Back in 2002 when l was filming in Bath for Carlton Television l never thought l would end up living here. The final programme in a series called Set in Stone: The building of Bath found me asking if the developers of today were up to their Georgian forefathers as far as vision and impressive ground-breaking architecture was concerned.
I was referring specifically to plans for re-developing the banks of the River Avon down in the old industrial quarter around the gas works. We thought at least one spectacular building should be included as an addition to the city’s venerable architectural collection.
I asked television viewers to imagine something like the Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao in Spain being put on the riverside. Well, eleven years later, here l am – a Bath resident – and trying to get this Virtual Museum off the ground and into a high orbit in ‘cyber space’.
Doesn’t look like we are going to get a Guggenheim does it? One reason l launched the Virtual Museum of Bath – but that doesn’t stop me asking again. What are we going to leave for the future?
Bath seems to be rubbing out its industrial past as quickly as it can. Are we to pretend it never existed? That the only people who did physical work in this city were those who served the rich who came to sample our Spa and spend money in ballrooms and coffee houses?
Just before the last large industrial remnant falls. Think again about your last remaining gasometer Bath.
Maybe Sir James Dyson or Andrew Brownsword might like to financially kick-start something visionary. The structure could form the outer skin of Bath’s own new Albert Hall styled concert hall. Something we have always needed and here ‘in the round’ a footprint memory of a bye-gone age.
It is not too late to grant a stay of execution and use this structure in a new and novel way. Maybe you will be sorry if you don’t.