Knowing Your Place – Bath public plan own museum gallery

Alberto Simprini - Famous pianist, composer and conductor. Born in Oldfield Park

Local people have been involved in determining the form and content for a new permanent gallery at the city’s Museum of Bath at Work. The first time the public has been asked in to do the work normally done by a curator.

Called ‘Knowing Your Place: Bath and Local Distinctiveness’ it has involved them working with museum staff to make the exhibition which will be officially opened on Saturday, August 9th at 11.30 am.

A spokesperson for the Museum said: ‘Bath is a city, it would be fair to say, that has been much written about. Bookcases creak under the weight of histories of the city, many written by non-residents and repeating the same old stories of elegance and heritage that we are all familiar with.

At the Museum of Bath at Work we felt there was a need to provide a way in which residents of the city could have their say about the city – to present a guide to Bath written by those who know it best of all.

Alberto Simprini - Famous pianist, composer and conductor. Born in Oldfield Park
Alberto Semprini – Famous pianist, composer and conductor. Born in Oldfield Park

To this end the Museum applied, successfully for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the ‘Knowing Your Place: Bath and Local Distinctiveness’ project in the autumn of last year.

On October 28 1941 a Westland Whirlwind twin engine aircraft (pictured) from RAF Charmy Down was involved in a mid-air collision. The plane crashed near Manor Farm in Englishcombe and the pilot John Sample, was killed when his parachute didn't open in time.
On October 28 1941 a Westland Whirlwind twin engine aircraft (pictured) from RAF Charmy Down was involved in a mid-air collision. The plane crashed near Manor Farm in Englishcombe and the pilot John Sample, was killed when his parachute didn’t open in time.

We divided the city- and its immediate surroundings-into twelve distinct districts: Bathwick, Bathampton, Bathford, Batheaston, Combe Down& Odd Down, Twerton & Newton St Loe, Weston & Lansdown, Larkhall, The City Centre, Southdown & Englishcombe, Oldfield Park and Widcombe.

We held meetings to introduce the scheme asking local people to submit an alphabetical list of what they considered to be locally important and significant features.

These could be architectural, historical, contemporary, they could be stories, personalities, customs and traditions or natural features.

The one proviso was that only one feature could be used to represent each of the twenty six letters of the alphabet.

Weight Limit sign on road bridge on Weston High Street.
Weight Limit sign on road bridge on Weston High Street.

The suggestions were collected from each of the areas and images provided to fit with each and every alphabetical suggestions.

Arts and Crafts Angel over entrance to old St Michael's Church Hall in Walcot Street.
Arts and Crafts Angel over entrance to old St Michael’s Church Hall in Walcot Street.

With twelve areas and twenty six letters there are 312 locally distinctive features which have been identified by local people and which will be featured in this permanent exhibition.

This is a new venture for the museum as for the first time, the content of an exhibition on the city has been entirely chosen, not by the museum, but by those who know much more about where they live than anyone – the city’s own residents.

If you are interested in seeing how the city really appears – not from the perspective of a guide book- but from the people who live here- then come along to the Museum of Bath at Work from August 10th when the exhibition will be open – indefinitely.
Admission to the exhibition is free with admission to the museum.