Norman masonry, gin shaker and putting archaeology to bed.

Norman masonry, gin shaker and putting archaeology to bed.

I was on hand – earlier today (Wednesday, November 25th) – to watch contractors put a little part of Bath’s industrial archaeology to bed.


The old pipe factory is being carefully covered with a blanket of small stones and a membrane.

It’s a good way of describing the careful way in which an important clay pipe factory – exposed by archaeologists during a dig on an area of the Saw Close that is now being redeveloped – is being carefully covered before it once again disappears below ground.

The site will eventually house a casino, hotel and restaurants but Sanctus the developers are letting Cotswold Archaeology delve into the history of this historic part of the old city before starting the re-build.

Knowing what is underground will also help the contractors work out where to put in the piles to support the new buildings – without too much disturbance.

The pipe factory – and its kilns – are the subject of a video interview elsewhere on the Virtual Museum and were also visited by nearly two thousand people during a special open day.

John Cossins-Price – the Sanctus Site Manager – gave me a hard hat and a special guided tour around the old Regency Garage which is soon to be demolished.

P1140198 (1)

Site Manager John Cousins-Price showing me the old car lift inside the Regency Garage.

The building was originally an 18th-century coach house and then a cheese warehouse, before becoming a garage in 1906. It operated until the late 20th century.

Interesting to read a section of a Historical Building Report on the area produced by Kay Ross of McLaughlin Ross llp for B&NES in 2007. She says:

‘The Regency Garage remains little changed since it was converted into a garage in 1906, and its distinctive shape can be traced back through a number of maps and plans to at least the late 18th century.


The old Regency Garage building.

Originally a coach house built in the 1770s, the east wall has a high blocked archway which would have provided access from the carrier’s yard. The angled west wall fronting the Saw Close was built in 1824 as well as the southern section of the rear east wall. The remaining walls are probably those of the 1770s building.

Both large doorways were inserted between 1906 and 1914 and the building has probably been 3 storeys since 1824.’

The historic walls linking it with the front of the former Music Hall Theatre next door will be kept. The theatre facade is listed and is absolutely assured of also being retained.


The upper floor in the old Regency Garage with the winch winding gear to the right.

The rest of the building is near collapse anyway. The most interesting thing inside is a manually operated car lift that must date back to the early years of the 20th century.

One could imagine it taking the weight of a Model T Ford but not a modern day – and much weightier – car.


The old winding handle for the car lift in the old Regency Garage.

A car can be winched up to the second floor – to be worked on – by a man turning the winch handle on the floor above.

I have taken many pictures and will pass them on to Stuart Burroughs at the Museum of Bath at Work.

Meanwhile, Simon Sworn who is Site Director for Cotswold Archaeology showed me where the excavated pipe factory was now being carefully re-covered in readiness for development work to proceed above it.


Site Director Simon Sworn showing me the basement area they have uncovered.

Elsewhere he pointed out some carved Normal masonry that had been recycled as building material on the Saw Close site. He thought it came from a church. Could it have come from the Norman complex that lies beneath Bath Abbey?


The carved piece of Norman masonry that may have come from a Bath church.

The stonework is being removed and will be preserved.

We then went further down the site and – in the middle of a muddy and noisy construction area – Simon explained what new archaeology had been discovered in the basements of houses that used to line the Bridewell Lane.



Oh Christmas tree

Oh Christmas tree

Let’s talk Christmas trees and start by praising the Parks Department at B&NES for coming up with a really good specimen to erect and light in Abbey Church Yard.


This year’s Abbey Church Yard tree which the Mayor will switch on with some of the younger members of the Lantern Procession at 6.30 pm.

In a way, it stands defiantly outside Bath Abbey because the church isn’t known for having a Christmas tree inside.

A little fir in the entrance porch is as far as this historic building goes towards letting the smell of pine fill its portals.

Unlike the ‘mother’ church at Wells which always has a whopper to add colour and excitement to  those heartily-sung Christmas carols.

However, Bath Abbey will fall in line this Christmas – if only briefly. The BBC are filming a morning service – live on Christmas Day – and it is my understanding that they have asked for trees to decorate the joyful scene.

How long they stay after that is not up to me. At least when the great West Doors are opened during the run up to Christmas the wonderful fir tree in Abbey Church Yard will let its light shine in.

Meanwhile Bath Abbey has issued a Press Release about the Christmas Day service:

“Viewers across Britain and around the world will be able to join Bath Abbey on Christmas Day. The BBC will be broadcasting to homes across the nation at 10am on BBC One, the first time a Christmas Day service has been broadcast on TV from Bath.
The service will highlight the importance of hope in the Christmas story, how it continues to inspire to this day, and highlight how the Church and its community puts its faith into action – from supporting homeless people here in Bath, to sharing in the everyday lives of people in the West Bank.
The Abbey’s international links will be brought to life with personal reflections from James Playfair on the work of ‘Reaching The Unreached’ in Tamil Nadu, Southern India: supporting socially and economically excluded families. The Revd Prebendary Edward Mason will talk about his visit to the West Bank and his meeting with the Mayor of Beit Sahour. Closer to home, Gloria Ware of Lifeline, a project for homeless and vulnerably housed people in the Bath area, will speak about her faith and how it supports her work.
The service will feature Bath Abbey’s boys, girls and men’s choirs, as well as the Melody Makers, the Abbey’s choir for children aged 6 to 11.
The service will include favourite readings and carols, including classics such as O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and In the Bleak Midwinter, as well as contemporary music by Jonathan Dove and Will Todd.
On the theme of the service, Revd Prebendary Edward Mason, Rector of Bath Abbey, said: “We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to help millions of people celebrate Christmas. We would like everyone who watches at home to feel part of the service and to catch something of the healing hope brought by Jesus Christ at Christmas. This has been a difficult year for the world and we also have our own personal needs. We hope that the service will be a great encouragement to millions.”
Speaking about the musical arrangements on the day, Dr Peter King, Director of Music at Bath Abbey, said: “The Missa Brevis by Jonathan Dove was commissioned by the Cathedral Organists’ Association and composed in 2009. It has quickly established itself in the repertoire of cathedral choirs up and down the country. My Lord Has Come by Will Todd was first published in 2011. Together, these two composers bring a contemporary feel to a service which includes more traditional carols. This year, we will be returning to descants composed by Sir David Willcocks who passed away in September this year.”

Christmas market cheer but no carousel

Christmas market cheer but no carousel

Ceramicist, Rupert Blamire is one of hundreds of local businesses looking forward to tomorrow’s (Thursday, November 26th) official ten am start for this year’s Bath Christmas Market.


Ceramicist Rupert Blamire in front of his market stall.


Over 170 wooden mini-chalets line the streets in the city centre and will offer an amazing range of Christmas gifts right through to December 13th.

It’s an annual event that attracts thousands of people – many of them coached in from other parts of the West and Wales.

Rupert has a business based in Bristol and produces everything from olive bowls and oil dispensers to salt cellars and whisky water jugs. This year his artist wife Hope will also be selling her specially designed tea towels in colours which compliment the pottery range.

Rupert sells to the National Trust and you can buy his wares at the Roman Baths Museum shop.


The carousel – pictured last year – and you won’t be seeing it this December in Bath.

Slight disappointment this year as the carousel that normally delights the young members of this market shopping crowd will not be in its usual place at the Pump Room end of Bath Street.

IMG_5208 (1)

Beer deliveries arriving for the new ‘rest and refuel’ lodge that replaces the carousel.

Instead organisers have installed a large wooden chalet  and told the Virtual Museum: ‘to keep the Market fresh this year we’ve got a new Lodge, a heated spot to rest & refuel during your shopping.’

I passed by there this morning and saw several beer lorries busy unloading – as if we needed another pub!

Sorry kids. It’s a shame.



Park & Ride extended Christmas services

Park & Ride extended Christmas services

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Park & Ride services will be running more frequently and later into the evening during the Christmas period.

Buses from Newbridge, Lansdown and Odd Down will operate until 10pm on weekdays during the Christmas Market.

christmas market

Last year in Abbey Green

More buses will also run at weekends which will double the frequency of services – on Saturdays there will be buses every 5 or 6 minutes, and on Sundays every 7 or 8 minutes.

Extra buses will also run on Sunday December 27 when Bath Rugby has a home fixture, and on the Bank Holiday, Monday December 28.

Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The Christmas Market attracts thousands of visitors from across our area, as well as the rest of the UK and overseas, generating over £20 million for the local economy.

“However, the increase in visitor numbers into the city during the festive period inevitably puts additional pressure onto our highways network. We are therefore putting in place additional measures to accommodate this increased demand and ensure that the market is as accessible as possible.

“Our Park & Rides are a good way of getting shoppers and visitors in and out of Bath city centre without using their car, and laying on additional weekend buses and extended the Park & Ride opening times also help keep traffic moving in the city during this busy period.”

christmas market 2014

Abbey Green through the M&S archway.

Late evening services will operate on the following days:

Christmas Market – Thursday November 26 – Saturday December 12
Monday – Saturday late night operation, last buses will leave the city centre at 10pm.

On Sundays November 29 and December 6 and 13, the last buses will leave the city centre at 6pm.

Monday December 14 – Saturday December 19
Late night operation, last buses leave the city centre at 10pm

Sunday 20 – Thursday 24 December – normal service

Christmas Day & Boxing Day – no service

December 27 & 28 – Sunday service (last buses leave the city centre at 6pm)

December 29 – 31- normal service

New Year’s Day – no service

January 2, normal Saturday service

(*Normal operating hours are 6.15am – 8.30pm Mon-Sat and 9.30am – Sunday/Bank Holidays.)

The bus shelters at Odd Down Park & Ride have also been replaced in time for the Christmas Market. The new shelters are bigger and provide better weather protection for waiting passengers.
The shelter for the number 42 service to the RUH has also been improved.

Full details can be found here

Bath-based artists on Belsen walk.

Bath-based artists on Belsen walk.

Richard White sent me an email l am going to reproduce in full:

“The Virtual Museum very kindly gave us a bit of coverage when we did the Honouring Esther walk in Somerset in April. We are now gearing up to take the walk to Germany on the actual route of the death march 71 years to the day Lorna’s mum, Esther Brunstein, made the journey to Belsen.


Richard White and Lorna Brunstein

Given the events in Paris and the continuing refugee crisis, the walk seems to be even more relevant and poignant. We have a crowdfunding campaign in progress and are looking to build our online following as well as encourage walkers to join us.

Any chance of a reminder for your readers?

More copy and a graphic attached.

Forced Walks: Honouring Esther. Germany. 2016.

In the face of blood and fear and bullets we believe that this is the time to be making gestures of love and solidarity; reminding ourselves of the values of internationalism and human rights.


The walk from Frome to Bath transposed over the ‘Death March’

Forced Walks: Honouring Esther is a walking project led by Bath-based artists Richard White and Lorna Brunstein working with the testimony of the Yiddish actor, Bundist and anti-fascist activist, Esther Brunstein. Esther, Lorna’s mother, made it through the horrors of the Holocaust: the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz and was liberated from the infamous concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen to Sweden in 1945. This project begins with the death march she survived in February 1945, from a slave labour camp near Hannover into Belsen.

Richard and Lorna are now preparing the walk for Germany in February on the actual route of the death march. They intend to create a live networked social media stream from the walk, revealing stories and sharing thoughts and connecting on contemporary human rights issues.


The walk Richard, Lorna and others took earlier this year.

Inspired by Esther’s story and her spirit of resistance, the artists have woven her testimony, and the testimony of other refugees and victims of persecution, with poetry and reflection through a curated 2-day journey generating further historic and contemporary human rights resonances. This participatory project supported by Bath Spa University is now nearing completion, Richard and Lorna invite others to join them for the last phase of the project, to walk, to help network the project and participate online. A crowdfunding appeal has been launched to help support the project and network the experience:

The opening phase, from Frome to Bath, was completed
in April on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen and was followed by an exhibition of documentation and new work at 44AD Gallery in Bath.

Winter closes in on refugees crossing Europe, tragic events in Paris and under-reported terror attacks elsewhere force us to think about the world we live in and the world we want to live in.

Our energies focus on the ‘Honouring Esther’ walk in Germany: from repatriating memory to reconciliation to solidarity. In making this walk and sharing it with the world, we want to contribute to reversing the spiral of fear and hate.”
Twitter: @forcedwalks


For your information:
Forced Walks: Honouring Esther is supported in kind by Bath Spa University.


Richard White

Richard White is a freelance artist and an Associate Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries, Bath Spa University

Lorna Brunstein is a freelance artist and a Student Support Worker in the School of Art and Design, Bath Spa University.

The 4/5 February walk is open to all, prospective walkers should contact the organizers through the website for further information:

More info contact:
Richard White 07717012790

Holburne lanterns light up Bath.

Well, the good news is that window of dry weather opportunity came true for the hundreds of adults and youngsters who took part in this year’s  Holburne Museum Lantern Procession which set off from the Sydney Garden’s end of Great Pulteney Street at 6 o’clock this evening. (Thursday, November 19th)


Just one of the amazing mythical creatures in this year’s procession.

It’s got to be the biggest and best-produced procession to date. This year’s theme was the Enchanted Forest and its birds, beasts, trees and mythical creatures. The procession made its way up Great Pulteney Street and into Parade Gardens.

The city’s Christmas illuminations were also switched on this evening.


Mr Badger waiting at the Holburne for the ‘off!’

Those taking part are asked to gather at 5.30 pm. Every year children and adults get down to the serious business of making lanterns out of withy and tissue paper.

See if you can spot yourself – or just enjoy some of the highlights and tell your friends it’s all on the Virtual Museum of Bath.


Free family history courses

Free family history courses

Free family history courses will be on offer to local residents, starting in December.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Bath Record Office is able to offer the new courses thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Bath Record Office

Bath Record Office at the Guildhall.

There are two types of courses: one for people who are just beginning their family history, or have made a start, perhaps using family history websites, but have not got very far; and courses for more advanced researchers, focussing on less well-known sources. The courses will include the chance for one-to-one help with your own family tree, as well as more formal sessions.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This is a great opportunity for local residents to learn more about their family histories and I would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for making these possible. Thanks to the popularity of programmes such as Who Do You Think You Are? we expect these to prove incredibly popular.”

The courses will run as follows:

Friday December 4, 2015
Beginners Family History at Keynsham Community Space

Monday January 11, 2016
Beginners Family History at the Guildhall, Bath

Tuesday January 26, 2016
Beginners Family History at Paulton Library @ The Hub

Monday February 22, 2016
Advanced Family History at the Guildhall, Bath

Saturday March 5, 2016
Beginners Family History at Keynsham Community Space

Saturday March 19, 2016
Beginners Family History at the Guildhall, Bath

Saturday May 7, 2016
Advanced Family History at the Guildhall, Bath

The courses at Keynsham will run from 10.30am until 3pm, with free lunch and refreshments

The courses at The Guildhall and Paulton will run from 10.30am until 3.30pm, again with free lunch and refreshments.

Please book a place by contacting, or on 01225 477421.

The courses are being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of ‘Our Heritage, Your Story: explore the past with Bath Record Office’, which is enabling Record Office staff to bring archives to life for new audiences. Bath Record Office has received a grant of £75,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a programme of events and projects with local community groups, together with a volunteer project to catalogue records. It aims to reveal fascinating records to many people who may never have never thought of using archives. The project started in early June, and will run for fifteen months until September 2016.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery