Bath communities organise own gallery.

A new and permanent community history project gallery has opened at the Museum of Bath at Work.

The Knowing Your Place Gallery consists of a series of displays which have been created from raw material provided by local residents in twelve districts of the city.

Widcombe - V is for viaduct. Express Pullman train pulling out of Bath Spa station in 1962.
Widcombe – V is for viaduct. Express Pullman train pulling out of Bath Spa station in 1962.
Chairman of Trustees at Museum of Bath at Work Trevor Turpin and Museum Director Stuart Burroughs at the opening
Chairman of Trustees at Museum of Bath at Work Trevor Turpin and Museum Director Stuart Burroughs at the opening

Public meetings in the twelve areas were held to describe the project and Director Stuart Burroughs explained the idea:

‘ We asked local residents to look closely at their area and identify and then suggest an alphabetical list of all the features of their locality they felt were most important and that they felt should be celebrated.

Bathampton: Clarence Toghill, the Toghill family were famous farmers in Bathampton at Holcombe Farm
Bathampton: Clarence Toghill, the Toghill family were famous farmers in Bathampton at Holcombe Farm

The only proviso was that only one item – a local building, personality, natural feature- could be suggested to represent each letter of the alphabet. We then created a pictorial display with text captions written by them. There are 312 photos from 312 suggestions!

Oldfield Park - F is for Flower Day. The annual flower festival in Moorland Road.
Oldfield Park – F is for Flower Day. The annual flower festival in Moorland Road.

The intention was to present, to visitors and other residents alike, an alternative exhibition on Bath – free from all the traditional associations of Georgian elegance for example-which had been created by the residents themselves.

Bathford J is for Jail
Bathford J is for Jail
Widcombe T is for toll bridge
Widcombe T is for toll bridge

This is a change for us, habitually the museum staff create an exhibition and present this to the public.

In this case it was the other way around -the public presented us with the exhibition – so to speak!’

The exhibition is a permanent feature and the twelve areas are, Bathford, Batheaston, Bathwick, Larkhall & Walcot, Lansdown & Weston, Twerton, Combe Down & Odd Down, Southdown & Englishcombe, the City Centre, Widcombe & Lyncombe, Bathampton and Oldfield Park.

It occupies the entire Top Floor Display Hall.

Admission is free with admission to the museum.

I asked Stuart Burroughs if this was also a subtle way of making people more aware of the history and heritage within their community and encouraging them to care for it.