Getting the public view on the Pulteney Pod.

Getting the public view on the Pulteney Pod.

Time to open a Virtual Museum of Bath debate on what ‘cyber-viewers’ think of the AQ-Y (AquEye) idea of putting a viewing pod beside Pulteney Weir at the end of a crane-like (but slender and contemporary) structure that would lift viewers up into the air and then bring them down again.

The pod has been designed in Bath by award-winning architect Nicholas Stubbs and l am going to quote from the web-site that promotes it.

This is a mock up of how the pod would look if positioned at Pulteney Weir. © www.aq-y.com

This is a mock up of how the pod would be positioned at Pulteney Weir. © http://www.aq-y.co Click on images to enlarge.

AQ-Y is a revolving glass observation pod suspended between two slim, carbon fibre masts that rises from a horizontal position to a height of 65m, offering 360-degree views over the city’s Georgian rooftops.

Proposed to be built on Pulteney Weir Island, just down from Bath’s famous 18th century Pulteney Bridge, AQ-Y’s contemporary glass capsule will accommodate up to 25 guests embarking from the Parade Gardens.

The capsule will swing out over the river and in just 20 seconds will sweep passengers up above the roof tops to AQ-Y’s full height of 65m, giving guests stunning views over the Georgian city, including Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, the Bath Rugby stadium and the seven hills of Bath.

The full AQ-Y experience will take 20 minutes and could be enjoyed by over 250,000 people a year. Subject to planning permission, AQ-Y will begin operation in Spring / Summer 2017.”

Please take a look at the website yourselves via  http://www.aq-y.com/about/about-aqueye/#sthash.IvgTFAd2.dpuf

Everything of course would depend on two things. Raising the capital to build the structure and getting planning permission to erect it. The project says it’s been welcomed by many in the city – including a wide range of businesses and organisations.

Pulteney Bridge and Weir

Pulteney Bridge and Weir

AQ-Y use their website to explain how they will raise the capital. Again l quote directly as follows:

“Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way of raising finance for new products and projects by asking a large number of people for a small amount of money to help fund and show support for new products and projects. Crowdfunding is also helpful for market validation.”

Hon Alderman David Dixon

Hon Alderman Dave Dixon

My B&NES insider tells me there would not be any official council comment until after a planning application is submitted but entering the fray now is local businessman Dave Dixon.

He is a former B&NES councillor and deputy leader – and recently became one of several former serving members to be awarded Honorary Alderman/woman status for services to Bath.

Here’s Dave’s point of view and l hope to hear what others think too!

I know the project team are keen for as many people as possible to examine their plans and – hopefully – support their aims.They will welcome a debate if it keeps the project in the public eye.  Their ‘crowdfunding’ idea will be launched in a month or so. It is a fair bet they will be looking at alternative sites but will have Pulteney Weir as their main objective.

Midland Bridge re-opened.

Midland Bridge re-opened.

Bath’s Midland Bridge has re-opened –  a week ahead of schedule.

Midland Bridge

Midland Bridge

Over the past seven months Bath & North East Somerset Council has spent £1 million refurbishing the historic structure to ensure its longevity.

The bridge supports the important B3118 Midland Bridge Road link from the Lower Bristol Road to the Pinesway gyratory into Bath city centre at Green Park.

Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “Midland Bridge is an extremely important link to the city; the refurbishment was vital to ensure its future integrity and prolong its serviceable life.”

The refurbishment works involved removing the existing paint coating to all steelwork, replacing the bridge deck waterproofing membrane and movement joints, undertaking repairs and re-painting to restore the structure to its former glory. During the work, 150 tonnes of grit was used to blast the metal surfaces, 160 tonnes of scaffolding was erected and 1,800 litres of paint used.

The works were carried out in collaboration with Raymond Brown Construction Limited following a competitive tender process.

Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of the Council said: “One of our administration’s top priorities is to improve local transport – making it easier for residents, businesses and visitors to get around our area. The work carried out on Midland Bridge will ensure it serves the city well into the future.”

The steel lattice girder bridge was originally installed in 1905 by the Corporation of the City of Bath, and was opened on 12th December 1905 by Alderman A. Taylor.

Councillor Warren, Councillor Clarke and Kevin Valentine, Divisional Director at Raymond Brown Construction will officially reopen Midland Bridge at 4pm on 1 October. Following the ceremony traffic management will be removed from the bridge and it will be fully reopened to traffic on Friday 2 October, a week ahead of schedule.

Can you spot a forgery?

Can you spot a forgery?

Can you spot a forgery? Throughout October the Victoria Art Gallery is giving visitors the chance to turn detective.

Bath's Victoria Art Gallery.

Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery.

The Gallery, which is run by Bath & North East Somerset Council, has hidden a forgery among the exquisite art collection in the Upper Gallery. Visitors are being asked to decide which exhibit is a fake.

The forgery of a famous painting is by renowned artist John Myatt, who was involved in the UK’s biggest art con and is now one of the country’s fastest selling artists.

Those who are able to correctly identify his work can enter a prize draw to win a signed, limited edition print by Myatt , ‘Impression, Sunrise’, in the style of Claude Monet. The print is worth £1,750 and has been donated by Washington Green Fine Art.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “We hope visitors to the Victoria Art Gallery will take up the challenge of identifying a forged artwork while enjoying and exploring the delightful collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts in the Upper Gallery.”

John Myatt’s infamous career path, which led Scotland Yard to call him “one of the greatest art forgers of the 20th century”, still holds great fascination for his audiences. Over a period of nine years, beginning in 1986, Myatt faked up to 200 works. Only 60 have ever been recovered by police. Many are still hanging in museums and private collections, where they are enjoyed as originals.

The upper gallery at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.

The upper gallery at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.

The forged painting will be on display at the Victoria Art Gallery from 1 to 25 October 2015. Entry to the permanent galleries is free.

There’s also an opportunity to hear from the artist himself. On Tuesday 13 October John Myatt will be taking part in a discussion entitled “Fraud in Art”. He will be joined by criminal lawyer Andrew Banks in the debate chaired by Professor David Blake. For more details visit: www.victoriagal.org.uk/friends-events.

The display and discussion are kindly supported by Washington Green Fine Art and its nationwide network of retail galleries: Castle Galleries and Castle Fine Art. Castle Fine Art, Bath on Old Bond Street will be holding an exhibition of John Myatt’s new pieces painted in the style of the great art masters from 13 to 25 October 2015. For more information visit: http://www.castlegalleries.com.

Step out on the Dell’s aerial walkway!

Step out on the Dell’s aerial walkway!

Just a little bit of fencing still to build.

Just a little bit of fencing still to build.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Park’s Department has opened its new aerial walkway at the Great Dell – providing a series of breath-taking viewpoints, among the trees and across Royal Victoria Park.

The Great Dell is a sunken wooded area, situated in the north part of these historic 46 acres  alongside Weston Road. It is a former stone quarry, designed by William Beckford.

The newly restored walkway.

The newly restored walkway.

It was planted out in the 1840s with a collection of unusual and specimen trees, including large North American conifers. The walkway was built 20 years ago but closed in 2011.

Recent picture of the newly restored aerial walkway.

Recent picture of the newly restored aerial walkway.

The £74,000 restoration of the walkway will ensure that this special viewpoint can once again be enjoyed by residents and visitors.

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “I’m delighted that residents and visitors can once again enjoy this forgotten corner of Royal Victoria Park.

The sort of view you will get.

The sort of view you will get.

The views from the aerial walkway through the trees and across the park are stunning and I’m sure it will prove to be extremely popular year round.”

Cllr Veal will officially open the restored aerial walkway on Monday 5 October at 2pm at the entrance to the Great Dell.

Recent wet weather - this was taken a week ago - hasn't help in shift materials but the current dry spell has helped speed things on.

Recent wet weather – this was taken a week ago – hasn’t helped in shifting materials but the current dry spell has put things up a gear.

Meanwhile, work is also nearing completion on a new, colourful wildflower meadow in the middle of Royal Victoria Park. Rock and rubble excavated from the site of the refurbished skate park, which would otherwise have gone to landfill, has been recycled to help create the new meadow.

It’s design will also help to prevent unauthorised access onto the park, obstructing vehicles and preventing anti-social behaviour.

Building the new meadow area.

Building the new meadow area.

The new ‘Gait-Wilson Skate Park Meadows’ will provide ideal conditions for rare wildflowers and will be sown with seeds sourced from nearby St Catherine’s Valley. The seeds should begin to germinate in Spring.

5 star opening for Gainsborough Hotel.

5 star opening for Gainsborough Hotel.

The Mayor of Bath Cllr William Sandry had a five-star dinner to look forward to this week – with the official opening of the luxury Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel in Beau Street.

The flags are up above the Beau Street entrance to the new Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel. Click on images to enlarge.

The flags are up above the Beau Street entrance to the new Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel. Click on images to enlarge.

It’s owned by YTL a Malaysian-based group who have a whole collection of luxury ‘spa resorts’ around the world.

They also manage Bath’s Thermae Spa and own Wessex Water.

This new five-star hotel offers its own supply of natural thermal water and has a display of some of the silver coins that made up the Beau Street Hoard.

It’s the fifth largest hoard ever found in Britain and the largest ever discovered in a British Roman town.

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 17,500 coins.

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 17,500 coins.

They were discovered on the site of the hotel’s new pool.

The 17,577 coins span the period from 32BC to 274AD and were found in eight separate money bags which were fused together.

The hoard now belongs to Bath and many coins are on display at the Roman Baths Museum.

Perking up the parks.

Perking up the parks.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is investing £115,000 on improving facilities on some of the area’s play parks.

The first play parks to receive a facelift will be Broomfield and Brickfields in Bath.

At Broomfield, the plan is to put in place a new multi-play unit. Local people are being given the chance to have a look at the options and have their say at a drop-in event at Broomfield between 10am and 12noon on Saturday 26 September.

At Brickfields, plans include a new basket swing and a low roundabout for toddlers. The area under the slide will also be resurfaced.

Other parks set to see investment include Alexandra Park, Bath, where a new noughts and crosses play panel is being put in, and Chalfield Park in Keynsham, which is being resurfaced to improve play for children, making it safer.

Play area at Royal Victoria Park.

Play area at Royal Victoria Park.

The children’s play area at Royal Victoria Park is also set to have new play equipment including:

· Mobilus – a new high rotator for older children
· Climbing Wall – new panels, handgrips and surfacing at the top of the wall
· Coach and Horses – a new toddler multi-play unit.

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Our play park facilities are well used and enjoyed by our younger residents. The new equipment has been carefully selected to ensure users can continue having fun, safely.”

Work to improve play parks across the district will get underway in October and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Over the past 3 years Bath & North East Somerset Council has carried out £435,000 of improvements on play parks. Parks to have benefitted include Camerton, Clandown, Haydon, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton and Writhlington.

Letting in the light.

Letting in the light.

The canal towpath through Bath's Sydney Gardens.

The canal towpath through Bath’s Sydney Gardens. Click on images to enlarge.

Two Bath public spaces appeal to me so much on a morning when the sky is almost cobalt blue and there is an early autumn nip in the air.

Today’s route took me first through Sydney Gardens – via the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

This former industrial waterway – designed by John Rennie – was cut across this former Georgian pleasure gardens in 1799.

It’s now a popular route into town for walkers and cyclists who will shortly be hearing what decision has been made over how the towpath from Grosvenor Bridge and into the city centre is going to be ‘improved.’

Looking at the clearance work from the Sydney Gardens side of the Holburne Museum.

Looking at the clearance work from the Sydney Gardens side of the Holburne Museum.

Further down the park – and as part of a general scheme to cut back some of the undergrowth and allow more light in and better internal  viewpoints – l have to say l am impressed at the trim being given to growth around the gateway that now separates the Holburne Museum from the rest of the park.

Looking at the opened up view now from the Holburne and into Sydney Gardens.

Looking at the opened up view now from the Holburne and into Sydney Gardens.

The building was originally built as the Sydney Hotel and – with concerts and it’s now disappeared dining wings – was part of the entertainment on offer to those who paid for admission to the grounds.

Into town and an update on the Saw Close demolition site where a hotel, casino and restaurants are due to be built. The site manager tells me archaeologists are due on site early next month to start an extensive rescue operation before new footings are put in.

A peep inside the Saw Close construction site.

A peep inside the Saw Close construction site.

They will be concentrating – to begin with – on the remains of a pipe factory – of which two kilns have already been located.

Autumn sunshine through the trees at Royal Victoria Park - laid out by Edward Davis in 1829.

Autumn sunshine through the trees at Royal Victoria Park – laid out by Edward Davis in 1829.

Finally l was crossing part of Royal Victoria Park – laid out by Edward Davis in 1829 – on my way to a friend’s charity coffee morning – and had to get off my bike to capture some of the amazing early autumn light filtering through the trees.