Back in 1923 Bath not only had a daily newspaper called The Bath Herald – ‘ acknowledged to be the most popular paper in the district’ – but also rolling off its presses in North Gate that December came the eighth edition of Alfred J Taylor’s Catalogue of Roman Remains Bath.
For 9d – and with the authority of the Bath Corporation – you could pick up a ‘ small, inexpensive hand-book which might serve the interested visitor as a ready guide to a study of our renowned Roman Baths, and those other monuments of ancient luxury and taste which excavations upon the site of the Roman Thermae have from time to time disclosed.’
The first edition dated to 1906 – less than 30 years after the amazing Roman bathing complex had been re-discovered and the work of uncovering it begun. This 1923 work had been kept from the printers until the very last-minute to ‘enable the whole of the information made available by excavation works which only ceased this month, being incorporated in the plan and letter-press.
Just inside the front cover is a pull-out diagram showing the very latest known lay-out of the Roman Baths.
While from about half way through there is an extensive catalogue with lots of illustrations of sculptured relics and inscribed stones which Alfred Taylor described as ‘ essential to such a publication if it is to properly fulfil its object in creating among the many visitors attracted to the city a more permanent interest in these remains of Roman Bath, which there can be little doubt rank among the most precious archaeological possessions of our Isles.’
Let’s start with a full-page advertisement for S.W.Bush and Son who were founded in 1834 on the site of the City’s old West Gate. Old established but apparently with ‘modern methods’ in which choice groceries and provisions ‘at competitive prices’ are ‘served by efficient salesmen, with utmost courtesy.’
No jobs for the ladies there then? I have already mentioned the Bath Herald. It cost 1d – a penny – daily and there was a weekly edition on Saturday for two pence or should l say tuppence.
Another full-page spread for the ‘noted’ Old Red House in New Bond Street where the famous Bath Oliver biscuit was manufactured. They also sold Bath Buns, Bath Bulls Eyes and Spahton ( Spa Town) chocolates!
The Old Red House was home to The Bath Restaurant and the business operated by Alfred Taylor (Bath) Ltd. Is that the same Alfred Taylor who wrote the Guide?
Down at South Gate Robert Membery was busy manufacturing The Auto Mower.
Visually promoted for its ‘simplicity, economy, lightness and ease of manipulation’ by having a woman steering it! I am leaving that one there – apart from telling you the grass cutting wonder cost from £42 10 shillings complete.
He apparently manufactured these delights and also high-class chocolates and ‘ the new cream toffees of delicious flavour’ which were sold in half pound or one pound tins and boxes.
Now l knew already that plasticine was invented in Bath in the basement of a house in Alfred Street near the Assembly Rooms. By this time Mr Harbutt’s factory had moved to Bathampton but this ‘complete modeller’ was being offered in ten colours and was available ‘for artists, schools and fancy boxes for the home.’
Did you know the city once had a Swiss cafe? It was called The Bernina and apart from being rendezvous for lunches, delightful afternoon teas and theatre dinners’ was also the home of ‘ the original Bernina chocolate.’ This City has got a very sweet tooth!
We are used to package tours and budget airlines but in Bath in 1923 Bell’s Travel Bureau in New Bond Street was promoting its business as ‘ the place in which you may get your railway tickets for travel on G.W.R. or Continental railway tickets.’
Next comes Ware and Co who dealt in cars, motor cycles and cycles from their premises in Quiet Street! They were agents for Sunbeam and Bean cars, Morgan runabouts and Triumph and Ariel motor cycles. You wouldn’t forget their telephone number – Bath 191!
‘Opposite the famous Assembly Rooms’ – said the advertisement – though at that time l think the Georgian building was being used as a cinema and market!
Hope this has stirred a few memories and maybe encouraged some contributions from other old Bath books and from other Bath people!