A bit of theatre at Cleveland Pools

A bit of theatre at Cleveland Pools

Performing Arts students have had the honour of taking centre stage at Bath’s beautiful 200-year-old Georgian lido.

University of Bath Spa students at Cleveland Pools.

City of Bath College students at Cleveland Pools.

The students from City of Bath College were invited to perform their own work in the first theatrical performance at Cleveland Pools.

The Grade II listed waterside retreat, which is believed to be the oldest surviving open-air swimming baths in the UK, proved to be the perfect setting for the production by candlelight.

Students explored their thoughts on dying and experiences of bereavement through a series of short stories called ‘A Life Through Death’s Eyes.’

The 11 BTEC Level 3 students put on the public performance next to the main swimming pool and in the original changing rooms on Friday evening.

Members of the audience carried lanterns as students performed the piece of physical theatre, which incorporated singing, dancing, movement and monologue.

Performing Arts lecturer Dominique Fester said Cleveland Pools was one of Bath’s best kept secrets.

Another night-time performance shot.

Another night-time performance shot.

She said: “It was a lovely, intimate setting and everyone was really excited to be performing there. It was an honour to be the first performance, an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“The theatre piece lends itself to a surreal and abstract site. There was certainly a sinister side to the piece so it was all very atmospheric.

“We have been learning about physical theatre, in particular how you can use the body and movement to tell stories and share ideas.

“This piece of theatre was all the students own work, they were inspired by graveyards and had full control over the piece. They decided on the stories and how they were put together.

“I’m very pleased with how they did, I’m proud of them.”

The site, which is in the shape of a miniature Georgian crescent, is to be restored to its former glory after The Cleveland Pools Trust secured £4.1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The restoration project will conserve the Georgian features and upgrade the facilities to allow for year-round swimming.

Students were invited to perform at Cleveland Pools after staff and students visited the site last month as part of the Heritage Open Days.

Student Bryony Blyth, 19, hopes to go on to study directing at university and said performing in such a historic venue was “a great experience.”

She said: “It was very exciting to perform in such a setting. We had worked so hard on everything and it all came together so well.

“It was about death but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. It was cleverly done so that people would learn new things. For example, it looked at suicide and touched upon the issues of forgiveness and letting go of guilt.”

To find out more about Performing Arts courses offered at City of Bath College, visit http://www.citybathcoll.ac.uk or call 01225 312191.

Improved pathway link for Beechen Cliff

Improved pathway link for Beechen Cliff

The city view from the top of Beechen Cliff.

The city view from the top of Beechen Cliff.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has started work to improve a path for walkers through the lower slopes of Beechen Cliff in Bath.

There is currently a well-trodden track through the woods that has been used for many years but it gets very muddy and slippery during wet weather, particularly the steep slope down to Alexandra Road, which often prevents people from using it.

The new path was the idea of the Beechen Cliff Steering Group, which includes local ward members, representatives of the National Trust and local residents’ groups.

A view down to Bath Spa station from the top of Beechen Cliff.

A view down to Bath Spa station from the top of Beechen Cliff.

Bath & North East Somerset Council agreed to fund the installation of a natural path made from crushed limestone with timber edges.

This will improve access through the woodland, though in some places there will have to be steps where it is too steep for a slope.

Cllr David Dixon (Lib Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “This is a great example of working with the local community to open up our beautiful woodlands, so that more people can use them. It will be similar to the paths that the National Trust has installed at Combe Down. There will be no excavations carried out in close proximity to trees so no tree roots will be damaged or severed.”

The path is due to be completed by December.

Keynsham history taking pride of place.

Keynsham history taking pride of place.

Looking down on the flooring taking shape.

Looking down on the flooring taking shape.

An exclusive look at an important ‘chunk’ of Keynsham’s heritage – finding a permanent home at

The mosaic panels being carefully shaped at Pixash Lane

The mosaic panels being carefully shaped at Pixash Lane

last after being installed – with pride of place – in the town’s new 34 million pound Civic Centre.

These panels of Roman mosaic came from the floor of a high-status villa – regarded by experts ‘as a minor Roman palace’- discovered on Durley Hill when the town cemetery was extended in the 1920’s.

They are certainly beautiful and have basically been in storage since being first lifted.

Having been moved to the Pixash Lane archaeological store the panels – which had been originally lifted from the ground and mounted on concrete with stone borders – were reshaped.

The panels arriving at the new Civic Centre

The panels arriving at the new Civic Centre

They have now been carefully transported to the new development where one by one they were carried through to be re-laid on the floor – like a giant jigsaw puzzle – coming together as a whole for the first time in nearly two thousand years.

The hoist being used to lower the mosaics into their final resting place.

The hoist being used to lower the mosaics into their final resting place.

The mosaics will be displayed in a specially constructed pit created in the floor and with a transparent covering.

The floor taking shape again for the first time in nearly two thousand years.

The floor taking shape again for the first time in nearly two thousand years.

Other artefacts from Keynsham’s past will also be displayed in an area that forms part of the new town library complex – opening on October 20th.

My thanks to Stephen Clews – Manager of the Roman Baths – for taking these images of the transporting and installation of the mosaic panels.

New trees for Bath commemorate Great War.

New trees for Bath commemorate Great War.

Two tree-planting events will take place in Bath and North East Somerset next month to commemorate the start of the Great War and local residents who died in it.

Cllr Sarah Bevan

Cllr Sarah Bevan

They have both been organised by Councillor Sarah Bevan with funding from Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Ward Councillors Initiative Fund, with arboricultural expertise from Adam Gretton at the charity More Trees for Bath and North East Somerset.

Cllr Bevan (Lib-Dem, Peasedown) said: “I am so pleased that I have been able to secure Ward Councillors Initiative funding for these two commemoration events for the Great War.

“It’s important to remember that local residents from Bath and North East Somerset, including the Peasedown area, fought and died for their country during the Great War and, during this centenary year, their loss should be commemorated with lasting memorials.”

The first ceremony takes place on Sunday, 2 November from 9 am to 12 noon at Eckweek Gardens in Peasedown St John, with permission from the landowner (Curo) and will involve local residents, Cllr Bevan, Adam Gretton and Steven Atkinson from Curo.

The second event takes place on Saturday 22 November, 9 am to 12 noon, at Orchard Way, Peasedown St John, and will see the planting of a replacement community orchard to commemorate the outbreak of The Great War and those who died. It will involve residents, Cllr Bevan, Adam Gretton and landowners Persimmon Homes West.

Heritage Open Week

Heritage Open Week

bath at work

Museum of Bath at Work.

Get set for 9 days of fun-filled activities at heritage sites across the district as Bath & North East Somerset Council co-ordinates another Heritage Open Week this October.

Heritage Open Week starts on Saturday 25 October and runs until Sunday 2 November with 20 organisations offering activities for all to enjoy.

Most activities you just turn up but there are some which you need to book in advance so pick up a brochure at your local Council Connect or search for “Heritage Open Week” on the Council website (www.bathnes.gov.uk) to find out more.

There’s a whole variety of things for families and people of all ages in the 2014 special celebration of Heritage in Bath and North East Somerset.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Bath & North East Somerset Council is proud to organise Heritage Open Week and celebrate the area’s distinctive array of heritage sites with this special programme of activities.

“These events can be a thoroughly rewarding experience as you can find out a lot about Bath and North East Somerset’s rich heritage – which might have otherwise been taken for granted. On top of that, there are lots of fun things to do and plenty of great ways to keep the kids entertained over the half term holidays.”
The Council’s Victoria Art Gallery opens with The Big Draw: Rhymn-ing Saturday 25 October (11am-3pm) which is an activity for all to get drawing and creating rhythmic patterns inspired by our city’s streets and landscape.

roman bathsFamily activities start at the Roman Baths on Monday 28 October and run every weekday from 10am – 1pm & 2pm – 4pm. We are creating pop up characters from our special hoard of 17,577 coins. This activity is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The fun continues at the Roman Baths on the afternoon of Tuesday 29 October and early evening from 4pm to 7pm with a special torch-lit event investigating treasure!

We will be hosting members of the British Museum and Wiltshire Conservation Unit who will be explaining how they look after archeological objects, including coins. You can also take the chance to get up close using one of the special microscopes to see Roman treasure in detail.

Dress of the Year 2013 is revealed at the Fashion Museum. April 2014. Photographer Freia Turland e:info@ftphotography.co.uk

Dress of the Year 2013 is revealed at the Fashion Museum. April 2014. Photographer Freia Turland e:info@ftphotography.co.uk

Family activities at the Fashion Museum run Tuesday 29, Wednesday 30 and Thursday 31 October in the afternoons (2pm-4pm) when we are creating figures with fashion flare. Make life-sized creations in the latest fashions.

New organisations taking part for 2014 are The Institute of Interdisciplinary Arts from the University of Bath who will be hosting ‘The Tour of all Tours’ book a place at their box office on 01225 386777 or try the Visit Bath visitor information centre.

Entry to the Council-run museums for their Heritage Open Week events is free of charge to Bath & North East Somerset Council residents upon production of a Discovery Card. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Please note that not all of the other museums are open free of charge for the whole week and admission charges apply to non-residents.
Other events to consider include:

· Museum of Bath at Work – Monday 27 October at 11am there will be a short film for all those steam-heads in the area. See Enginemen a film from 1959 on steam locomotive drivers.

· Radstock Museum – Monday 27 October 1.30pm are hosting a fossil hunt on a coal spoil heap. Meet at the museum.

· Back for a second year is the popular Falconry Demonstration at the American Museum in Britain on Tuesday 28th at 12.30pm.

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.


Most successful Austen Festival to date!

Most successful Austen Festival to date!

Filing into the Assembly Rooms. Click on images to enlarge!

Filing into the Assembly Rooms


It was touch and go for a while and a bit of a long wait – wearing hot costumes and in a cramped and crowded Concert Room – but Bath’s annual Jane Austen Festival has  reclaimed its own world record for ‘The Largest Gathering of People Dressed in Regency Costumes’.

It’s happened in a festival week that organisers have described as the most successful ever.

The winning 550 people - all in Regency dress!

The winning 550 people – all in Regency dress!

The Guinness World Record was originally set in 2009 by the Festival – held each September in Bath –  when 409 people gathered in the Assembly Rooms – making it the biggest event of its kind in the world.

This July, however, that number was surpassed by 491 American Austen festival-goers in Greater Louisville, as part of an event organised by the Jane Austen Society of North America.

austen festival 2014

Some Austen fans!

Although this figure has yet to be officially recognised by Guinness, the UK Jane Austen Festival aimed to beat the number achieved by their American counterpart.

And this was the build up today – September 13th – to finding out if they had done it.

People had to register their number and then spend five minutes together in the Concert Room.

Here’s when the count down to the end began.





The record attempt, and the Victory Grand Regency Promenade through Bath to the Parade Gardens was just one of the highlights of what organisers are calling the biggest festival yet in the event’s fourteen year history.

The festival reaches its grand finale this weekend with a host of events catering for all types of Austen aficionados.austen festival 2014

On Friday afternoon Austen: a Musical, performed at the Mission Theatre, Corn Street, explores the famous writer’s own, little known, real life romances and struggle to become a published author in a male dominated industry.

This is followed by one of the highlights of the ten-day extravaganza, the Masked Ball at the Pump Rooms. Here, Austen fans who have travelled from across the global to this heritage city can don their finest Regency costumes yet remain anonymous behind Venetian style masks.

On the penultimate day of the festival John Mullan, the well-known Professor of English at University College London and author of ‘What Matters in Jane Austen?’ will share his experience and love of the writer’s work, while later that day, another Austen authority, Maggie Lane, will discuss the colourful creations that were Jane’s widows. Box Tale Soup Theatre Company round off the evening’s entertainment when they present a version of Northanger Abbey that remains faithful to the book and comprises of two actors and seven puppets!

The final day of the festival will see a trio of performances bring to a close what organisers are already calling the most successful festival in its fourteen year history.

austen festival 2014Mansfield Presents is one of the events celebrating 200 years of Austen’s Mansfield Park, which has become her most controversial novel, while Love & Friendship, taken from Austen’s early work – the juvenilia – chronicles the adventures of Laura Talbot, a small-time heroine with big ambitions.

The ever-popular Austentatious then close the festival with undoubtedly one of the most talked-about shows on the improvised comedy circuit.

The festival programme with details of all events mentioned plus more can be found here: http://www.janeaustenfestivalbath.co.uk/festival-programme/

Please Note. A High resolution Image (4meg) of the world record event can be obtained here; http://www.janeausten.co.uk/images/Festivalrecord4meg.jpg

For more information or images, please contact: David Lassman – PR & Marketing Manager 07804 246931 or press@janeausten.co.uk

The 2015 festival runs 11th-20th September 2015.