A Hussar and a park called Henrietta.

A Hussar and a park called Henrietta.

pulteney bridge

Pulteney Bridge and Weir.

Pulteney Bridge – one of Bath’s most iconic architectural set-pieces – was apparently designed to lead to even greater glories.

Its construction across the River Avon opened up the Bathwick estate for the building of what was planned to be one of the most impressive Neoclassical urban set pieces in Britain.

The Laura Place fountain looking down Great Pulteney Street to the Holburne Museum.

The Laura Place fountain looking down Great Pulteney Street to the Holburne Museum.

Great Pulteney Street was intended to form the central spine of a vast geometrical layout of grand streets, squares and circuses.

However, the scheme by Thomas Baldwin to create a whole new town south of the river was hit by financial panic as a result of the French Revolution and the collapse of many banks – including the one funding Baldwin’s grand plans.

Today stubby little side roads like Sunderland and Johnstone Streets indicate where work was brought to a halt.

Peace and solitude in Henrietta Park

Peace and solitude in Henrietta Park

The project had been instigated in the late 18th century by Sir William Johnstone Pulteney on behalf of his heiress wife Frances and then, after her death, on behalf of their daughter, Henrietta Laura Pulteney –  the first Countess of Bath.

Laura’s name lives on in Laura Place – with its centrally place and summer-gushing fountain.

Her mother was due to be immortalised with a vast square named after her – leading off from Sunderland Street. Instead – with bankruptcy cutting off  funds – the land was not built upon.

Water and spectacular plantings.

Water and spectacular plantings.

Instead Henrietta’s name lives on as a much-love seven acre park  laid out and opened to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria of 1897.

Architectural historians may also love it for being a fine example of the original level of the Bathwick estate land before the likes of Baldwin arrived to change the contours.

The terraces of Great Pulteney Street nearby were raised up on extensive vaults above the meadows that once sloped down to the river to form a level surface for the monumental layout.

The park also contains the King George V Memorial Garden with lovely planting arranged around a central pool and fountain.

The memorial stone.

The memorial stone.

A marble inscription – mounted on stone – says Henrietta Park was presented to the City of Bath by Captain Francis Williams Forester of the 3rd Kings Own Hussars.

Henrietta Park

The badly faded park sign.

Apparently, Captain Forester inherited the vast Bathwick Estate in 1891, because he was the great-nephew of Harry George Vane Powlett, 4th Duke of Cleveland (1803-1891).

He was also President of the Bath Association Cricket Club at some time between 1891 and his death in 1944 and he passed some of the Bathwick Estate on to the club, and to other sports clubs in the area.

Another view of the creeper on the fence in front of the memorial stone  in Henrietta Park

The creeper on the fence in front of the memorial stone in Henrietta Park

His gift is recorded on a memorial stone which is badly in need of cleaning and it’s further obstructed from view behind a climber that has spread out on the fence in front of it.

The grounds are beautifully cared for by the Parks Department staff but it is sad to see – as it is elsewhere in the city – the main park sign looking faded and unloved.

The Alice Park sign.

The Alice Park sign.

It’s the same thing at Alice Park – further along the London Road.

A memorial plaque giving the history of Pulteney Bridge and subsequent restorations. Now difficult to read.

A memorial plaque giving the history of Pulteney Bridge and subsequent restorations. Now difficult to read.

I have just become aware recently of so many examples of signs relating to Bath’s history and heritage which are in need of cleaning and restoration.

The Beazer Garden Maze sign down by Pulteney Weir.

The Beazer Garden Maze sign down by Pulteney Weir.

Surely there is nothing wrong with feeling proud about where one lives and the efforts both now and in the past that have gone into delivering and maintaining something which benefits the city and its people.

The fades sign telling the Beau Nash story on what was Popjoy's Restaurant.

The faded sign telling the Beau Nash story on what was Popjoy’s Restaurant.

These signs have lost their ‘pride of place’ – their special prominence in our lives.

Don’t let them fade away.

 

Cooking the Books!

Cooking the Books!

An invitation to come and taste some rare 18th century recipes is being offered on October 16th at Bath Central Library.

cooking the booksIn an evening presentation entitled ‘Cooking the Books’ you are invited to come and meet Dr Annie Gray – who is the Great British Bake Off’s Food Historian – and from Bath, Dale Ingram who is Head Chef at Sally Lunns.

They will be recreating and interpreting rare 18th century recipes from Bath Library’s archives for you to try.

Tickets are £5.75 each and include the talk and a tasting! The event is part of  the Great Bath Feast – www.greatbathfeast.co.uk

Taking tea at the Abbey!

Taking tea at the Abbey!

Calling all bakers! As part of the Great Bath Feast, Bath Abbey is hosting a bake sale with a difference and inviting people from Mary Berry’s home town to join in.

bath abbey cake bakeOn Saturday 18 October, tables filled with hundreds of cakes, cookies and other fancies will line the Abbey’s north aisle for the Great Bath Bake Sale. It will be the first time that the public will be able to show their support for Footprint, the Abbey’s fundraising appeal driven by the need to save the historic floor from collapse.

Two local food charities, Bath FoodCycle and FareShare, will also be represented and will receive a share of the proceeds. It’s something everyone can get involved in, whether you’re a professional pâtissier, occasionally bake for fun or simply enjoy eating tasty treats and want to support the sale by turning up.

The most significant sponge-based event ever to hit Bath, the Great Bath Bake Sale will have enough cakes, bakes and tempting treats to line the length of an Olympic swimming pool and is sure to appeal to sweet tooth visitors of all ages.bath abbey cake bake

Taking place between 1pm and 4pm, the event will also feature hands-on bread-making workshops for children from Bath’s famous Bertinet Kitchen. Parents and grandparents can keep little ones entertained as they enjoy a cup of tea and cake, and even take a few tasty morsels home to enjoy later!

Laura Brown, Footprint Appeal Director, said: “We’re really excited about the Great Bath Bake Sale. This marks the beginning of our fundraising appeal and we can’t wait to welcome new and old friends to join us for what will be a wonderful family event.”

The Great Bath Bake Sale will leave you feeling full of generosity as well as cake, as all proceeds go towards Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project, plus charities FareShare and FoodCycle. Footprint is a £19.3 million project which aims to carry out essential repairs to the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s unique hot springs, create new spaces and facilities, and record and interpret the Abbey’s 1,200 years of history.

Laura, added: “Bath Abbey is in desperate need of repair and restoration. People have been walking on the stone floor for hundreds of years and we need to carry out some important conservation work to ensure the Abbey will still be standing here for hundreds if not thousands of years to come. And what better way to bring people together in aid of this good cause, than over a slice of cake?”

So if you’ve been inspired by the Great British Bake Off, come along and showcase your baking skills “Mary Berry style”. Donations of cakes, breads or any baked goods will be gratefully received on the morning of the sale or just drop by to enjoy a selection of tasty treats!

For more information about The Great Bath Bake Sale visit http://www.bathabbey.org/greatbathbakesale or visit http://www.bathabbey.org/footprint/your-support to donate to the Footprint project. You can tweet to show your support using the hashtag #GreatBathBakeSale.

Open Days success for Cleveland Pools

Open Days success for Cleveland Pools

People arrived in droves and lingered at the display boards.

People arrived in droves and lingered at the display boards. Click on all images to enlarge!

Trustees and supporters of the Cleveland Pools – the UK’s last surviving open air Georgian Lido – were delighted to be breaking records during the recent Open Days week-end which saw a total of 1,358 people taking a look at the unique venue and learning about plans for its restoration.

That’s nearly three times last year’s attendance figures for those who came down to the site on the bank of the River Avon at Bathwick.

Visitors were generous too. They donated just over one thousand pounds which will go towards the all-important landing pontoon planned for the riverside and hopefully in place early next year.

Jenny Wyatt sits in the spot where she was proposed  to in 1963!

Jenny Wyatt sits in the spot where she was proposed
to in 1963!

The following report has been given to the Virtual Museum by trustee and publicity officer Sally Helvey. The visual images are hers also!

“There must have been something in the water last weekend…..a total of 1,358 people turned up at the Cleveland Pools by the river in Bathwick to see what delights they had in store, and no-one was disappointed.

Bath’s Mayor, Cllr Cherry Beath came along with the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Bath, Steve Bradley, and they chatted to members of the Gray family whose father Ron Gray was discovered through a Chronicle report recently to be the mysterious ‘Handstand Man’.

David Hallett photographs the Gray family group with Mayor Cherry Beath,  Parliamentary candidate Steve Bradley, Bath Dolphin Swimming Club president Dennis Toogood (cream suit), with our chair Ann Dunlop in the middle behind.

David Hallett photographs the Gray family group with Mayor Cherry Beath,
Parliamentary candidate Steve Bradley, Bath Dolphin Swimming Club president
Dennis Toogood (cream suit), with our chair Ann Dunlop in the middle behind.

Ron was pictured on the end of the diving board in a 1960 photograph donated, amongst others, by the Wessex Water Historical Archives. Dennis Toogood, the President of the Bath Dolphin Swimming Club, was on hand to present the eldest sibling Alan Gray with a print of Ron produced by print specialists Souter & Stanley from Portishead, and next day John Dagger – Bath’s legendary swimming instructor and latterly Superintendent of the Bath Sports & Leisure Centre – presented the youngest sibling Emma with the same gift.

A local amateur film-maker David Hallett, from Lansdown, interviewed former swimmers for a “Before, During & After the Restoration” film archive he is working on for the Cleveland Pools Trust, whilst children were shown how to make water-related Origami shapes, have their faces painted by skilled volunteers, or attempt to throw swim-rings over a pole to win sweets.

There was also plenty for adults, including individual exhibits from seven of Bath’s ’44AD Artspace’ artists who each took over a cubicle, and display boards prepared by volunteers Jill Coles and Chris Venables which highlighted both the history of this 200 year old Georgian lido and the recent press the Trust has been enjoying since August 11th this year when it was awarded ear-marked funding of £4.1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the pool and buildings.

Brothers Almos and Magor Juhasz take a break  from their duties.  Magor does a sketch.

Brothers Almos and Magor Juhasz take a break
from their duties. Magor does a sketch.

The Cleveland Pools ‘guardian’ Keith Williams, a keen river swimmer who lives opposite in Kensington gave scything demonstrations. He also opened the river gate to two river swimmers who wanted to join in the fun, Graham Kehily and Benji Bartlett. Trustees and volunteers were on hand to answer questions about the restoration plans and hundreds of people there expressed huge support and delight for the project, and congratulations for the work done so far.

New volunteer Alison Haley from Widcombe says: “It was an excellent event and turnout. There was so much enthusiasm from the visitors who cannot wait for the opening, it made it a pleasure to steward”.

Cleveland Pools chairman Ann Dunlop surrounded by promenaders from the Jane Austen Festival.

Cleveland Pools chairman Ann Dunlop surrounded
by promenaders from the Jane Austen Festival.

Other visitors included Bath Heritage Watchdog’s Jim Warren, ‘Bath Walks’ tour guide and author Kirsten Elliott, Cllr Bryan Chalker, the Heritage Champion for B&NES, and a retired admiral, Sir Robert Hill, who suggested that the Cleveland Pools might be a good place for Bath University’s engineering students to trial their human-powered entries for the Euopean International Submarine Races held every two years. Now that’s one idea the Cleveland Pools Trustees haven’t yet come up with !

George Thomas and Rupert Bendell try their hand  at scything under the watchful eye of Pools  'guardian' Keith Williams

George Thomas and Rupert Bendell try their hand
at scything under the watchful eye of Pools
‘guardian’ Keith Williams

The weekend at the Cleveland Pools ended with a flourish on the Sunday when eight promenades from the Jane Austen Festival arrived in all their finery to ‘take a turn’ around the Pool and meet the Trust’s chairman Ann Dunlop, but they were late arriving….. Ann says “We were beginning to lose hope that at they would get to us as we knew they were held up at the Holburne Museum, but they made their way before we closed and we were delighted to show them around.

It is very poignant that these Regency promenaders pay us a visit on our Heritage Open Days each year because the Cleveland Pools were built in Jane Austen’s hay-day”.

Inspecting the site of the planned floating pontoon.

Inspecting the site of the planned floating pontoon.

Now the Cleveland Pools Trust has to concentrate its efforts in appointing a Project Director for the development phase, and begin raising the £450,00 they need in match funding to earn the £4.1million.

They raised just over £1,000 at this event which will go towards the all-important landing pontoon on the riverside, enabling the Bath Boating Station’s river cruise boats to drop passengers at the Pools.

Bathwick resident Jude Sandy recognises  a few faces from the former swimmers  display boards

Bathwick resident Jude Sandy recognises
a few faces from the former swimmers
display boards

It is hoped that this will be done by March next year in readiness for the Bicentenary celebrations being planned over eight months of 2015. Ann adds: “People were very good at following our advice about no parking at the Pools last weekend and once they were on site they soon appreciated the fact that a boat ride will enhance the whole experience of a visit to the Pools, whether for swimming in the future or simply a visit to this historic gem”.

Jane Austen promenader Amy Nicole Banner dips a toe!

Jane Austen promenader Amy Nicole Banner dips a toe!

The trustees had to leave the site clear on Sunday for an autumn Fashion Shoot that was being held next day for a local magazine. They are now getting other bookings, and it has been recently confirmed that the Avon Fire & Rescue Service will carry out water safety training in future.

If anyone missed the open days, you can grab the opportunity of doing a Cleveland Pools Tour instead. Trustee Sally Helvey is also a tour guide, and offers a circuitous walking tour to the Pools every Tuesday at 11am, starting and ending at Abbey Green.

The £6 ticket can be bought at the Bath Visitor Centre in Abbey Churchyard. All proceeds go towards the Cleveland Pools Trust.

If you wish to donate direct to the river landing pontoon, or want to find out more about booking the Pools for your own event, look up their website here: www.clevelandpools.org.uk

 

 

Art books with a difference!

Art books with a difference!

bath libraryThose who have taken part in this years competition to re-cycle a library book will find out who has won in the various categories at Bath Central Library this Saturday – September 20th.

Youngsters of various ages have come up with very bath librarycreative uses for the un-wanted books.

They have been re-binding, cutting, painting, folding and even chopping them into pieces.

There is a great display of their work at the Central Library where a prize-giving ceremony is due to be held.

Final calls for Bath bingo hall.

Final calls for Bath bingo hall.

The old facade of the Palace Theatre - tucked away in the corner.

The old facade of the Palace Theatre – tucked away in the corner.

The Gala Bingo hall in Bath’s Sawclose will be shutting up shop in less than a fortnight.

It brings to an end the most recent of many transformations for a Grade 11 building that dates back to the late 19th century.

Apart from what is left of the original facade, the building is due to be demolished as part of plans to bring Casino-style gambling back to Bath for the first time since the Georgian card playing days of Beau Nash.

The go ahead has been given for a 14 million pound re-development involving a casino, hotel and two restaurants.

An illustration of the new Bath Casino and other commercial units.

An illustration of the new Bath Casino and other commercial units.

Gala Bingo have been calling ‘house’ since 1986  but the building pre-dates them by a hundred years.

It had opened originally as The Pavilion Music Hall –  constructed by Frank Kirk on the site of what was Bath’s hay and straw market.

Then began a whole series of transformations and alterations.

The following information came via www.cinematreasures.org/theatres/34945

The Lyric Theatre from 1897. © Bath in Time

The Lyric Theatre from 1897. © Bath in Time . Click on the image to go through to the website.

“It was re-constructed by architectural firm Wylson & Long in 1895, and re-opened as a live theatre re-named Lyric Theatre.

Taken over by the MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit of variety theatres in 1905, it was re-named Palace Theatre of Varieties.

A closer view of what would have been the circle seats

A closer view of what would have been the circle seats. Click on images to enlarge.

Palace Theatre Programme from 1906. © Bath in Time

Palace Theatre Programme from 1906. © Bath in Time. Click on the image to go through to the website.

Films were screened as part of the variety programme in the early days, projected from a Bioscope machine.

Films were screened until 1919, when it reverted back to variety theatre use – although occasional films were still screened in the 1920’s.

Looking down on the old auditorium towards where the stage would have been.

Looking down on the old auditorium towards where the stage would have been.

The Palace Theatre was altered in the 1930’s, and was given a single straight balcony.

It was closed as a variety theatre in 1955.

In 1956, it was converted into the Regency Ballroom, which removed the stage and side boxes in the auditorium.

In around 1968, the ballroom closed and was converted into a bingo club.

The entrance to Gala Bingo

The entrance to Gala Bingo

In 1976, while the bingo club was being operated by Zetters, they converted the former upstairs theatre bar into a 53 seat cinema, which was named the President Cinema.

This was a 16mm operation, having one show per evening, and operated until the mid-1980’s.

Today, Gala Bingo Club operates in the former Palace Theatre, which is a Grade II Listed building.”

The old Palace Theatre had a thousand seats, a stage with orchestra pit and eight dressing rooms. Rumour has it that Charlie Chaplin trod the boards here but – according to author and local historian Kirsten Elliott – it was his father taking a bow. “Charlie was only seven at the time,” says Kirsten.

However – she continued – “Gracie Fields made her name here in a show called Mr Tower of London (1921) which was a success here , went on to London and projected her to fame. She visited Bath on other occasions.”

Another big name at the time was Little Tich – alias Harry Relph – who at 4 feet and 6 inches – was an internationally famous music hall comedian and dancer. He’d come down from London in 1895 as the star turn for the opening of the re-named Lyric.

Love to hear your memories of this building and – if you have them – see photographs of programmes. Just leave your comments with the Virtual Museum.

Was enjoying reading up on British bingo slang including ‘Was she worth it – 5 and 6 – 56.’ Apparent five shillings and six pence was the price of a marriage licence years ago. Bingo players are required to call out ‘Yes she was!’ in reply.

 

 

Lively week-end at the lido!

Lively week-end at the lido!

The towpath poster showing a way into the Cleveland Pools.

The towpath poster showing a way into the Cleveland Pools. Click on all images to enlarge.

Look what l spotted while l was cycling home from Bath city centre – along the towpath beside the Kennet and Avon Canal.

It’s a sign that has been erected by the trustees of Cleveland Pools to show visitors a quick way across the railway line and up Hampton Row to the entrance to this wonder surviving Georgian lido.

'Captain Evans' will be on hand to talk about his remarkable feats!

‘Captain Evans’ will be on hand to talk about his remarkable feats!

If you come up onto the Kennet and Avon Canal via Grosvenor Bridge – and the little path that leads up the side of the canal bank – you will quickly come across it.

The reason the sign has been erected is that these hidden-away pools are going to be accessible during the up-coming Heritage Open Days week-end.

Meet the trustees and learn more about the fascinating history of the pools.

Meet the trustees and learn more about the fascinating history of the pools.

Cleveland Pools are actually open from tomorrow – Friday, September 12th and on Sat and Sun (13th-14th) from 2pm til 5pm only.

Don’t forget supporters are still jubilant from the news that the Heritage Lottery Fund is going to back their efforts to restore this amazing little gem! Weighty financial support but still lots of money to be raised within the community.

Former Bath swimming instructor John Dagger

Former Bath swimming instructor John Dagger

It’s hoped lots of people who may have swum there in the past might share their memories with supporters who will be on duty to welcome you.

The Mayor of Bath, Cllr Cherry Beath will also be visiting tomorrow – Friday, September 12th – at 3pm.

You will get a chance to meet legendary Bath swimming instructor John Dagger who well remembers when people enjoyed open air swimming here beside the River Avon.

You can find more details  at http://clevelandpools.org.uk/en/left/upcoming-events/ and they’ve also now got a link to their Green Travel Plan up on the Information page, which shows people coming what the bus routes are etc.