Down on what was the industrialised western bank of the River Avon – as it slipped out of Georgian Bath on its way to Bristol and the sea – the biggest residential redevelopment since the Woods – father and son – brought 18th century Palladian architecture into this spa city – is taking place.
Crest Nicholson are transforming a huge area that made up much of the city’s industrial past. In its centre the three towering circular tanks used to store the home-produced gas that lit the streets and warmed the houses of this expanding city.
There was engineering with crane makers Stothert and Pitt, brick and furniture making, printing, textiles, and even chemical and car manufacturing.
All is gradually disappearing under contemporary blocks with clean lines and the attraction of contemporary living but the developers have been keen to carry some history and heritage into the future and often in the most subtle of ways.
They have appointed artists with a brief to acknowledge the industrial history of the location and help give its transformation a sense of place for those who come to live on the banks of a newly acknowledged River Avon.
Even flood control measures have been built into the landscape – helping to reconnect Bathonians with their central waterway which is increasingly being looked at for leisure and not just as a drainage system for flood waters.
Elements has been chosen as a theme for the incorporation of all types of art on the site and in lots of different ways. It is inspired by the old gas works which was one of the first in the world and one that generated a chemical industry from its waste products.
Crest say the theme was inspired ‘ by the history of chemical production that arose on the western riverside site from the introduction of gas power to Bath, the sustainable concerns of Crest Nicholson for the environment and the combination of architectural, landscape and art components. Elements embraces the historical depth and the significance of the location.’
This is a big construction company making big impact on the landscape. Peter Dickinson who heads up the artistic input has lived in the city with his family for nearly 20 years. He says he is drawing on his experiences as an artist and family man for what is being planned on Western Riverside.
The Virtual Museum has been talking with him.