Every year the Mayor of Bath’s Honorary Corps of Guides organises a series of special Summer walks. One such temporary addition will take in Walcot and the Paragon and will be led by Mr Ken Jefferies – who trained me last year!
John Cooper who is the Corps of Guide’s Membership Secretary – and who will be assisting Ken on his walk – has contacted the Virtual Museum with a question.
‘On the junction of Lansdown and the Paragon are Fountain Buildings. At the first floor level on the Paragon, but lower on Lansdown, are a number of holes drilled in the stonework below some, but not all, of the windows, The holes have a consistent but strange pattern. Is there any significance in the pattern of holes? Are they for ventilation?’
John is sure visitors will ask what the significance of the holes is.
Dr Cathryn Spence from Bath Preservation Trust very helpfully put me in contact a man who she thought must know most about buildings – and especially Bath buildings – and that’s architect David McLaughlin.
True enough – David emailed me with the information which will certainly help Ken and John with their special walks.
‘The holes and their odd pattern,’ he says, ‘ were insisted upon by British Gas (or the equivalent) when the two ranges of Fountain Buildings were repaired and converted to flats by a housing association in order to ventilate gas fires which were placed immediately behind them internally.
I was Conservation Architect in the city ( and from 1975 – 2005) at the time and tried to argue against them by taking the cross-section area of an individual hole and multiplying it by the number of holes, to give their required area and suggested that if a slot was created immediately under the window cill for the near width of the window – and a small length of mortar in the middle to support the two lengths of the cill – that it would be a dramatic visual improvement rather than the Gruyère effect of the holes.
However, British Gas (or equivalent) would not agree. There was a happier outcome in Cheltenham where my slot suggestion was used by others facing the same dilemma.’
Thank you for that David!