Queen Square – going to the dogs!

One of Bath’s most iconic Georgian spaces is under attack and – it seems – it’s our four-legged friends doing the damage.

A badly damaged tree
A badly damaged tree. Click on images to enlarge.

City resident Terry Basson is concerned about what he calls “the appalling damage being done by dogs chewing the bark of our trees in Queen Square.”

In an email to B&NES Heritage champion Cllr Bryan Chalker he says: “There is an old saying which comes from a time when the ‘Wood’s Family’ lived on one side of this exclusive space. Trees were planted and grew large in the Square giving rise to the saying “ You cannot see the Woods for the trees”

Soon we will be able to see the ‘Woods’ again when our wonderful gifted trees disappear. This will not be the dogs fault as it is well-known they chew bark  for medicinal purposes.

Today I noticed the pathetic attempt of our Parks Department to stop this dog damage by placing around the trunks some simple wire link wrapping.

The wire has been pushed to one side and has not stopped further damage.
The wire has been pushed to one side and has not stopped further damage.
Here's a properly protected young tree l spotted on land alongside St Mary's Church at Claverton. Click on images to enlarge.
Here’s a properly protected young tree l spotted on land alongside St Mary’s Church at Claverton. Click on images to enlarge.

What is needed urgently is the damage areas treated and a ring of Estate Railing permanently welded and rooted around the trees, some distance from the bark.’

Terry says he was responsible for many listed trees in the City of Westminster but that ‘ clearly the City of Bath is not giving enough importance to our  arboricultural heritage.’

The Virtual Museum took its own look around today and can confirm both the chewing and the efforts to protect many of the trees from further damage.

queen square
Queen Square – John Wood the Elder 1728-36

Queen Square was John Wood the Elder’s first major project in the city and was built between 1728 and 1736. It set fresh standards for urban development – both in scale and boldness. It’s greatest innovation was the treatment of the whole side of a square as one palace-like façade.

This Wood did on the north side – a terrace of seven houses that looks anything but. It’s palatial façade dominated the enclosed space with the East and West sides looking like wings enclosing a forecourt. It offered domestic grandeur and exclusivity to the well-to-do flocking to the city to enjoy its delights.

A badly damaged tree
A badly damaged tree

Though this privileged space is now just part of the choked traffic route through Bath it is still an architectural gem. In its centre an enclosed and much-loved grassland with trees and an obelisk erected by Beau Nash in honour of a visit by Frederick, Prince of Wales.

The wire protection that has been applied
The wire protection that has been applied

The parkland in its centre was given to the City in 1948 by the owners and occupiers of premises in Queen Square in memory of those citizens who were killed in air raids in 1942.

IMG_5608
A vandalised penalty notice

I notice several small notices – two of them vandalised – telling people that dogs should be kept on leads or owners would be subject to a fine of up to £100.

Obviously there is no one to enforce this and one cannot help wondering – with so much parkland nearby – why dogs aren’t banned from the lawn anyway.

Compactor bins like 'guardian angels'
Compactor bins like ‘guardian angels’

It is a small and popular area for people.

The VMB  cannot help wondering why the two solar rubbish bins that have been installed have been positioned – like guardian angels – either side of the pathway leading from the entrance on the south side towards the obelisk. They are ugly and anything but graceful. There are no bins  at all on the north side.

What do visitors to Queen Square and the Virtual Museum think?