The internationally important Roman Baths could benefit from further development thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarding initial support – including £168,000 development funding – to Bath & North East Somerset Council.
The green light from HLF will enable the Council’s Heritage Services to develop exciting plans for a major heritage project to convert buildings in York Street and Swallow Street into a Roman Baths Learning Centre and World Heritage Interpretation Centre, transforming the visitor experience at the Baths and dramatically improving the site’s learning offer. An existing tunnel under York Street will give school groups direct access into the heart of the Baths.
If successful at the second round, the project will also interpret and breathe new life into the currently much-overlooked Victorian spa buildings close to the Roman Baths, open up more in-situ remains for daytime visitors to see and create an underground ‘investigation zone’ for learning groups of all ages.
These improvements will allow local people and the many thousands of tourists that visit every year to rediscover the Roman, Georgian and Victorian heritage of Bath. Plans also include innovative plans to use energy recovered from waste water in the Roman Drain to heat the Centre.
The project currently called ‘The Archway Centre’ gets its name from the stone bridge that spans York Street.
Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund trustees have recognised the potential of this project. The Council takes seriously its responsibility to realise the educational potential of the Roman Baths for groups of all ages, as well as to interpret the City of Bath World Heritage Site. This initial support takes us a step closer to achieving both.”
Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “The Roman Baths are synonymous with the UK’s Roman heritage, but Bath is also home to fascinating Georgian and Victorian history which is sometimes overlooked. This project will significantly enhance this world renowned site’s offer to visitors – both from home and further afield and open up the long and intricate history of Bath. Our initial support means that detailed plans can be worked up over the coming months that will include providing first-class learning and educational provisions, regenerate currently empty and dilapidated historic buildings and create far better access for everyone to enjoy.”
You can find out more about the proposed Archway Centre at http://www.romanbaths.co.uk.