Planning for Peace – a Bath that never was.

Here’s a picture of a public building Bath is still waiting to see built. It’s a new concert hall and was part of a whole raft of redevelopment being planned for the city during the Great War. Schemes that never came to fruition.

The Bath Concert Hall that never was.

Bath Preservation Trust is currently giving people a chance to examine those architectural ‘dreams’ in a special exhibition that is running at the Museum of Bath Architecture.
The idea of an exhibition exploring the plans for Bath made during the First World War began three years ago and  – with the help of grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and B&NES Council – that exhibition has now opened to the public.

Planning for Peace: Redesigning Bath during the First World War explores the extraordinary vision of architect Robert Atkinson who was commissioned to draw up proposals for the improvement of the city centre in December 1915 by the Bath City Council.

Plan for Peace poster

Presented to the Council in January 1916 Atkinson’s large scale watercolour drawings are wonderful examples of skilled architectural draughtsmanship.

Based around the redevelopment of the Baths as well as the provision of a new concert hall in the city, Atkinson’s designs are infused with the influence of John Wood and Thomas Baldwin, while also being very defiantly examples of the monumental classism of the early 20th century.

Although a few of the drawings were exhibited at the Victoria Art Gallery in 2008, the complete set of drawings has not been exhibited altogether since they were first presented in 1916. It seems a fitting way of marking the First World War centenary by showing these wartime proposals for Bath a hundred years after they were first presented to the public.

Planning for Peace: Redesigning Bath during the First World War is at the Museum of Bath Architecture until 27 November. A series of events to coincide with the exhibition will be running throughout 2016 so please keep an eye on the Museum events pages on the website for more information.

There will be a special Exhibition Lecture  on 17 May  at 6.00pm. Entry will be £5 on the door
Dr Amy Frost will be delivering a lecture on  Planning for Peace: Robert Atkinson’s designs for Bath

1 Comment

  1. Another scheme that never came to pass was ‘Queens College’, an auxiliary to Oxford and Cambridge Universities.This was planned in 1839. Apparently there were two competing designs. You can find one on the ‘Bath in Time’ website:
    What would the contemporary higher education scenario be like in Bath if it had been built? Bath Uni is regularly in the top ten and Bath Spa is rising fast. Might we have seen off the Oxbridge duopoly?….The Bath Philosophical Society had William Herschel & Joseph Priestley as members, Adelard has been credited as the first English scientist, and then we must not forget William Smith, ‘The Father of Geology’…

    Bob Draper

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