Making an Impression.

Making an Impression.

Bath Literature Festival is in full flow and great to see Jennifer Scott – Director of the city’s Holburne Museum – is down to give a talk on Impressionism at the Guildhall on Friday, March 4th at 11.15 am.


Jennifer Scott, Director of the Holburne Museum.

You get tickets from the Visitor Information Centre for this and all other events in a packed programme. You’ll find the Centre in Abbey Courtyard.

The Holburne’s feature exhibition is currently ‘Impressionism: Capturing Life’ and Jennifer gave an interview to the Virtual Museum about it.

Holburne 2016

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

Just click on to view.

Bath’s fallen arches.

Bath’s fallen arches.

The pub sign is a great clue to how this now rather shabby road got its name. Westgate Street once led to one of the four entrances/exits to the medieval and walled city of Bath.


The West Gate pub.

It was the principal East-West thoroughfare and – according to Michael Forsyth (Pevsner Architectural Guides, Bath) – was formerly an area concerned with the reception of travellers, goods and animals.

Many tradesmen lived there and – although it lacks large-scale industry or business – the tax records do not portray it as a poor district.

Michael says: ‘Westgate Street began to be developed from the Tudor period when the city grew as a health resort, with town houses and lodgings, many with malthouses to the rear.’


The High Street end of Westgate Street.

‘At the end of the street – but not marked in any way – is the site of the medieval West Gate which – unlike the North and South gates – had direct access into the surrounding countryside without suburbs. The West gate itself was rebuilt (in 1572, according to the elder John Wood) with lodging apartments above.’


Westgate Street.

The gap where the double decker bus is going through would be roughly where the arch of the gate would have been but nowhere near a big enough opening to let this modern day road monster through.


The bus is roughly on the spot where the medieval West Gate of Bath once stood.

Wouldn’t it be nice though if somehow the old gate could be marked in some way. Maybe some visible means also of remembering the South and North ones too.


Bath’s last surviving gate.

I deliberately leave out the East gate because it is actually still with us – though hidden in a narrow submerged lane running alongside the old Empire Hotel.

This 14th-century gate is a survivor from the medieval city and originally led to the city mill and the ferry to Bathwick.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be opened up to at least pedestrian use again.



Line of Bath’s Roman wall confirmed.

Line of Bath’s Roman wall confirmed.

As a member of the Mayor of Bath’s Guild of Honorary Guides, l have been telling groups of tourists for several years that the old city wall ran up through the middle of the Saw Close road before bearing right along Upper Borough Walls.


The Saw Close road running up past the Theatre Royal.

However – to be completely accurate –  the road only covers the gently rising rampart slope of the original Roman defences.

Turns out the wall itself  is slightly further west and is  buried under the pavement that leads up on the Theatre Royal side!

Alistair Barber is the Senior Project Officer for Cotswold Archaeology who have been busy excavating in and around the Saw Close site that will see the building of a casino, hotel and several restaurants.

At the moment, some of the old Palace Theatre is being demolished. Though the tower facade – which is listed – will be incorporated into the new build.


Demolition of the old Palace Theatre – as of February 22nd, 2016.

Last year Cotswold Archaeology held an open day to show Bathonians the pipe factory they  had uncovered and recorded before being ‘put to bed’ under a protective coating so that the new construction can go ahead around it.

saw close

The site had only been open for half an hour and already the crowds are gathering.

Alistair tells me how they came face to face with the city wall – and its Roman origins – while keeping a watching brief on a trench contractors had put in to link drainage on the site with the main sewer nearby.

cleaning up of rampart deposits in drainage trench in road

Cotswold archaeologists at work in the drainage link trench.

He told me: ‘At the limit of Sanctus’s excavations (for their drainage connection to the existing sewer in the road) we identified a series of rampart deposits which would have run back from the Roman town wall (there was no trace of the masonry wall itself within our trench, and the wall is thought to lie slightly further to the west, closer to the line of the pavement outside of the Theatre Royal).

successive clay stone and gravel rampart layers

The archaeologists have identified successive rampart layers of clay, stone and gravel.

As you’ll see from the attached close-up photo the rampart was constructed from a series of fairly clean clay, limestone and gravel layers – a few fragments of pottery and Roman roof tile were recovered from some of them.

surviving rampart deposits in yellow cut through by medieval pits

The surviving rampart deposits – in yellow – are cut through by medieval pits.

You’ll see from one of the photos looking down into the trench from above that the rampart layers had been cut through by later, medieval, pits – leaving only an ‘island’ of yellow rampart material showing in the bottom of the trench.’

Fascinating stuff and thanks Alistair.


Finally – work underway on improving towpath.

Finally – work underway on improving towpath.

Work started this week  on the gradual improvement of a length of the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath between Bathampton and Sydney Gardens.


The notices – pinned to a tree – at the top of the approach path from Grosvenor Bridge. This path is not directly mentioned in the scheme and l have no idea what remedial work will be done here – other than clearance at the top where it joins the towpath.

Notices have gone up along the towpath – pointing out that this is a job that will not be finished before July 15th.


More postings beside the A36.

Funding has been made available for the project via the Department for Transport’s City Cycle Ambition Fund and is being managed in partnership by the Canal and River Trust and Bath and North Somerset Council.

The project – says the public notice – ‘ will see a significant improvement in the towpath surface for the benefit of all users.’


Sunshine today but after the prolonged rain, this towpath surface can be waterlogged.

Today (Friday, February 26th, 2016) contractor Paul Ledbury has been brought in by B&NES to  clear and enlarge the inclined passageway up to the towpath from Grosvenor Bridge. And from the Canal and River Trust this comment about what’s happening to this passageway:

“As part of the Bath to Bathampton towpath works, we will also be surfacing the link path (approximately 300m in length), which runs from the towpath down to the railway bridge and then connects with the Grosvenor river bridge.

The groundwork for the link path is scheduled to be done during June and will re-open officially in mid-July at the same time as the towpath.’


Contractor, Paul Ledbury has started clearing the pathway onto the towpath from Grosvenor Bridge. His brief is to clear down to the railway bridge.

The canal will remain open during  the  work taking place alongside – which will see around 50% of the towpath closed with a towpath diversion in place via Candy’s Bridge/Meadow Lane.

IMG_7156 (1)

There’s also a map showing you what is happening and where the diversions will be.

Boating customers needing to get to and from their boats will be permitted access throughout the project.


The notice about the works which has gone up on the towpath.

The finished towpath will be a bound surface and will consist of a tarmac base with chippings on top which will be of a colour to closely match the existing surface.

More information via

Chopsticks and pizza for The Corridor

Chopsticks and pizza for The Corridor

Nice to see some new businesses moving into  The Corridor – Bath’s historic and late-Georgian covered shopping centre.


The new Hai Na Oriental Supermarket that has opened in Bath’s historic Corridor.

At the Union Passage end, we’ve got a flavour of the Far East with the Hai Na Oriental Supermarket – just opened on the first and second floor  – next to the shoe repair shop.

It’s not the first of its kind in the city but does reflect – not only the size of the resident Chinese community – but the growing number of foreign students at the city’s two universities.

While on the left – towards the High Street – a pizza serving restaurant called Dough is due to open its doors very soon!

Variety is the spice of life – and new businesses are always good for foot-fall.

Pause a while and admire an early example of a shopping mall built by H.E.Goodridge in 1825. It was built as a personal speculation and used to be known as ‘Goodridge’s Corridor’ – after the architect who built it!

The Corridor

The far end of The Corridor emerges in Union Passage which was known as Cox Lane in the Middle Ages and is now  home to a host of small businesses.

It remains as a ‘shadow’ of how it would have felt to be in amongst the narrow trading streets of Medieval Bath.

River flood works to start soon.

River flood works to start soon.


There’s going to be plenty of activity to watch  – construction and excavation-wise –  on the down river side of Churchill Bridge in Bath this year – and it’s all getting underway very soon.

Be prepared for some diversions and inconvenience while the roads and footpaths are re-aligned. There’s more information on that in the story below.

river avonm


In a report to the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (why, oh why couldn’t they have come up with a shorter name)  – meeting on Tuesday, March 1st – councillors will be getting updates on various schemes within the Council’s ‘Bath Enterprise’ areas.

High on the agenda is the work due to start shortly on remodelling the river bank next to Churchill Bridge.

Here the shape of the bank is being altered and new walls constructed to tackle flooding and improve the city’s connection with the River Avon.

A progress report on this states:

“Bath Quays Waterside is a strategic flood alleviation project, jointly promoted by both Bath and North East Somerset Council and the Environment Agency. The project seeks to address flood risk posed by the River Avon to the central area of the city.

bath quays

The proposed tree-lined terraces

The flood alleviation works will deliver improved flood conveyance, remove flood risk posed to key central development sites and deliver a new riverside park adjacent to the river.

river avon

The River Avon has flooded some of the cycleway on its bank.

The Bath Quays Waterside project team has secured the required consents to enable the commencement of the project and the works contractor has been appointed.

The contractor is currently in its enablement phase and is undertaking enablement works. Formal construction works will begin in spring and will be complete by the end of 2016.”

In the meantime B&NES has announced that improvements to the riverside path in this area have already got underway.

In a press release issued today – Thursday, February 25th – a spokesperson says:

‘The next stage of the Bath Quays Waterside project started this week with riverside path improvements alongside the River Avon.

The £6.22m Bath & North East Somerset Council and Environment Agency project will reduce flood risk for more than 100 existing properties, reconnect the city centre to the riverside with a new waterside park, and allow Bath Quays to develop as a new home for businesses.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This investment will help us realise an exciting vision to re-connect Bath to its riverside, create new office space and a new riverside park. We apologise for inconvenience caused during the highway and footway improvements but all of this work will help to open up the city centre to the riverside and ultimately lead to the development of new space for home-grown and growing businesses.”

river avon

Bath Quays will feature new developments on both sides of the river, linked by a brand new pedestrian and cyclist bridge. New offices will be at the heart of a bustling south-facing riverside park called Bath Quays Waterside. This imaginative landscape project combines flood mitigation measures with a beautiful and adaptable south facing riverside environment.

The redevelopment of Bath Quays North will provide up to 30,000 sq m of high-quality commercial space for new and developing enterprises providing inspiring and ambitious employment opportunities for future generations.

The Local Sustainable Transport Fund backed work to improve the riverside path started on Monday 22 February. It is being resurfaced and widened between Green Park and Nelson Villas, at Nelson Place West, with the addition of new fencing to improve public safety.

A new pedestrian and cycle link in Green Park is also being created, providing an alternative to the riverside path alongside the Broad Quays moorings during times of flooding when it becomes inaccessible. It is expected that the work will be completed in the Spring.

This improvement work and other riverside work to be undertaken later this year, will require the riverside path between Nelson Villas and Broad Quay to be closed on occasions; pedestrians and cyclists will only be diverted when necessary and signs will be in place.

With work currently underway to replace the Destructor Bridge at Midland Road, this means the towpath will be closed at times from Windsor Bridge to Broad Quay. It is expected the Destructor Bridge will be completed and open by this Summer.

Traffic Management/Road realignment

The Council’s contractor, Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd, is currently changing the one-way system around Avon Street car park into a two-way system, with a new road constructed through Riverside Coach Park.

Once completed, traffic will be diverted from Green Park Road, allowing the widening of the river bank opposite Broad Quays moorings, which will improve the River Avon’s ability to convey flood water, and establishing a new riverside public open space.

At the same time, essential highway maintenance work is underway on St James Parade., which has required the closure of Ambury and the junction of St James Parade/Corn Street, with a diversion in operation via Avon St and James St West. Access to Avon Street car park and businesses is still available via Corn Street throughout the closure. The roads are expected to re-open to through traffic by mid-March.’

newark works

The Newark Works – former home of Stothert and Pitt

Meanwhile, there will be news on continuing negotiations to do something with the Newark Works – the former site of engineering giant Stothert and Pitt.

A report to councillors will state:

‘The Council is engaged in ongoing dialogue with an existing bath business (BMT) with a view to acquiring the former Newark Works site (Bath Quays South.)

River Avon

The Newark Works

TCN have announced their intention to refurbish the Newark Works building fronting Lower Bristol Road to form creative workspace of around 30,000 sq ft.

(Look up that company at

TCN are an existing operator of creative workspace and successfully operate several other buildings throughout the UK, including a building adjacent to Bristol Temple Meads.

 A pre-application submission has been received from BMT and their development partner and a detailed planning application is anticipated during 2016.’

Meanwhile on Bath Riverside:

‘The Crest Nicholson Western Riverside scheme continues to progress well. The next phase of works will see the delivery of the Studio Egret West residential blocks adjacent to the river and the erection of the replacement to the Destructor Bridge.

destructor replacement bridge

The new bridge that will replace the old Destructor!

The bridge is currently expected to be landed in the week preceding the Easter bank holiday.’

Away from the river, there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes-action regarding the Cattlemarket site.

corn exchange‘Development interest in the Cattlemarket site remains and the Council has received approaches from parties interested in acquiring and developing the site.

The site is a sensitive and complex redevelopment proposition and the Council is keen to see the comprehensive redevelopment of the wider Cattlemarket/Hilton site.

Work is ongoing to consider how best to realise this ambition in an appropriate timeframe and in the context of other redevelopment proposals within the city.’

Could be quite a year!



That sinking feeling.

That sinking feeling.

Back from a week’s holiday and surprised to see Network Rail contractors are still busy doing repairs to the rail bridge over the way up to the Kennet and Avon canal from Grosvenor Bridge.


Can’t have been very pleasant working here in all the recent bad weather.

That’s not to say they are not making a good job of it but it is one indication of why – with so much to do prior to electrification – that things are a little behind.


Contractors still working on the rail bridge beside the canal.

The track up to the towpath is a quagmire and – from what l hear – is on the end of the list of ‘improvements’ being planned for this vital way into town for pedestrians, dog walkers and cyclists.


The state of the path up to the canal is unbelievable!

I was nearly knocked off my bike on the London Road yesterday and want to see safer and more direct ways to get into Bath that don’t involve sitting in a car.


The new layout at the rear of the museum is gradually taking shape.

The weather is making things difficult for landscape contractors working on the garden at the back of the Holburne Museum but the new layout is taking shape.


The Sydney Gardens sink hole. Maybe it would make an additional ‘feature’ on the lawn?

PS. See the Sydney Gardens sink hole is still with us. Stopping to look in – it seems to be much deeper than the original hole that was filled in. Surely this has to have something to do with the natural springs running down the hill in this part of Bath?


Close up of the sink hole and it’s a deep one!