Did you bathe with a friend?

Did you bathe with a friend?

Just received Wessex Water’s autumn/winter magazine through the door. There’s an article reminding people that it’s forty years since the company had to impose a hosepipe ban.


That was the great drought of 1976 – when parts of the region went 45 days without rain.


We were invited to share a bath to save water. The drought came to an end on 27 August. The driest period some parts of the country had seen in a thousand years was followed by the wettest September since 1918 and the second wettest since 1727.

I thought that was the day l was hit by a low flying aircraft – but can’t find the cutting from the Bristol Evening Post to prove it – but l loved the photo in the Wessex magazine of me, Mike Hastie ( who was at Weston filming me when l was hit) and Graham Alford on sound (also down at the parched old airfield) doing an interview about the drought. Somewhere near a bonded warehouse on the Cumberland flyover into Bristol?

Victoria Bridge gets a weeding!

Victoria Bridge gets a weeding!

Fantastic! Someone with a level of authority within B&NES must have read my piece about the weed-infested state of the newly restored Victoria Bridge at Bath Riverside.


Buddleia was starting to grow on the top of the bridge pylons.


Weeds lined the route to this unique span.

Passing through that way today – to check on progress regrading the new Destructor Bridge – l noticed Mr Dredge’s 180 year old unique creation – restored at a cost of nearly three and a half million pounds – had been stripped of its buddleia saplings – on top the pylons – and its ground-growing weeds had also been removed.


Weed and buddleia free!

That is good to see!

Views on parking policy sought.

Views on parking policy sought.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is asking local residents to complete a parking survey. 

The results will help the Council review existing parking policies and practice as part of developing a long-term strategy for the management of parking within the Bath and North East Somerset area.


The online survey is now open and will run until 5pm Monday 19th December 2016 at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/parkingstrategy2016.

Cllr Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “This survey covers all aspects of parking policy, including on-street and off-street parking, as well as residential parking, and will help us in developing an approach that balances demand and availability of parking both now and in the future.

“The Council is keen to hear the views of residents, as well as visitors to our area, as we look to establish a balance between the social, economic, cultural and environmental needs of the whole community. I would therefore like to encourage residents to take a few moments to complete the online survey.”

If you have any further questions about this survey please contact Parking Services at Parking@bathnes.gov.uk, or call 01225 477133/4.


For Sale board ban stays in Conservation Area.

For Sale board ban stays in Conservation Area.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has successfully applied to prevent estate agents from displaying their boards in the City of Bath Conservation Area for the next 10 years.

This direction has been in effect for 27 years which reflects the Council’s long standing commitment to protect and conserve the unique heritage of the city. The Council has written to all estate agents to explain the decision.

The Inspector who examined the application on behalf of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government agreed with the Council that allowing estate agent boards within the Conservation Area would have a harmful effect on the special architecture and character of buildings in the Conservation Area and on the character and appearance of the wider Conservation Area. 


The Inspector considered that even one estate agent’s board could harm the appearance of the Conservation Area due to boards often being brightly coloured for maximum impact which would contrast with the stonework in these sensitive historic settings.

Councillor Liz Richardson (Conservative, Chew Valley North) is the Cabinet Member for Homes and Planning.

She said: “An extension to the Direction preventing the display of estate agent boards will continue to allow the special architectural qualities of the City of Bath Conservation Area to be protected. The visual qualities of the Conservation Area are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike and the renewal of the Direction means that buildings will be kept free from inappropriate signage.”

The last time l saw Paris – he was painting a mural in Walcot St.

The last time l saw Paris – he was painting a mural in Walcot St.

Wet weather, Bath rugby and the BBC’s Children in Need all conspired to rob Walcot Street traders of sizeable crowds when they organised a recent ‘Winterfest’ week-end to promote their individual and artisan credentials.


Jenny Pollitt of Lane House Arts.

However, according to one of the organisers –  Jenny Pollitt from Lane House Arts – the event succeeded in pulling the local community together and gave a real boost to traders efforts to increase footfall in their direction.


When you are out on a limb – and it’s Christmas Market time – you have to push your originality as Bath’s ‘Artisan Quarter’ – the place you’ll find traditional, hand-made arts and crafts AND some special places for foodies  – and even lovers of wine and real ale!


While most of the trappings of Walcot’s ‘Winterfest’ have been tidied away, there are a few more permanent reminders.


A large mural – originally painted by ‘Stanley Donwood’ – the pen name of English artist and writer Dan Rickwood – has been oversprayed.

Stanley is well known for his  close association with the pop group Radiohead – having illustrated many of their albums and posters.


Now it’s the turn of Frome-based street artist Paris to give it a new look. He – in his turn – is Coldplay’s ‘artist in residence’ and travels around the world with the band.


Paris at work on his Walcot Street mural.

He was in Walcot Street today to finish off his mural. It’s just across the road from some more new street art. This now decorates  the side wall of Yammo Restaurant and is the work of well-known Bristol artists Inkie and Cheba.


Both artworks were organised by Grant Robson and Ollie Perryman – known as RSNK.

While l was waiting for Paris to arrive – off the train from Frome – l went down Walcot Street to meet up – at the London Road end – with Jenny Pollitt from Lane House Arts.

I wanted to know how she would react to comments from those who might consider the new street additions as more grafitti than art.

It’s going to be a busy New Year for Walcot traders who are in the middle of negotiations with B&NES planners about more permanent ways of marking the area’s individuality.

They are looking for street signage – at either end – which will ‘Welcome’ people to Walcot and also give it an ‘Artisan Quarter’ branding.

Now back to the Hilton Hotel end of the street to chat to Paris and discover what has inspired  him in producing his new  mural.

l’ll be back to see the finished work.

In the meantime what do Bath Newseum followers think about more street art for Bath.

Maybe you could nominate a building to get the Paris treatment?









Christmas market underway

Christmas market underway

More than 200,000 visitors are expected to visit the Bath Christmas Market between Thursday 24 November and Sunday 11 December, to enjoy the unique shopping experience with the stunning backdrop of Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, and to sample the best festive food and entertainment.


Bath & North East Somerset Council is working in partnership with Bath Tourism Plus to do what it can keep the city moving for both visitors and residents. The Council is implementing a range of measures to improve transport and access to the city during this busy period, including:

Extending the operating hours of the city’s Park & Ride to allow shoppers to take advantage of the late night shopping opportunities provided by the Christmas Market.

Eight extra Park & Ride buses will run on Saturdays and five extra buses on Sundays. Ticket sellers will also be working at the busiest sites to assist in the smooth operation of the services. All services will run until 9.30pm during the Christmas period.


Creating additional capacity at Park & Ride sites. In addition to the overflow spaces at Odd Down Park & Ride, the car park at Lansdown North Playing Fields (nearly opposite Lansdown Park & Ride) will be used as an overflow car park on the Saturdays of the Christmas market. This should provide an additional 140 spaces for visitors.

Permanent and temporary messaging signs will be in operation displaying real time car park information and directing visitors to the Park & Ride sites.

Careful monitoring of traffic flow will take place during the period.

A robust coach management programme is in place to assist coaches dropping off and picking up in the city.

An embargo on all but emergency roadworks in the city until Monday 9 January in order to reduce traffic delays during the Christmas and New Year period.

On the Saturdays of the Christmas Market Great Western Railway will be operating an extra 15 trains at peak times, creating additional capacity for people heading to Bath Spa Railway Station.


Councillor Anthony Clarke, Bath and North East Somerset Council Cabinet Member for Transport said: “The Bath Christmas Market attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year so it is vital that we have measures in place to keep the city centre moving as best as possible.

“The Council is taking a range of steps to improve traffic movement and access to the city the during this busy period, such as extending the opening hours of our Park & Rides and providing overflow spaces at Lansdown and Odd Down. In addition, we have put a stop to all but emergency roadworks and will be closely monitoring traffic flow to see whether any additional steps need to be taken to keep traffic moving in the city centre.


The Abbey Hotel’s ‘snow globe’ is here!

“Wherever possible, we are encouraging shoppers and visitors to use either public transport or our Park & Ride services to get into the city, with extra buses put on. Using the Park & Ride can allow visitors to enjoy the Christmas Market experience without having to drive into the busy city centre, and we thank residents and visitors in advance for working with during this exceptionally busy time.”

For further information on Park & Ride services this Christmas, please contact Council Connect on 01225 39 40 41, or click here http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/parking-and-travel/park-and-ride


The ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of Bath Spa Station.

The ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of Bath Spa Station.

Here’s a bit of rail jargon you will get to hear a great deal of in the Bath area – as April, 2017 approaches.

It’s TPOD3 – the third ‘temporary period of disruption’ Network Rail will be introducing during the Easter month – as part of their rather overdue, over budget (currently 2.8 billion) and now a bit deferred electrification of the Great Western railway from London to Bristol and beyond.

TPOD1 and 2 involved separate closures of the line through Box Tunnel and Keynsham Station.

box hill tunnel

There were no lights in the tunnel in Brunel’s day!

This time it’s Brunel’s Grade 2 listed Tudor-styled Bath Spa station of 1840 facing some very organised disruption.

bath spa

Despite the fact the government has now stepped in to apply the electrification brakes in these parts – Network Rail will still need to get in there and widen and – in one place – lengthen platforms. That’s so the new rolling stock can be rolled out!

They also have to move their rails nearer the centre of the track bed. Normally they would just trim back the overhead platform canopies to accommodate the power carrying pylons but a Grade 2 listing has meant adopting a different approach.


Another view of Bath Spa station as it might look after electrification has been completed.

Though the pylons won’t now be going through anytime just yet, the work still has to be done.

That’s so their new fleet of Intercity Express trains – pulling ten carriages – can be introduced in the summer of next year.

The new engines are electro-diesel – which is just as well – as there won’t be any overhead line to draw power from after these glistening new beasts riding Brunel’s historic railroad reach the proposed cut-off point – which is on the Chippenham side of Box Tunnel.


Then it will mean switching over to diesel power. Just how well the engine will ‘fire-up’ – running at 100 miles per hour – remains to be seen. The new unit is currently enduring trial runs elsewhere.

But back to Bath Spa station. Here are some dates for your travel diary.


Is this how Bath Spa station will look in the future?

The station will be affected from Saturday, April 8th through to the early hours of Monday, April 24th.

Though the idea is to try and keep one side open – to receive a reduced service of trains from both directions – while work is underway, there will be 8 days – including the Easter weekend – when no trains will be able to pass through.

I attended a joint Network Rail/GWR ‘presentation’ last night – Thursday, April 24th – at Bath’s Guildhall when the whole TPOD3 operation was discussed in great detail.


First a quick word from both sides…..and a reaction to me describing the whole multi-billion pound electrification programme as being ‘postponed’……

I think the next best thing for me to do is let you look through the slides we were shown. Forgive the colour. The images were taken – with my telephoto lens – from a projector screen.

But it’s worth looking through and maybe making notes if you at a customer of GWR travelling through Bath.


Take what you will from that, l am grateful to GWR for letting you have a sneak peep at this promotional footage. There’s no sound but it’s good fun.

Get work updates via http://www.networkrail.co.uk/great-western-route-modernisation/banes/