Saw Close dig brings out the crowds

Saw Close dig brings out the crowds

One hundred and one through the gates in 20 minutes!

One hundred and one through the gates in 20 minutes!

Pipe expert Marek Lewcun showing people were the kilns lay.

Pipe expert Marek Lewcun showing people were the kilns lay. Click on images to enlarge.

One hundred and one people through the gates in the first twenty minutes.

Not bad for the start of the special open morning arranged today (Saturday, October 31st between 10 am and 2 pm) for people to see what Cotswold Archaeology have uncovered on the Saw Close site which will eventually support a casino, restaurants and hotel.

Sanctus Site Manager – John Cossins-Price – was on hand to welcome and count people in. He was amazed by the early response.

Sanctus Site Manager, John Cossins-Price.

Sanctus Site Manager, John Cossins-Price.

Followers of the Virtual Museum will know that we were given a sneak preview of the remains of a pipe factory – demolished in 1859 – that had lain undisturbed under a school playground at Saw Close for 156 years.

Pipe expert Marek Lewcun showing people were the kilns lay.

Pipe expert Marek Lewcun showing people were the kilns lay.

The site simply became part of the segregated play areas created for boys and girls at the re-building – in 1860 – of the adjacent Bluecoat School. An institution where children – including architect John Wood – have been educated for four hundred years.

More artefact displays for the public to see.

More artefact displays for the public to see.

Now the area is being redeveloped archaeologists are being allowed to record what is underneath before the piles are carefully sunk to support the new buildings.

The good news is, as they discover where things are – and that includes very rare pipe kilns that are almost complete – the construction above will be undertaken in a way that preserves all that is underneath and without causing further damage.

Pipe making began in Bath in the late 1650’s though tobacco had arrived in the country a hundred years before. By the 19th century, there were small factories all over the city.

Getting a close up of one of the clay pipes.

Getting a close up of one of the clay pipes.

Special clay would be imported in barrels from Devon and brought up the River Avon to Bath. The pipes were shaped and fired using local coal to heat the kilns.

In 1836, the Bridewell Lane Factory – here on the Saw Close – was taken over by Joseph Sants and by 1841 he employed at lea 8 people. Ten years later it was ten or more.

A pile of excavated clay pipes.

A pile of excavated clay pipes. Click on images to enlarge.

However, the factory was doomed to closure when a renewal of its lease was refused on the grounds of the noisome nature of the industry and complaints about smoke from the factory.

Today’s visitors were able to survey the site from a safe distance and question the archaeologists who were happy to explain exactly what it is people were seeing.

I was grateful to archaeologist Liam Wilson for a chance to look down on the basement remains of numbers 9 and 10 Bridwell Lane.

To the right is the rubble-filled basement of what was No 9 Bridewell Lane. In the centre is the loo! Click on images to enlarge.

To the right is the rubble-filled basement of what was No 9 Bridewell Lane. In the centre is the loo! Click on images to enlarge.

The pathway got its name from the ‘brides-well’ – a prison for vagrants – that it led to.

He told me Number 9 was first occupied in 1625 when the property – described as a tenement and a garden – was leased to John  and Elizabeth Clement and their son Simon for an annual rent of 1s and 4d.

The basement is filled with rubble from the demolished building above and archaeologists do hope to get through some of it. There is evidence of a fireplace and they have also uncovered the outside steps leading down to it – plus an outside but covered toilet.

Liam said they had found gun flints in that area and can surmise that is how someone was keeping himself  temporarily occupied. While resident in the privy, he was busy chipping away at his block of flintstone.

No 10 alongside was part of the pipe making factory now excavated and on show to the people coming onto the site to see.

The broken terracotta mystery plaque.

The broken terracotta mystery plaque.

Another archaeologist on site is Marek Lewcun – an expert on clay pipes. Amongst their finds was a rather broken terracotta plaque bearing the classically stylised profile of a bearded Victorian gentleman.

It’s made of the same clay used at the factory and maybe was a trial oven ‘firing’ to test another product before offering for sale to the public as they turned to cigarettes and away from clay pipes.

Some background material on clay pipe making in Bath.

Some background material on clay pipe making in Bath.

Who this man was and what purpose the object served, remains a mystery but maybe someone attending today’s opening can shed new light on the subject.

The land around the back of the old Gala Bingo Hall - once a Palace of Varieties - which will also be surveyed by Cotswold Archaeology.

The land around the back of the old Gala Bingo Hall – once a Palace of Varieties – which will also be surveyed by Cotswold Archaeology.

The developers are obviously anxious to get on with things but responsible enough to let the archaeologists survey things first.

It’s also important that these digs also give them an idea of how firm the ground is beneath the new development.

I am sure as digging spreads to other parts of the site there will be more to show the public at some point in the future.

My thanks to Simon Cox – Head of Fieldwork at Cotswold Archaeology – for letting me know that – by the time they closed the doors at 2 pm – 1,510 people had been to see the work.

Remembrance Day Service at Haycombe Cemetery, Bath

Remembrance Day Service at Haycombe Cemetery, Bath

Chairman of B&NES, Cllr Ian Gilchrist.

Chairman of B&NES, Cllr Ian Gilchrist.

The Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Cllr Ian Gilchrist, will attend a Remembrance Day service on Wednesday November 11, at Haycombe Cemetery in Bath.

The service will begin at 10.45am on the grassed area between the Cross of Sacrifice and the Blitz Graves within the cemetery grounds and will incorporate the two minutes silence at 11am.

Cllr Gilchrist said: “I would be delighted if as many people as possible joined us at the Remembrance Day service. This is a time for the people of Bath and the surrounding area to join the nation in remembering those who have given their lives so gallantly. It is also a time to remember those who lost their lives during the Bath Blitz in 1942.”

Refreshments will be provided in the Burial Chapel after the service.

Bath’s Feminist Mayoress remembered

Bath’s Feminist Mayoress remembered

The plaque on the turbo-generators.

The plaque on the turbo-generators. Click on images to enlarge.

A brass plaque which was attached to steam turbines used to generate electricity for Bath has been donated to the Museum of Bath at Work.

The plaque records the starting of the steam turbo-generators at the Dorchester Street electricity works in February 1927.

At the time, the Mayoress was Sarah Grand, who shared duties with the Mayor of Bath Cedric Chivers – who was a widower – and on the plaque is recorded as Madam Sarah Grand.

Madam Sarah Grand, Mayoress of Bath, 1925 © Bath in Time - Bath Central Library Collection

Madam Sarah Grand, Mayoress of Bath, 1925
© Bath in Time – Bath Central Library Collection

The plaque disappeared when the electricity generating station, which opened in 1890, closed in 1966 and was thought lost.

The turbo-generators installed at Dorchester Street replaced antiquated steam engines and enabled a greater network of AC electricity to be supplied over the entire city region.

The turbo generators photographed in 1950.

The turbo-generators photographed in 1950.

The generating station was demolished in 1967 and its site is now occupied by the bus station.

Sarah Grand was born Frances Clark and became a famous feminist writer and commentator at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

Her two most famous and most popular books – The Beth Book and the Heavenly Twins- were both published before 1900.

After much travelling and some controversy Sarah Grand moved to Bath in 1920 and became Mayoress six times until she moved to Calne, where she died in 1943.

Where your money goes.

Where your money goes.

The Council are holding a series of budget consultation meetings across the Communities of Bath and North East Somerset. These meetings provide people with the opportunity to hear about the Councils financial plans for the next four years. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and feed into the discussions on the budget proposals.

moneyThis year there will be five meetings which are open to the public and are being hosted by the Connecting Communities Area Forums. To help us plan for the numbers attending this year’s meetings please can you complete our online form

· Bathavon Area Forum – 19th November 6-7.30pm – The Sixth Form Building, St Gregory’s Secondary School, Combe Hay Lane, Bath BA2 8PA
· Chew Valley Area Forum – 23rd November 6-7.30pm – The Library, Chew Valley Secondary School, Chew Lane, Chew Magna, Bristol, BS40 8QB
· Keynsham Area Forum – 24th November 6-7.30pm – The Community Space, Market Walk, Keynsham, Bristol, BS31 1FS
· Bath City Forum – 26th November 6-7.30pm – The Banqueting Room, The Guildhall, High Street, Bath BA1 5AW
· Somer Valley Area Forum – 30th November 6-7.30pm – The Conygre Hall, North Rd, Timsbury, Bath BA2 0JQ

Following each meeting (at 8pm) there will be additional presentations on the West of England Joint Spatial Strategy and the B&NES Placemaking Plan (Green Spaces).

Should you have any questions or comments you wish to make on the budget proposals please contact:
Mark Hayward on 01225 396975 or e-mail mark_hayward@bathnes.gov.uk

First Impressions

First Impressions

The Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum

Bath’s Holburne Museum celebrates its 2016 centenary with an amazing artistic line-up – including figurative works by some of the artists who exhibited at the first Impressionist Exhibition in Paris in 1874.

It was a unique – ‘new-wave’ – experience for a viewing public and art critics who saw ‘modern’ works painted in a technique that looked unfinished to many of them.

 Young Woman Seated, 1876, Pierrre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Oil on canvas, 66 x 51cm © The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

One of the works to be displayed…
Young Woman Seated, 1876,
Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919),
Oil on canvas, 66 x 51cm
© The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham. Click on images to enlarge.

Capturing Life – which will run from 13 February through to June 5th – is one of three new exhibitions to mark 100 years since Sir William Holburne’s collection moved to its current home on Great Pulteney Street in Bath.

There will also be an exhibition featuring the animals works and fantasy pieces of George Stubbs and an exhibition featuring silver and its visual interpretation through art – from the 16th century to today.

The Museum will also be organising contemporary commissions and public events in the Grade I listed building, which was fully restored with the addition of a glass and ceramic extension by Eric Parry Architects in 2011.

Impressionism: Capturing Life, Stubbs and the Wild and Silver: Light and Shade make up the special ticketed programme in the main exhibitions space, complemented by new work from artist Djordje Ozbolt, whose incisive responses to the Collection will appear around the Museum, as well as focused shows in the Davidson and Wirth galleries.

Jennifer Scott, Director of the Holburne Museum, said: “2016 is an exciting moment in our history as a vibrant cultural hub at the centre of Bath. We are delighted to mark this with three original exhibitions of outstanding quality, curated in-house to celebrate the best of Britain’s national and regional collections.”

Here is the Exhibitions Programme in detail:

Impressionism: Capturing Life (13 February – 5 June 2016) unites 29 masterpieces from British public collections to celebrate

The Holburne Museum at the Sydney Gardens end of Great Pulteney Street.

The Holburne Museum at the Sydney Gardens end of Great Pulteney Street.

the Impressionists’ observations of humanity, curated by Director Jennifer Scott. The show centres on figurative paintings by the artists that exhibited at the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874, including Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. Significant loans from, among others, Tate, The National Gallery, London and The Scottish National Gallery feature alongside the Holburne’s works on paper by the important but often overlooked British Impressionist Sir George Clausen, founder-member of the New English Art Club.

Stubbs and the Wild (18 June – 2 October 2016) delves into the visionary eighteenth-century world of George Stubbs through his realistic animal studies and sublime fantasy pieces. The exhibition presents the early encounters between polite Georgian society and the wild creatures and places depicted in Stubbs’ work. The uneasy relationship between the domestic and the exotic is explored through important paintings, prints and drawings by this extraordinary artist, curated by Amina Wright.

Silver: Light and Shade (22 October 2016 – 15 January 2017) tells a new story about the properties of silver, conveying its visual impact and its infinite potential for creative, design-led objects. Silver can be turned black or white, it goes red under heat; it can be combined with base and other metals, enamel or precious stones. Curated by Catrin Jones and Vanessa Brett, the exhibition will include significant loans from UK collections to reveal the aesthetic potency of silver from the sixteenth century to today.

The Holburne Museum celebrating its centenary in 2016.

The Holburne Museum celebrating its centenary in 2016.

Around the Museum

A Handful of Dust (13 February – 10 July 2016) presents the finest pastels from the Holburne’s collection, including Love Songs and Matches by John Russell and James Nelthorpe by Jean-Etienne Liotard. Because of their fragility these works on paper are rarely on display.

Linda Brothwell (18 June – 20 September 2016) this pioneer of contemporary British craft skills will create a playground of textures and colours in stone, wood and metalwork in response to the most intricate works in the Holburne’s collection.

Djordje Ozbolt (1 October 2016 – 22 January 2017) this exciting painter and sculptor will respond to the Holburne’s Old Masters with contemporary eyes and an injection of humour by selecting key areas of the collection displays to ‘invade’.

Poems of War

Poems of War

A special event remembering 1915 through poems and music is to be held at Bath’s Poetry Cafe.

The BRSLI in Queen Square.

The BRSLI in Queen Square.

The event, supported by Bath & North East Somerset Council as part of its World War 1 Centenary programme, takes place on Tuesday, November 10, at 7.30pm at the BRLSI in Queen Square, Bath.

Members of Bath Poetry Cafe will read a selection of poems written in 1915, following the year through words, images and music, as those on the frontline and at home faced ‘the darkness and the thunder and the rain’ (*) of the conflict.

Included in the evening will be patriotic songs of the time, and family photos kindly lent by local resident Mrs Roma Tomkins whose father and uncles all served in the Somerset Light Infantry.

Remembrance poppy.

Remembrance poppy.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This is the second of an annual series of events which will look at the poetry written in each year of the First World War. The event is free, but a contribution to veterans’ charities is encouraged.”

A representative of the British Legion will attend the event to introduce the charity’s work to support armed forces veterans.

*From ‘To Germany’ by Charles Hamilton Sorley

Council says residents come first!

Council says residents come first!

Growing the visitor economy is just one of the aims set out in Bath and North Somerset Council’s new Corporate Strategy which is due to be discussed by Cabinet on November 4th.

The Bath Guildhall

The Bath Guildhall

The authority has set out its plans for 2016 – 2020, committing to investing in the future of the area and putting the interests of residents first, whilst ensuring an efficient and well-run organisation.

In its draft corporate strategy ‘Bath and North East Somerset: a beautifully inventive place,’ the Council sets out a four-year delivery plan, which will also help inform the financial plan over the same period.

Council Leader, Cllr Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), said: “These are hugely challenging times for all local authorities with increasing demand for services alongside cuts in funding from the Government. We have put together a robust strategy which sets out our aims and ambitions for the next four years, enabling us to invest in the things that matter to local people. We are committed to ensuring this Council is efficient and well-run; invests in the future and puts the interests of residents first.

“We are working with and listening to our communities, focusing on the things that matter most to people. That means good quality housing residents can afford to buy; improving our local transport network, making it easier to get around our area whether on foot, car, bike or train; joined-up health and social care services for young and old; high-quality education, and strong economic growth, generating more jobs for local people.”

Cllr Tim Warren Leader of B&NES.

Cllr Tim Warren
Leader of B&NES.

The draft corporate strategy sets out how the Council will:

Invest in a strong economy and growth
Investing in the economy and local infrastructure, creating new jobs and more affordable housing are essential to prosperity. 1,650 new jobs and 920 new homes will be created through the regeneration of Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area. A new business centre to support small and medium-sized business and start-ups is being developed in Midsomer Norton, and the Council will continue to deliver regeneration in Keynsham, including employment space and additional housing. 480 affordable homes will be delivered across the area by March 2018 for those most in need, working with partners.

Ensure it runs as an effective business
By saving money in back-office services and looking at new ways of generating income, the Council will ensure it has funding to invest in key areas. For example, the Council will work to grow the visitor economy, with more markets, pop-ups and events – working with local partners.

Develop a new relationship with customers and communities
The Council will continue to work with its partner organisations and local communities to look at innovative ways of delivering services to residents, putting customers first in everything. For example, the Council will work with parish councils, communities and key partners to deliver and adopt Neighbourhood Plans by December 2015 and Placemaking Plans by December 2016.

Put in place preventative services
The Council will seek to support the most vulnerable children and adults, providing support at an early stage. It will look to intervene earlier across the full breadth of Council services to improve outcomes for local people, whilst avoiding incurring greater costs at a later date.

For example, The Your Care Your Way consultation looks at innovative ways of working with partners including NHS BaNES Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Key changes include more preventative work and early-intervention services to help people before any illnesses deteriorate or they need hospital treatment.

The corporate strategy will be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet on November 4.