Two sides to a square

Is there turfing to come nest Spring?

Not the best time of the year l know to spend too much time relaxing in the enclosed garden in the middle of Queen Square.

Queen Square and the original single pathway in - minus its bins.
Queen Square and the original single pathway in – minus its bins. Click on images to enlarge.

Having just spent £100,000 on re-doing and extending the paths within it – and creating two new entrances – l am sure B&NES will be giving the grassed areas some attention as soon as warmer weather arrives.

I am also hoping the new saplings that were promised to replace the felling of a mature hornbeam – to help open up the internal space – will also put in an appearance at some point and at some central city location.

It all looks a little bleak and barren. Things were not helped by graffiti daubing on the 18th century obelisk and – although the Graffiti Unit were quick to respond – it does look like further work will be necessary to obliterate the damage.

The obelisk with initial cleaning completed
The obelisk with initial cleaning completed

At the end of the day – what can you do to make people care enough about this historic space to want to protect it. To keep an eye on what happens within it and act as long-term guardians.

The only person so far who seems to be doing that is the Jane Austen Centre’s Mr Bennet – Martin Salter – who can keep an eye on the garden from his pitch at the bottom of Gay Street.

I made a Freedom of Information request to try to get the final bill for Queen Square improvements.

I was told – a few weeks ago – it wasn’t available – as contractors had not submitted their invoice at that point. However, it was thought the work would come out at a little under £100,000.

Work underway on re-shaping a crossing point at the Victoria Park end of Queen Square.
Work underway on re-shaping a crossing point at the Victoria Park end of Queen Square.

I do not know if the road works that have started at the Victoria Park corner  also come out of this budget.

The idea here is to create a crossing that is geared more towards cyclists and pedestrians coming into the square at this point.

Re-modelling a crossing point to help cyclists and pedestrians
Re-modelling a crossing point to help cyclists and pedestrians. Click on images to enlarge.

That is good to know and its also good to hear that this year’s Boules Tournament will involve an experimental closing-to-traffic of two sides of the square.

If it works – without creating major traffic disruption – it’s an idea that could become more of a permanent feature.

Handing back more of the space to the people of Bath.

Perhaps l have no idea of what exactly £100,000 will buy but now – as l am hearing that £250,000 will shortly be set aside for improvements  to Sydney Gardens  (and  based on what has happened in Queen Square) – l am not sure how much of a difference that will make.

The main driveway through Sydney Gardens
The main driveway through Sydney Gardens

This last national remnant of a Georgian pleasure garden – or Vauxhall – is also going to be affected by work Network Rail will be carrying out as part of the multi-million pound electrification of the London to Bristol and Cardiff line.

During the summer  a ditch/moat will be created alongside the line through the gardens to keep people away from the high-voltage dangers of passing trains.

The idea is not to block the view that Brunel – the engineer of the line – had deliberately created so the promenading public could watch his marvellous new means of fast transportation pass by.

The Great Western line through Sydney Gardens.
The Great Western line through Sydney Gardens.

Will Network Rail be contributing to any improvement works in Sydney Gardens?

Their intervention this year is certainly going to transform the look of at least a section of it.

Apart from the ditch – bridges that cross the line will have to have raised sides.

I also thought there was talk of a Heritage Lottery Fund application to help pay for a refurbishment of this unique remnant of Bath’s Georgian social past.

Sydney Gardens
Sydney Gardens

The Virtual Museum would be keen to hear your thoughts on the matter and also where you think money could be best spent.

I certainly think the area needs lighting and a new surround fence to maybe cut down on the amount of litter people throw across the low surrounding stone wall.

Over to you.