Window on the war.

Window on the war.

A very special anniversary coming up for Bath Abbey later this month. Friday (13th March) marks 60 years since the restoration and rededication of the East Window which was blown out during the Bath Blitz in 1942.

 The east end of Bath Abbey

The east end of Bath Abbey

It was officially unveiled at a special dedication service on Sunday the 13th of March 1955.

Looking up through the chair stall to the East Window. Click on images to enlarge.

Looking up through the chair stall to the East Window. Click on images to enlarge.

Only last year, Bath Abbey launched its Creating Voices audio archive which comprises an audio guide dedicated to the restoration of the East Window.

This includes a clip of Eric Naylor, a member of the Abbey’s congregation at the time, who gives a first-hand account of the rededication ceremony as well as an interview from Clare Cook, the partner of Ron Kirk, who together with his father, Harry Kirk from Clayton and Bell.

Clare talks about what it was like for Ron and Harry to be responsible for the mammoth task of restoring the Abbey’s East Window to its original glory. You can access this via http://www.bathabbey.org/history/creating-voices-oral-history-project/east-window

Following the 1942 blitz, the Abbey could not be used for regular services for some time. Bits of glass were dropping from the broken windows and the wind-swept through them.

It wasn’t until the war ended in 1945 that the Abbey began to think about restoring the window as well as other aspects of the building.

The East Window in all its colourful glory.

The East Window in all its colourful glory.

The glass from the window was so badly damaged that practically every glass maker in England said that it couldn’t be restored. Until the glass-making firm, Clayton and Bell, took up the challenge – sending father-and-son team of “glaziers”, Harry and Ron Kirk.

It wasn’t until April 1952 that the first stained glass lancet window was ready to go back into the window frame.

By 16 April 1953, the first tier of the window was completed and over 17 months later, at the end of October 1954, the bottom tier was in place.

Sixty per cent of the original glass, collected by members of the Abbey congregation, was used in the restored window. An amazing fact – considering that the East Window is made up of 864 square feet (or 80 square metres) of stained glass!

Bath’s history man

Bath’s history man

personal

click on images to enlarge

 

click on images to enlarge

click on images to enlarge

Another little bit of self-promotion – but who is going to do it if l don’t.

I have to thank Sarah Ford – Assistant Editor of Somerset Life Magazine – for the excellent article she has written about ‘Yours Truly’ for this months (March) edition.

I appear to be part of a special ‘look at Bath’ which certainly illustrates why this is such a lovely place in which to live or of course visit.

Apart from having to endure an hour with me and take down my idle chatter she also managed to upstage Bath Abbey by putting me in front of it!

I am sure the Rector will let me off this time around.

It’s not until someone asks you about your working life – and also why you now have such a passion for the World Heritage city you live in – that you actually stop and take stock of how far you’ve come along a winding road of experiences but hopefully one with a horizon still to aim for in the distance.

 

Roman treasures roadshow

Roman treasures roadshow

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Beau Street Hoard Roadshow team is showing off its Roman treasures in Midsomer Norton as the roadshow continues its travels around the region.

Some of the cleaned coins.

Some of the cleaned coins.

On Saturday 7th March, from 11am to 3pm, visitors can discover the mysteries and majesties behind the Beau Street Hoard at the Midsomer Norton Town Hall. Illustrated talks will take place at 11.30am and 2pm. Entry is free.

Visitors will be able to see some of the fabulous Roman coins found during an archaeological excavation in 2007, strike their own Roman coin to take home, learn all about the find and the mystery that shrouds it, take part in all- ages activities, and watch illustrated talks.

The Roadshow project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is one way the Council-run Roman Baths is working to bring these marvellous coins out to communities in Bath, North East Somerset and beyond.

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “With some coins still in amazing condition, the hoard has given us a better understanding of the lives and politics of Britain 2,000 years ago. The images on the coins are fascinating; they were the easiest way the Roman Emperor had of communicating with his citizens, and therefore represent thousands of mini state broadcasts.”

The Beau Street Hoard was excavated by archaeologists on the site of the Gainsborough Hotel development in Beau Street, Bath, in 2007. The 17,577 Roman coins span the period from 32BC – 275AD and were found in eight separate money bags, which were fused together. No one knows how they got there, why they were put there, or why no-one ever returned for them; the mystery behind them has led to many interesting theories, but no actual fact.

In March 2014, Bath & North East Somerset Council was awarded a grant of £372,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to purchase the hoard, and, from February 2015, it will be on permanent public display in a new interactive exhibit within the Aquae Sulis Gallery at The Roman Baths.

Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/BeauStHoard or give us a Follow @BeauStHoard. Alternatively, take a look at the http://www.romanbaths.co.uk events section.

On the job training

On the job training

City of Bath College students – studying Level 3 Construction Design and Management – have been given a taste of what it will be like to land their dream job of overseeing a construction project.

They’ve been given a behind-the-scenes tour of a £3 million pound retirement apartments scheme under construction in Monmouth Street.

Many of the 14 students hope to work in site management so they were keen to see what type of developments they could be working on in the future.

Construction Design and Management students visiting the St John’s Hospital development site in central Bath.

Construction Design and Management students visiting the St John’s Hospital development site in central Bath.

They donned their protective hats and high-visibility jackets to see first-hand how St. John’s Hospital – an historic Bath charity – is transforming its city centre almhouses.

Rosenberg House is being re-developed to include 15 state-of-the-art one-bedroomed apartments with a central atrium featuring a glass elevator and spiral staircase. There are up to 40 people working on the 52-week project.

The visit was arranged by Bray & Slaughter who have been working with City of Bath College to encourage more young people to go into construction.

The students asked lots of questions and learnt about a wide range on construction issues, such as the rising cost of materials, the importance of loft insulation and how the discovery of asbestos can cause unexpected delays.

Head of Engineering, Construction and Computing Daisy Walsh said the site visit had helped to increase the employability skills of students and strengthen the college’s industry links.

She said: “We are giving students real-life experience to increase their chances of gaining employment.

“Students will benefit from seeing and understanding the working environment. They see what they have learnt in the classroom being put into action.”

Students at St John's Hospital

Students at St John’s Hospital

Student James Condon, 17, said it was great to see what goes on at a high-profile city centre development.
He said: “It’s my first time on a site visit so it’s really interesting to see what happens behind the scenes.

“It’s given me a good idea of how things work in real life. I’m thinking about going into project management so it’s showed me what I can expect.”

The relationship between City of Bath College and Bray & Slaughter continues to strengthen as students have been invited to return to the site in the summer to see the completed project.

Students will also fill in a sample project manager application form before attending mock job interviews with bosses from the Bristol-based contractors.

Site Manager Matthew Quick said: “We like to help students by showing them around and telling them about the types of jobs that are available.

“There’s a shortage of skilled workers so who knows, the company could be hiring some of these students in the future.”

Name change for Bath museum

Name change for Bath museum

One of the city’s museums has changed its name. When it opens for the season next Saturday, February 14th, The Museum of the Building of Bath will be known as The Museum of Bath Architecture.

The re-named Museum of Bath Architecture.

The re-named Museum of Bath Architecture.

The museum comes under the umbrella of Bath Preservation Trust who say on the revamped website:

‘We hope you agree that this change better describes what you are going to look at.’

The website continues:

‘This unique museum interprets the rich architectural history of Bath and the people who transformed a provincial town into the world famous Georgian Spa.

It demonstrates how classical design influenced the buildings and illustrates the construction of a house from the cellars to the rafters.

Based in the historic Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel, the building is also home to the Bath Model, a fully detailed architectural model of the historic city centre, giving a unique insight into the layout of the Georgian City.
Model of the City of Bath.

As well as opening to visitors during the season, the Chapel houses study days and events from February to November for adults and young people, open to all.

The Museum of Bath Architecture also houses the Bath Buildings Record, which can be viewed by appointment. The Bath Buildings Record undertook to record, survey and rescue where possible, details comprising the large number of buildings that were earmarked for clearance as part of Bath’s modernisation in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Many of the images from the Bath Buildings Record have been digitised and are available to view online at Bath in Time.’

The Museum of Bath Architecture will be open from Saturday, 14th of February through to November 29th. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 2 to 5 pm and at week-ends from 10.30 am to 5 pm. The website address is museumofbatharchitecture.org.uk

 

Community clear-up day for Bath?

Community clear-up day for Bath?

The Virtual Museum is wondering whether Bath will be taking part in the Government’s first Community Clear-up Day proposed for March 21st.

Rubbish thrown over the wall into Sydney Gardens

Rubbish thrown over the wall into Sydney Gardens

Following comments about chewing gum damage on streets throughout the city, it’s interesting to note that a Communities Minister is calling on companies whose products make up the majority of our litter to take part in this first nationally organised event.

The only publicity l have seen for it was a story on Saturday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper – January 30th, 2015 – which says Communities Minister Kris Hopkins and his ministerial colleague Dan Rogerson have written to George Osborne, the Chancellor, to urge him to force tobacco companies to pay for cleaning up cigarette butts and packets which account for nearly a third of street litter.

Research by Keep Britain Tidy suggests that more than half the population drop litter. The Government is keen to bring about ‘widespread behaviour change’ by making dropping litter as unacceptable as drink-driving.

The first community clear-up day will be held on March 21st – the first day of spring – with the aim of sprucing up city centres, high streets, villages and parks.

It's always somebody else's job to clean up isn't it?

It’s always somebody else’s job to clean up isn’t it? Queen Square.

Mr Hopkins said: ‘This is a call to arms for communities great and small to help us end this litter scourge by taking greater pride in our neighbourhoods…..’

‘….I also urge the manufacturers of items commonly associated with littering, such as soft drinks, chewing gum, crisps, confectionery and fast food, to join us in this day and contribute to the clear-up of our streets and public places.’

Gum splattered around pedestrian benches on Stall Street

Gum splattered around pedestrian benches on Stall Street

Councils in England spend more than £800 million every year on street cleansing.

The Virtual Museum has already pointed out that Australia holds a national Clean Up Australia Day and wonders why Bath could not lead the way over here.

Ridding our World Heritage streets of gum blotches and cans and take away plastic boxed would certainly improve the look of the place and something we could all contribute to.

Memories of Lambridge Mill

Memories of Lambridge Mill

The old Harvester Inn on the Gloucester Road

The old Harvester Inn on the Gloucester Road

The redevelopment of the old Harvester site just off the London Road by the turning onto Gloucester Road at Lambridge will have water power incorporated into it – if the views of local B&NES Councillor and Heritage champion Bryan Chalker have anything to do with it.

Cllr Bryan Chalker.

Cllr Bryan Chalker.

Cllr Chalker has said he welcomes a new planning application that will see the now derelict 1998 building re-modelled as retirement homes.

It stands near the site of a former mill that was powered by water and Bryan hopes a water wheel could be incubated into the new design to provide at least some of the electrical power for the new development.

He’s written an overview of his thoughts and the Virtual Museum reproduces it in full.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE FORMER HARVESTER PUB/RESTAURANT AND ITS SITE by Cllr. Bryan Chalker (Heritage Champion)

I have always been interested in old mills and the Harvester caught my attention when I first became a Bath City councillor for Lambridge and realised that this modern building, erected in 1998, mirrored the design of Lambridge Mill, which once stood on land now occupied by nearby Pitman Court. This was an old watermill and there is precious little to mark its passing than a few scant stone footings and traces of the sluice (on the Lam Brook) which once turned the wheel to power the machinery.

The old Harvester Inn

The old Harvester Inn

Watermills were the lifeblood of Bath during its great industrial period but the vast majority have vanished with the passage of time and are remembered in name only.

Lambridge had two mills, one still standing but minus its wheel, the Dead Mill, and, of course, the aforementioned Lambridge Mill. A careful study of the modern Harvester building reveals a pleasing external facsimile of an early 19th century water-mill, complete with imitation vents, timber lucarne (winch-housing) and west extensions vaulted over a mock tailrace, diverted from the fast-flowing Lam Brook, which only lacks a waterwheel to complete the impression of rustic tranquillity.

In his excellent book ‘Bath At Work’ (Millstream Books 1989), author Duncan Harper wrote: “The tributaries of the Avon turned many waterwheels; there were extensive gunpowder mills at Woolley, paper and silk mills at Batheaston, leather at St. Catherine’s, flock at Monkton Combe”. One of those tributaries is, of course, the Lam Brook and the Lam is mentioned in a Saxon boundary charter for Charlcombe under the name of ‘Lambroc’; ‘lam’ possibly meaning either ‘loam’, ‘lamb’ or ‘land’ and the latter, in turn, might have implied ‘boundary brook’.

The Lam Brook begins its life in Cold Ashton, slightly five miles north of Bath, and once served as a common boundary to Tadwick, Langridge, Woolley, Charlcombe, Swainswick and Walcot, before flowing into the Avon. The Lam actually joins the Walcot ward boundary at the bottom of Valley View Road, a short distance from where the Dead Mill’s tail-race once re-joined the main stream next to the stone arch bridge beneath Dead Mill Lane.

A photo of the former Harvester from the website of www.bathpubs.co.uk

A photo of the former Harvester from the website of http://www.bathpubs.co.uk

There was a time when the Lam Brook served the Lambridge Mill, erected in the first half of the 19th century, and serving the local community and beyond with leather dressing, glue making and, latterly, as a flour mill.

A map of 1830 shows the Harvester site as meadows and depicts for the first time the newly built Lambridge Mill to the north, owned by the Sturge family. By the 1840s, the southern end of the site had merged into the land bounding Lambridge House, with the northern section held by the Sturge family and its watermill complex.

According to an estate map of Swainswick dating from 1729, the Harvester site formed part of a parcel of land known as ‘Licker’s Mead’, a meadow in the owner-ship of the Clark family and a mill had stood on this land since 1275.

Lambridge Mill fell into decay after its working life ended in 1951 and it became little more than a builder’s yard until demolition in 1966. It is interesting to note that one of its smaller mill stones may well survive in nearby Alice Park, where it served to cap a well and form the base for a flag-pole.

Bass Taverns were responsible for building the Harvester in 1998 but due to dwindling trade it closed for business in 2007/8 and has stood derelict ever since. Various applications have been to redevelop the land there and one such scheme proposed to demolish the structure and begin afresh. Now, it seems, a fresh application has been submitted to B&NES by McCarthy & Stone to retain the shell of the Harvester and transform its interior into retirement apartments for the over-70s, with 33 two bedroom apartments and 17 one bedroom apartments and 33 on-site parking spaces for residents and visitors.

One can only hope that B&NES planners will give the go-ahead for this development and ensure that the outward appearance of this pleasing modern building remains intact. My personal view is that the vaulted west wing could be adapted for the installation of a working waterwheel to provide electricity for the complex.

Prior to the erection of the Harvester pub, all that occupied the site previously was a modest nursery garden, with timber huts and glasshouses. There is precious little evidence of archaeological remains in or around this land, although an official survey of 1990 did find small quantities of Roman and medieval pottery along the proposed course of the Batheaston By-Pass near the Elms, Bailbrook.

The new sign at the old Harvester

The new sign at the old Harvester

It is high time the Harvester building was brought back to life and reflects some of the proud industrial heritage of Lambridge and a functioning waterwheel would be a wonderful way of welcoming visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I do hope that McCarthy & Stone will see fit to erect sympathetic and informative signage and/or plaques to highlight the architectural relationship between the Harvester and Lambridge Mill.