Roman Baths Learning Centre plans for former city laundry

Roman Baths Learning Centre plans for former city laundry

Bath & North East Somerset Council has appointed local architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) as lead designers

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

for the planned ‘Archway Centre’ project in Bath.

The project will create a state-of-the-art Roman Baths Learning Centre above the former city laundry in Swallow Street and a World Heritage Site Visitor Centre in 10 York Street. Visitors will also be able to walk through spaces beneath York Street excavated by City Architect, Major Davies in the 1880s, and see parts of the Roman Baths that have never before been open to regular public access.

The arch in York Street.

The arch in York Street.

The Council submitted a successful round one development grant application* to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £168,100 in 2014. Council staff will work with the design team over the next nine months to prepare a round two application to the HLF early in 2016 for capital funding for the Archway Centre. The project is expected to cost around £5 million.

The old laundry in Swallow Street

The old laundry in Swallow Street

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This significant project will help bring to life our heritage, improving the quality of experience for schoolchildren and others visiting the Roman Baths and also providing better interpretation of the World Heritage Site for everyone. FCBS has proven in open competition that they have the skills and relevant experience to develop these plans.”

The Great Bath - part of the  Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Matt Somerville, Project Associate at FCBS, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work in our home city on the most important Roman archaeological site in the country, a defining part of Bath’s World Heritage status. This project will bring back to life a really important group of buildings which have, until now, been sadly overlooked and it’s a daunting but extremely exciting prospect. We’re looking forward to working with Bath & North East Somerset Council to make a visit to the Roman Baths even more enjoyable than it is already.”

Other members of the design team are Bath-based structural and civil engineers Integral Engineering Design and mechanical and electrical engineers Method Consulting from Swindon.

Notes of interest from your Director.

1. * Heritage Grants (HG) applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.

2. From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players’ money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. http://www.hlf.org.uk.

3. For further information about the Archway Centre see http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/archwaycentre

4. For further information about the City of Bath UNESCO World Heritage Site see http://www.bathworldheritage.org.uk/

Trustees wanted for new Roman Baths Foundation

Trustees wanted for new Roman Baths Foundation

The Great Bath - part of the  Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Big changes are afoot at the city’s Roman Baths in an effort to attract more funding for conservation and education work.

They are being set up as a Foundation – a charitable company – which will also be able to promote all aspects of learning, access and study as an on-going advocate for the unique world-famous ancient site.

The Foundation is registered with Companies House and will shortly apply for charitable status with the Charity Commission.

Now it’s looking to appoint trustees to its Board. People who would bring skills, knowledge or experience in one or more of the following areas:
charity law
charity finance
history and interpretation of Bath / the Roman Baths
heritage sector fundraising
heritage sector learning
heritage sector conservation
membership organisations
networking and advocacy
marketing and PR

I am told that prior charity experience and availability to attend meetings in Bath will be advantageous. Board meetings will be held in Bath at quarterly intervals.

The first task for the Foundation will be supporting the development of the Archway Centre which will create a state-of-the-art Roman Baths Learning Centre and a much-needed World Heritage Visitor Centre in the heart of Bath.

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

If you are interested in becoming a trustee of the Roman Baths Foundation, you are asked to send an up-to-date CV and a letter setting out your suitability against these criteria to:

Stephen Bird, Company Secretary
The Roman Baths Foundation
c/o The Pump Room
Stall Street
Bath BA1 1LZ
stephen_bird@bathnes.gov.uk (link sends e-mail)
Trustees must be at least 18 years old and not disqualified by law from acting as charity trustees.
The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 29 May 2015.
– See more at: http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/job-opportunities#sthash.HmotqrvM.dpuf

U3A Beau Street Hoard project on display

U3A Beau Street Hoard project on display

The University of the Third Age (U3A) is putting its work on the Beau Street Hoard on display in Bath Central Library from May 5 – 9.

U3A volunteers who have been working on the Beau Street Hoard project

U3A volunteers who have been working on the Beau Street Hoard project

Volunteers from U3A groups from Norton Radstock and Bath have been working with Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Services team at the Roman Baths. They have photographed 17,577 Roman coins found in 2007 below the foundations of the new Gainsborough Hotel in Beau Street, just a short distance from the Roman Baths where some of these coins are now on permanent display.

Bob Piper, who has been leading the U3A team, said: “Our display will showcase all the tasks that the U3A have been involved with as well as featuring stories from volunteers about their involvement with this very successful Heritage Lottery Funded project. As well as learning new skills and being able to research the emperors and their lives through examination of the coins, our U3A members say they have also benefited at a more personal level from being involved in this project.”

The Beau Street Hoard was excavated by archaeologists on the site of the Gainsborough Hotel development in Beau Street, Bath, in 2007. The 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, which is now 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 www.romanbaths.co.uk events section.

Hat trick for Roman Baths

Hat trick for Roman Baths

The Great Bath - part of the  Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Roman Baths have received an Award of Excellence based on visitors’ ratings for the third consecutive year.

The Award was made by Irish bus tour operator, CIE Tours International, which recognises UK hotels and visitor attractions that have received a greater than 90% customer satisfaction rating.

Patricia Dunlop, the Council’s commercial manager at the Roman Baths, said: “The Roman Baths receives thousands of visits from CIE Tours clients every year, nearly all of them from north America. Only a small proportion of the attractions visited receive the award and it is a tribute to the high standards maintained by the whole team that these visitors have consistently rated the experience at the Roman Baths so highly.”

Brian Stack, Managing Director of CIE Tours International commented: “Our visitors from North America are accustomed to very high levels of service in hospitality and to achieve an above 90% rating from them is very meaningful.”

Beau Street Hoard Roadshow comes to rest in Bath

Beau Street Hoard Roadshow comes to rest in Bath

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

On Monday 4 May, from 11am to 3pm, visitors can discover the mysteries and majesties behind the Beau Street Hoard at Fairfield House, Bath. An illustrated talk will take place at 2pm. Entry is free.

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

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 the illustrated talk.

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.

This will be the 17th and final roadshow – more than 2,000 people have enjoyed the events so far. More free talks are planned in the future.

The new display featuring coins from the Beau Street Hoard.

The new display featuring coins from the Beau Street Hoard.

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.

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 17,500 coins.

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 17,500 coins.

In March 2014, Bath & North East Somerset Council was awarded a grant of £372,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to conserve and display the hoard – through a new accessible presentation at the Roman Baths and 33 different community activities, including roadshows.

It is now 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 on Twitter @BeauStHoard.

Alternatively, take a look at the http://www.romanbaths.co.uk events section.

Tai Chi on the Terrace.

Tai Chi on the Terrace.

Come and clear your minds at some early morning T’ai Chi sessions that once again this year,  are being organised at the Roman Baths from April – offering the opportunity to start the day with some gentle exercise.

Tai Chi on the Terrace at the Roman Baths. Picture taken during last year's sessions. Click on image to enlarge.

Tai Chi on the Terrace at the Roman Baths. Picture taken during last year’s sessions. Click on image to enlarge.

Led by a qualified and supportive T’ai Chi instructor, the sessions are open to anyone interested in improving their balance and aid relaxation.

They will take place for half an hour, starting at 8am, on the following Tuesdays: April14, 21 and 28; May 5, 12, 19 and 26, and June 2, 9 and 16.

“This is a great way to learn a new way of relaxing both mind and body in the elegant environment of the terrace – weather permitting,” said Stephen Clews, who works for B&NES as Manager of the Roman Baths. “But if the weather is less than friendly, practise your moves in the equally calm and beautiful surroundings of the inner terrace.

“Practising T’ai Chi in the refined surroundings of the terrace is an experience unique to the city of Bath and offers a very special experience for local people.” He added: “In ancient times the Roman Baths were a venue for relaxation and meeting with friends; it is wonderful that the Baths can still be used for the benefit of the community in this way today.

The early morning T’ai Chi sessions are planned to fit easily into a working day, or a trip to the shops or other sites of cultural and historical interest nearby.”

Baths soak up increased numbers – despite ratings slip.

Baths soak up increased numbers – despite ratings slip.

The Great Bath - part of the  Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Bath’s Roman Baths and Pump Room have slipped from 19th to 23rd place in the list of most visited UK attractions for 2013 – according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

However it’s only because other sites in London showed even  bigger increases in visitor numbers. The Baths actually showed a 7 per cent increase in numbers from 1,064,177 in 2012 to 1,135,007 in 2013.

It’s nearest rival was Stonehenge which managed 21st place with 1,241,296 – an increase of 18.9 per cent over the previous year.

The British Museum retained its place at number one with 6,695,213 – a 20 per cent increase over the previous year!