What lies behind Bath’s ‘bamboo curtain’? And a possible new disguise for an old eyesore.


It’s not only Sydney Gardens experiencing a bit of  spring ‘green’ cleaning. Bath’s parks and green spaces department have been busy in Parade Gardens too!

The smart looking bandstand with a new roof!

The wonderful and well-used bandstand has a new roof and now – l have noticed – there is a bit of a cutback underway.

If you want a quick answer to a question then send a tweet on Twitter l always say and, having noticed a large bed  – normally well covered in foliage – had been given a bit of a ‘haircut’ and clear out, l was concerned for the fate of the pets’ cemetery – normally hidden in the middle.

Clearance starting on the area containing the pets cemetery. Dogs buried here belonging to former residents of South and North Parade whose private garden this once was.

Will the clearance affect the pets cemetery, l asked?

Back came the answer on Twitter: ‘ Only positively! It will be a small hidden glade garden in its own right. Sensitively planted.’

My eye also caught site of another feature – normally hidden away behind a screen of bamboo. This portion of a ruined wall is believed to be all that remains of the Monks Mill – a water mill which stood on the river bank alongside a 17th-century orchard.

Looking across to the ruin of Monks Mill – clearly on view now the bamboo curtain has gone.

Fantastic that it can be seen and commented upon but exposure could lead to erosion and decay. Back on Twitter l went to have another word – and back came the following answer.

Looking down on the ruined portion of what once was Monks Mill.

‘Agreed. It’ll have stonework repaired, climbing roses to protect it and information so its history can be appreciated.’

I am impressed. Now just find a way of getting rid of that electric substation abomination and Parade Gardens will look even better!

parade gardens
The horrible electricity sub-station block in Parade Gardens.

Maybe that’s where the uprooted bamboo could be replanted.

The gardens were closed today. Not sure when they open for the season? Maybe someone from ‘parks and greens’ will read this.

By the way, the people who work for that department manage nine formal parks covering 49 hectares of space – and on a tight budget too!

Now l am actually away from Bath this week but now enclose an email that has been sent to me by from Mark Cassidy who is the Arboricultural Officer at B&NES. Here it is in full:

‘Thank you for your article on the Parade Gardens and your comments on our current improvement works. Perhaps this email will better detail our plans rather than tweeting (you asked for a response re the sub station which you will have!).

The bandstand has been re-roofed but I have also had it completely re-painted inside and out and this has been courtesy of the Probation Service regarding labour (as you say, budgets are tight!). In addition they have power washed the main flight of steps at the entrance and painted the main gates, lamp columns, hand rails and will paint the riverside railings.

They have also helped dig out the bamboo which can be very aggressive (lifts tarmac) and which will have been growing into the Mill’s foundation (potentially damaging it). The stonework will be repaired, I will reinstate the area around it (grass) and plant old fashioned climbing, scented roses against it to lightly veil it with something more artistic/romantic (roses over ruin), – residents and visitors can then better appreciate our history.
The central area (including and surrounding the pet cemetery) was very untidy and weedy and I am trying to improve this highly visual area, I plan to remove some of the superfluous shrubs to allow higher light levels in the cemetery area (this will allow things to grow between the grave stones) and we have started this as you know.

The replanting will take the form of wildflowers/meadow surrounded by ferns to frame it (a woodland glade feel). This will be a very soft planting to take what might be a morbid edge off the gravestones.
I am on the case regarding the unsightly sub-station, I have spoken to Western Power however moving it is simply unaffordable, we are considering options such as wrapping it (as they do vehicles) or painting it to disguise – i.e as a punch and judy stall).
Orange Grove has just been planted in a classical ‘English’ style, Parade Gardens summer planting is designed but can’t disclose this of course! we are trying hard to move our most central park forward (I remember it in the 70’s so know how good it was)
best wishes

Thanks Mark. Just wanted to get your response out there while l am away.




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