Spray, splodge and dodge.

The main pathway up to the front of the Holburne Museum.
The main pathway up to the front of the Holburne Museum.

Followers of the Virtual Museum will know l hate so-called pavement stencils. Messy graffiti that disfigures our historic city. It just looks bad and – as the rain falls and people smudge the outlines – it just gets worse and worse.

More stencilled footprints leading to the Victoria Art Gallery.
More stencilled footprints leading to the Victoria Art Gallery.

The latest examples l found on the main path leading up to the Holburne Museum and the pavement surrounding the outside of the Victoria Art Gallery.

Apparently its all part of ‘Rome around Bath’ – a marketing campaign organised by the Bath Museum Partnership – with funding from Arts Council England!

It includes leaflets and posters, digital campaigns and – it would seem – stencils. It’s the successor to the ‘Hot Bath, Cool Museums’ marketing campaign last year.

The 'Rome around Bath museums' leaflet.
The ‘Rome around Bath museums’ leaflet.

All the museums are included in the promotion – including the Council ones. The campaign is listed on the Visit Bath website: http://visitbath.co.uk/things-to-do/rome-around-bath

While l applaud any effort to ‘market’ our fine collection of specialist museums I have to say how can young people be told not to write on walls when the  grown-ups are busy spraying all over the floor??

A closer look at the Holburne graffiti. Click on images to enlarge.
A closer look at the Holburne graffiti. Click on images to enlarge.

This is a World Heritage city. We should be proud of it. Every bit of it is precious. There is enough rubbish blowing about without this.

Ironically just been watching Reese Witherspoon in the 2004 film version of Vanity Fair – shot at locations in Bath including the Holburne and Great Pulteney Street.

These are backdrops we value for tourist income – don’t spoil them.

It’s not enough to say it’s temporary. It’s the mindset that you think it’s OK to do this in the first place.

The cut back laurel hedge by the canal.
The cut back laurel hedge by the canal.

Meanwhile interested in knowing how people feel about the cutting back of laurel in Sydney Gardens where views of the canal are certainly being opened up. I like it.

The laurel will recover at a more respectable height. It’s all to do with park management. At least for as long as the local council feels it can afford to pay.

The Network Rail barriers in Sydney Gardens are coming down.
The Network Rail barriers in Sydney Gardens are coming down.

Elsewhere in the park the barriers around the railway line that also cuts through this former Georgian pleasure garden are starting to come down at the end of Network Rail’s six-week programme of works ahead of electrification.

Can’t wait to see the designs being considered for the brackets to hold the power cable through this heritage site.

Maybe the whole of Bath might be allowed to vote on them rather than individual organisations.

The puddle-covered towpath into Bath.
The puddle-covered towpath into Bath.

The other path leading into the park is the towpath along the Kennet and Avon Canal. Ironically B&NES has a grant – aimed at encouraging cycling – to spend for the benefit of all users of the towpath. Not everyone likes the cyclists but then not every cyclist likes the dogs that wander freely across their path.

Plans for resurfacing the towpath were put on show at Larkhall on Saturday for people to see and comment upon.
Plans for resurfacing the towpath were put on show at Larkhall on Saturday for people to see and comment upon.

Went to the consultation in Larkhall yesterday where l was told very few people had complained about the proposals.

A steady flow but not exactly the sort of queues Banky’s Dismaland has been getting down at Weston super Mare.

This – of course -is all about consideration for others and a decent path so ALL can enjoy a mud and water free walk or cycle into town.

If you don’t like the bikes then campaign for B&NES to make proper provision for them along the streets of this city. The car is not sacred anymore.

The towpath has an un-enforceable code of conduct which asks cyclists to go slow and dog walkers to use a lead but there is no one to police this or hand out an on-the-spot-fine.

To all speeding cyclists and those without bell or helmet – l say slow down and safety-up. To all dog walkers not using leads l say get your pet under control. While those out with the family must put their mobiles away for long enough to keep an eye on their toddlers.

To all of those who do have consideration for others – thanks and now spread the word.


  1. 1. Laurels are a pain and a pest and a gigantic weed. I’d get rid of them altogether. They’re not even a genuine laurel – they belong to the prunus family and are very Victorian. Variegated ones are OK because they don’t grow so big, Laurel nobilis – the true laurel – is quite different.

    2. I agree about the consultation re Sydney Gardens, but don’t hold your breath.

    3. Towpath and Dog walking. Until Sustrans came along, the towpath had become a footpath (see Queen of Waters page 102, bottom right) and most walkers were very happy with it like that. We could cheerfully walk dogs. I was doing it in the early 1960s with my poodle. (see the introduction to Queen of Waters.) Now the canal is open again, that obviously is not an option – it needs to be wide. Nevertheless, I think to tell dog walkers now to keep their dogs on a lead because they inconvenience you is a bit cheeky and not conducive to encouraging co-operation. If it hadn’t been for people like me and my dog, the path might have closed, possibly taking the canal with it. We and people with boats – like Lt-Cmdr Wray-Bliss – kept the dream alive and many of us raised the money to help do it.

    If cyclists are going at a reasonable speed, dogs tend not to chase them. Some dogs live on boats. Do you want them kept on leads all the time? Most boaters are dead against this ‘improvement’, even those that cycle. Children also live on boats – should they be kept in special creches so that they don’t get in the way? I’m keen to reduce car use, but I really don’t think the cyclists have thought this through. Above all, they and the CRT (which seems to hate boaters anyway) appear to have forgotten about mooring pins. Sometimes the bank is in too bad a state to put pins in – so they go in or near the towpath. And there are parts of the towpath – near Wootton Rivers, for example – which urgently need repair. It’s bad even for walkers in walking boots – mile after mile of it. That’s where the money needs to go, for the benefit of all.

    There seems to be a misconception among cyclists that you can get on the towpath and cycle all the way to London. You can’t. There are places where you have to get off because the path is so bad or goes through fields (at Hungerford it goes across the very beautiful common.) As I say in QoW, you need to use the National Cycle Route instead. There are other parts of the 87 mile towpath (Reading to Hanham) which are in much greater need of repair. That’s my principle objection to this. It’s like spending money on a sticking plaster for a minor graze on a man who is bleeding to death elsewhere.

    Finally, I think people in Bathwick – where most of the affected towpath is – want to know why the council is not giving us a special exhibition. Could you please tweet this request to @bathnes. Thank you. Rant over.

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