The sad view from Alice Park.

The boarded-up pub on the Gloucester Road
The boarded-up pub on the Gloucester Road
The boarded-up pub on the Gloucester Road. Click on images to enlarge them.

I have been getting upset by the growing dereliction you can see on the old Harvester Inn site – at the junction of the London and Gloucester Roads – and it seems a lot of Virtual Museum visitors have too!

The pub/restaurant complex was built in 1998 and – l am told – was very popular with families. It enjoyed a busy corner near the junction of the old A46 and A4.

It closed in 2007/8 – a victim it would seem of dwindling custom when the new Batheaston Swainswick Bypass moved all the passing trade further up the London Road.

Ever since then it has been boarded up and is gradually but inexorably sinking further and further into dereliction.  A far cry from it’s glory days – as illustrated in this photo (below) l found on http://www.bathpubs.co.uk.

A photo of the Harvester from the website of www.bathpubs.co.uk
A photo of the Harvester from the website of http://www.bathpubs.co.uk

Where there was just litter and ugly graffiti you can now see how the ravages of time and weather has pulled down guttering, blown off and smashed roof tiles and even caused external canopy collapse with insulation spilling out onto the wet concrete.

The old Harvester now minus graffiti.
The old Harvester now minus graffiti.

So imagine my surprise early this Friday morning (January 31st) when l passed the site and immediately noticed that the graffiti had been washed off the building and all that insulation stuffing cleared away!

The insulation stiffing - that was scattered everywhere - has also been removed.
The insulation stuffing – that was scattered everywhere – has also been removed.

Seems the powers that be read visit the Virtual Museum too!

The large and empty car park at the rear.
The large and empty car park at the rear.

Locals will know more about its history than me but l understand there was once a working water-mill  on or near this site. This complex was deliberately designed to reflect the fact that there was a real mill nearby some years ago.

Insulation scattered on the floor.
Insulation scattered on the floor.

It is sad to see a substantial and not unattractive contemporary building rot away.

Behind the property – which sits in once-pretty landscaped gardens beside the Lam Brook – a large and empty car park.

Now followers of the VMB tell me there were plans for a nursing home here and then – when that came to nothing – it was earmarked for housing.

However, its proximity to the Lambrook – which flows beside it and down to the nearby River Avon – may be holding up any redevelopment. There is a risk of flooding on at least part of the site.

The empty property is currently owned by Crosby Lend Lease – the British Residential Division of Lend Lease – a global property developer based in Australia!

No doubt – as part of their massive international ‘land-bank’ any stall on development is a minor matter but it DOES matter to us – the people making up the community who live around the old Harvester.

Alice Park is just across the road.
Alice Park is just across the road.

Meanwhile, with ever-popular Alice Park just across the road – and parking facilities unable to cope with the large number of families who often descend upon it – what a shame that this adjacent empty parking lot  couldn’t be opened up for Park users.

It would take parked cars off the road and make things safer for motorists and pedestrians at this point – even if  it was only on a temporary basis.

Shame on you B&NES for not insisting that some positive movement to halt this dereliction – or make a decision on the land’s future – is made sooner rather than later.

The site is currently listed in the Council’s Forward Development Plan as being earmarked for highways work in association with the housing development. Sounds like a roundabout in the offing?!

I would welcome any other thoughts or memories on the subject. The Virtual Museum loves your contributions and  photographs too.

My thanks to VMB viewer Ina Harris for the following:

‘I remember this lovely building being built as it was a field away from the bottom of my garden at the time in Larkhall.  It was built as a Harvester restaurant and seemed to be very popular, particularly with families. We were very surprised when it was closed.
It is on the site of an old mill and the good people of the Larkhall History Society know a great deal about it.  I also went to a public meeting several years ago when a developer wanted to knock the current building down and build a Nursing Home.
It was turned down because it would have been too high.  More recently, there has been talk of building between 30-50 homes on the site which would be a disaster in traffic management.
No doubt some developer is sitting on this and awaiting his chance to make a small fortune.  It is in a lovely part of town and I share Richard’s view that they could at least open up the site for parking for Alice Park.
It is only a matter of time before a small child is killed or injured on the Gloucester Road.  As someone who uses that road on a daily basis I hate driving along it on a weekend or school holiday when cars are double parked.
Good on  Richard in highlighting this issue.’