has erected prominent notices explains the problems they have had with the anti-slip coating which started lifting soon after it was laid.

A notice explaining the problems with the decking

A notice explaining the problems with the decking

Seems the need for speed may in the end result in additional costs – as the notice explains:

‘The surface of the bridge deck is an anti-slip coating, applied to ‘planks’ of glass reinforced plastic, (GRP) which in turn have been glued and screwed to the timber deck planks beneath.

The rippling effect on the bridge decking.

The rippling effect on the bridge decking.

The system was chosen particularly to give an efficient means of securing the anti-slip surface to the deck during the tight time-frame in November 2014 when the route across the bridge was closed to the pubic for the removal of the temporary truss and finishing of the bridge deck.’

It seems the plastic planks have been expanding and contracting with temperature changes and the movement has broken the glue bond with the timber below which has caused ‘ the GRP to lift between screw-points resulting in the ripple effect that can be seen particularly during warm periods.’

Another view of the problem decking.

Another view of the problem decking.

The amount of movement has been ‘much greater than predicted’ and it could also be that doing the job during a cold November meant the glue didn’t bond properly. A calculated risk the Council took to finish the job on time!

If you go down and make a careful crossing you will see a trial patch of what will probably be an alternative surface which ‘involves gluing a fine aggregate to the timber planks without the use of the GRP’ which will be stripped off.

B&NES say they aim to keep the bridge open during the laying of the new surface. The notice says it will happen ‘Spring 2015′ so they had better get a move on.

A section of the new decking which has been on trial.

A section of the new decking which has been on trial.

The bridge – a Grade 11 listed 19th century suspended footbridge – formally opened this January after a four-year refurbishment project costing £3.4 million pounds.

The bridge was built in 1836 as the prototype demonstration of James Dredge’s patented taper chain principle.

Over 50 further bridges were built throughout Britain, Ireland, India and Jamaica using the same principle.

Bath’s Victoria Bridge is the eldest of a small number of the survivors.

Bath’s hidden dumping ground reveals some of its secrets.

Bath’s hidden dumping ground reveals some of its secrets.

There's a bike coming up in the underwater grab!

There’s a bike coming up in this underwater grab! Click on images to enlarge.

Cars, bikes and scores of supermarket trolleys are surfacing again from the  depths of the River Avon during a massive clean-up operation being undertaken by the Environment Agency between Victoria Bridge and the old Destructor.

The pontoon-mounted crane in action by the Victoria Bridge.

The pontoon-mounted crane in action by the Victoria Bridge.

They are spending £20,000 conducting the first dredging operation along this stretch for 20 years and say the work will reduce the flooding risk to 238 properties in the city centre caused by such abandoned objects.

Obstacles like these increase the flood risk by disrupting flows and causing a hazard to navigation.

The Virtual Museum was on hand to watch part of the operation.

It starts with divers going down to explore the river bed and locate large objects.

The sites are then marked with plastic bottle floats and the crane – mounted on a moveable pontoon – begins the dredging operation.

A pile of river-dumped debris on the pontoon.

A pile of river-dumped debris on the pontoon.

It’s quite weird to see salvaged cars and other debris on the riverbank where Crest is undertaking a massive redevelopment on what is now known as Western Riverside.

A weird sight. Recovered vehicle on the river bank in front of the housing development taking place.

A weird sight. Recovered vehicle on the river bank in front of the housing development taking place.

One vehicle – which still had its number plates – was reported to the police and confirmed as stolen.

The operation coincides with the removal of the old Destructor Bridge by the same contractor.

It is due to be replaced by a new bridge which will give improved access to and from the new residential site.

The towpath passing underneath it is due to be closed for six months from next week (April 20th) while the bridge is removed and the new one built.

The two decorative scrolls on one end of the Destructor Bridge have already been removed.

The two decorative scrolls on one end of the Destructor Bridge have already been removed.

There have been moves to preserve at least a decorative section of the Destructor and the two scroll-shaped end sections nearest the Upper Bristol Road – have already been taken off and stored nearby.

The Managing Director of Crest Nicholson, Debbie Aplin, has told the Virtual Museum that it is ‘our intention to use some of the bridge in our site-wide art.’

You can watch the crane in action below.

Why Bath Fashion Museum’s the place to be for J-Lo fans!

Why Bath Fashion Museum’s the place to be for J-Lo fans!

Dresses of the Year at Bath Fashion Museum. Click on images to enlarge.

Dresses of the Year at Bath Fashion Museum. Click on images to enlarge.

Bath’s Fashion Museum has famously been adding a ‘Dress of the Year’ to its collection since it set up shop in the 1960’s – but this week a dress chosen to go on display in the city – back in the year 2000 –   has hit this week’s headlines in a slightly off-beat way.

The Versace Dress of the Year from 2000 at Bath Fashion Museum. Click on images to enlarge.

The Versace Dress of the Year from 2000 at Bath Fashion Museum. Click on images to enlarge.

Seems that this sheer and plunging chiffon silk dress – created by Donatella Versace – was chosen by actress Jennifer Lopez as her outfit to wear for the Grammy Awards in Hollywood that same year.

Jennifer Lopez at the Grammy Awards in 2000 wearing that Versace green dress. There's one you can see at Bath Fashion Museum.

Jennifer Lopez at the Grammy Awards in 2000 wearing that Versace green dress. There’s one you can see at Bath Fashion Museum.

You could say it was a green dress that caught the world’s attention and almost caused melt-down on the world wide web.

This week, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that J-Lo’s stunning, palm-tree printed dress was the impetus behind the creation of Google Images.

‘At the time, it was the most popular search query we had ever seen but we had no surefire way of getting users exactly what they wanted: J-Lo wearing that dress. Google Image Search was born,’ he said.

The dress – one of the most memorable moments of the early noughties – was even voted the fifth most iconic dress of all time in a Daily Telegraph poll, and this new announcement will surely confirm its place in sartorial history.

Sheer fabric and a plunging neckline.

Sheer fabric and a plunging neckline.

It was also a significant moment for designer Donatella Versace who – at the time – was struggling to find her feet as the fashion hose’s lead designer following the murder of her brother Gianna in 1997.

All this new publicity has been welcomed by Rosemary Harden who is the manager of Bath’s Fashion Museum – as people can come and see an identical Versace green dress at very close quarters.

You’ll just have to imagine J-Lo in it!

Check out the Fashion Museum’s website on www.fashionmuseum.co.uk

Mystery benefactor gives million-and-a-half to Bath Abbey project!

Mystery benefactor gives million-and-a-half to Bath Abbey project!

Bath Abbey’s fundraising appeal for its Footprint project has taken another giant step forward thanks to

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

an extraordinary donation of £1.5 million from an anonymous benefactor. The seven figure pledge is the largest ever received by the Abbey from a private individual.

The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained that the main reason behind the donation was that he was: “much impressed by the care and the consultation which has been put in by the Abbey, which is such a vital part of Bath’s future.” He continues by saying that: “This generation has a solemn duty to ensure the Abbey is fit and able to carry out its service to the city and the community for the next hundred years.”

The £19.3 million Footprint project will carry out essential repairs to stabilise the Abbey’s collapsing floor and introduce an innovative eco-friendly underfloor heating system using Bath’s famous hot springs as a source of energy. The programme will also create additional space and improved facilities, as well as develop new and exciting ways of sharing the Abbey’s stories, past and present, to ensure Bath Abbey is more hospitable and usable for the half a million people who use it every year.

Laura Brown, Footprint Appeal Director, said: “We are very grateful for this amazingly generous gift from one remarkable individual. It came in an ordinary-looking envelope, without pomp or fanfare, but the contents were just astounding. It clearly demonstrates the strength of feeling that the Abbey and its ministry inspires in people. Thanks to our generous benefactor and the £1.1 million pledge by the Abbey’s congregation and the Friends of Bath Abbey, we are now a huge step closer towards raising the match funding required to unlock the £10 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

Bath Abbey - Looking East - proposed improvements.

Bath Abbey – Looking East – proposed improvements.

In May last year, the Abbey’s Footprint project received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). In order to unlock the full award of £10 million from HLF, the Abbey will need to raise £7.1 million of match funding. Combined with other donations and this latest pledge, there is less than £4.5 million to raise from a combination of charitable trusts, foundations, private donors and public fundraising events.

For more information on and to support Bath Abbey’s Footprint project visit: www.bathabbey.org/footprint or follow @bathfootprint on Twitter.

Honouring Esther

Honouring Esther

 Rabbi Monique Mayer reading a prayer for the dead at the finish of the walk at the Old Jewish Burial Ground at Combe Down

Rabbi Monique Mayer reading a prayer for the dead at the finish of the walk at the Old Jewish Burial Ground at Combe Down

A group of people completed a walk from Frome to Bath this week ( Wednesday, April 15th) to help mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.

The walk started at the Cheese and Grain with the Mayor of Frome, Cllr Peter Mcfadden, seeing them off.

It was co-led by an installation artist whose grandparents perished in the camp and whose mother – Esther – both undertook and survived a ‘Nazi Death March.’

Richard White and Lorna Brunstein who are leading the walk from Frome to Bath.

Richard White and Lorna Brunstein who lead  the walk from Frome to Bath.

This special walk – in Esther’s honour – saw Lorna Brunstein team up with fellow walking artist and  Bath Spa University heritage lecturer Richard White on a route which followed – as closely as possible – the transposed line of the original march with  ten ‘interventions’ – themed moments of reflection – taking place along the way.

The walk ended at the old and historic Jewish Cemetery at Combe Down in Bath – where l met Richard and Lorna for a pre-walk chat.

You can find out more on www.forcedwalks.wordpress.com or @forcedwalks on Twitter and forced walks on Facebook.

Watch this space!

Watch this space!

Notices in Sydney Gardens.

Notices in Sydney Gardens.

Next time you take a walk through historic Sydney Gardens in Bath look out for the signposted information.

It’s giving some idea of how B&NES is hoping to spend some money improving things in this – the last remnant of a Georgian pleasure garden remaining in England.

There’s talk of opening up views of the Kennet and Avon Canal, replacing bins and seats and encouraging the use of ‘informal social space.’

Information posted about what 'improvements' are proposed. Click on images to enlarge.

Information posted about what ‘improvements’ are proposed. Click on images to enlarge.

I am with the Council in terms of reducing the amount of tarmac and using a more suitable material – and with keeping and improving the views along the ‘central ride’ but there is no mention of lighting.

Maybe the budget won’t stretch this far. B&NES was hoping for Heritage Lottery Fund support on a grander scheme – but solar-powered, sunken lighting would have given the public an extended use of this green jewel in its Bath stone crown.

Meanwhile it seems Network Rail is going to be using the park-keeper’s compost compound for storage during its electrification work on the section of railway that runs through the park.

How Network Rail are getting involved. Click on images to enlarge.

How Network Rail are getting involved. Click on images to enlarge.

Part of the agreement is a contribution from Network Rail towards the eventual restoration of the space to being an active public part of Sydney Gardens’ with improved connections to the Holburne Museum.’

Something to look forward to?

On the reverse side l wonder where the ‘cuttings’ are going to go. I heard this is already the official ‘compost corner’ for other parks in Bath also?

Celebrate World Heritage Day in Bath

Celebrate World Heritage Day in Bath

Prior Park Landscape Garden will be playing host to Bath’s World Heritage Day celebrations on Sunday April 19th.

This popular annual event is now in its sixth year, and has been held at locations around the city. This year the theme is the landscape setting of the World Heritage Site, which can be appreciated perfectly at Prior Park Landscape Garden on the southern slopes overlooking the city.

Prior Park was built in 1742 for Bath’s most famous eighteenth century entrepreneur, Ralph Allen, who was keen to have a country house from which he could admire the beautiful city constructed of stone from his mines at nearby Combe Down and Bathampton.

Considered an advertisement for Bath stone, Prior Park was later described as ‘a noble seat which sees all of Bath and which was built for all of Bath to see’.

Prior Park Gardens.

Prior Park Gardens.

Prior Park’s 28 acre garden was originally laid out by Allen’s friend, the poet Alexander Pope. In the 1750s and 60s Allen instructed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the most influential and fashionable landscape architect of the day, to re-design the site.

Amongst the many activities planned for World Heritage Day visitors will be able to meet and stroll with Ralph Allen, Mrs Allen, Capability Brown and John Wood, architect of Allen’s mansion.

Tony Crouch, Bath and North East Somerset Council’s World Heritage Manager, said: “It is easy to overlook the contribution that the landscape setting makes to the city, but imagine Bath without the surrounding green hillsides. Here we have world class architecture running seamlessly into countryside of outstanding natural beauty. This is a rare and precious combination.”

Making the most of the garden’s fascinating features, visitors can enjoy a range of activities around the garden from 10am to 4.30pm. Visitors of all ages can have a go at landscape drawing, painting and photography; join a Skyline walk or a mini guided walk of the garden; take in the view from the portico of the mansion; dress up as a Georgian and have a go at country dancing; listen to traditional music; go bug-hunting; find out about ant hills, wild flowers and butterflies; and discover more about the history and archaeology of the area from experts and local organisations.

World Heritage Day is organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council in association with the National Trust and Bath Preservation Trust. Entry will be free to Bath & North East Somerset residents with a Discovery Card, and to National Trust members. All activities are free of charge once on-site.

Visitors can enter the event from Ralph Allen Drive and from Church Lane. There is no car parking for the event but there is a bus stop on Ralph Allen Drive and the Church Lane entrance in Widcombe can be reached on foot in 20 minutes from the city centre. The Mayor of Bath’s Honorary Guides will be offering free guided walks to Prior Park starting outside the Pump Room at 11am and 1.30pm.

FOR INFORMATION:

International Day for Monuments and Sites (World Heritage Day) was established by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in 1983, to celebrate and draw attention to the need to preserve cultural heritage across the world.
The City of Bath was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987. Bath is one of only two cities in Europe for which the entire urban area has World Heritage Status (the other is Venice). The landscape setting of the city was one of the six reasons why Bath was granted World Heritage Site status (Bath’s ‘Outstanding Universal Value’).

Prior Park Landscape Garden was acquired by the National Trust in 1993. A major restoration project was started in 2003 to reveal and restore features in the garden such as the Serpentine Lake and the Grotto. The Palladian Bridge, one of only four which survives, is the most famous feature in the garden. The garden offers fine views over Bath and access to the ‘Bath Skyline’.

For further information about the World Heritage Site please visit http://www.bathworldheritage.org.uk. World Heritage Day details can be found on www.bathworldheritage.org.uk/events.