The Great Wall of Walcot Street

The 'Great Wall' of Walcot
The ‘Great Wall’ of Walcot

You thought it was there to prevent The Paragon from sliding down into Walcot Street but no – the great stone wall lining one side of most of this busy thoroughfare is serving a new and novel purpose in a trader-led initiative to promote business.

Some of the new stone heads!
Some of the new stone heads!

To quote a press-release – handed out at last night’s official unveiling – ‘In a sterling display of community spirit, businesses and residents have worked together to create a veritable trail along the central part of Walcot Street, where a display of comic, realistic and sometimes metrical stone faces celebrate over thirty years of recent history.

To date four “older” characters have been joined by sixteen fresh faces.

Some business owners have chosen to depict a caricature of themselves, others relate to a personal event – we leave you to recognise or identify those you can.’ One of those who has paid up to have her image immortalised in stone is Sue Shannon. Did she think it a good likeness?

Martin Tracey and 'Lord Walcot'
Martin Tracy and ‘Lord Walcot’

This drive to promote the street in such an original way has been led by independent local businessman Martin Tracy – owner of The Framing Workshop at number 80.

Last night he welcomed crowds of well-wishers to an unveiling to be carried out by ‘Lord Walcot’ – played by local actor Pavel Douglas.

But first Martin explained how the heads would not damage the Walcot wall.

Watching it all were some of the ‘loveable’ Cone-heads – characters created by Bath’s Natural Theatre Company of which Pavel has been a member – as actor and director – since 1976.

Plenty of on-street entertainment too last night from another Natural Theatre character out to keep passing traffic in order and even help me across the road!

The stone carvings join four much older images that had been gathering grime and had been barely noticed for a couple of decades.

Now they have some new company. Images created by stone mason Pete Bloomfield who was also on hand to take a bow and be applauded by the crowd.

Pete is still busy carving other images that are yet to take their place on the wall.

Cone-heads and a comic traffic warden!
Cone-heads and a comic traffic warden!

But now, with everyone ready and with even BBC Points West in attendance,  we were finally poised for the official unveiling of the wall and its unusual art.

It was good to see the crowd getting into the spirit of things at this point.

A welcome to ‘Lord Walcot’ before joining in on a  countdown to the official arrival of Bath’s latest on-street attraction.