Welcome home number 68!

Welcome home number 68!

Good to see that at least one of the two genuine sedan chairs – that were on display at Bath’s historic Assembly Rooms – has returned to the building after a long absence.


Bath’s Assembly Rooms.

This late 18th century Bath ‘taxi’ is one of many licensed by the Corporation and bears the registration number 68.


Sedan chair – number 68 – returns!

As the notice alongside it declares, ‘chairs such as these would have brought people to the doors of the Assembly Rooms for concerts and assemblies’.

This new form of transport – introduced from the Continent in the 16th century – was well suited to Bath’s narrow and crowded streets.


The newly conserved sedan chair is positioned just outside the ballroom.

They were used to take people to the thermal baths for treatment and also to transport them to public entertainments like concerts and balls.

By the 1850’s most sedan chairs had been replaced by wheeled bath chairs for short trips in the city and fly carriages to take people to the suburbs.


When will this one be coming back too?

The chair – now back on display – is one of two that stood in the Concert Room. Last l heard that had been sent away for detailed conservation work.

Stephen Clews – the Manager of the Pump Rooms and Roman Baths – tells me:

‘We are holding back on putting the second sedan chair back on show as a precaution. The reason they were both removed in the first place is that they were infested by a bug.

Obviously anything less than putting them in a glass case (which we would rather avoid!) means there must be some risk of them re-infestation.

So we have simply put one back to begin with and will see how it gets on, so if there is a recurrence only one will be affected.

We have put bug traps next to it so should be able to discover any re-infestation at an early stage.’

Go Banana

Go Banana

Busy in Bath today with sales, people spending gift tokens and no-doubt exchanging unwanted gifts.

Sad to see a sign outside Banana Republic informing customers that the clothing store is to close early next month.


The closure notice.

Seems the company – the ‘posh’ end of the American business that includes Gap in its retail stable – is pulling out of European High Streets but keeping an on-line presence.


Cities like Bath are proving too expensive to set up shop in – what with rents and rates.

Is the High Street doomed to offering nothing but the contents of the big multiples?

Massive brands that can afford to keep an open sign above the door and move stuff from store to floor quickly and cheaply.

Do we all want to end up dressed the same way. A flock of shopaholic sheep?


Ironic location for a central Bath store subject to high rent and rates?

I am told retail giant H & M is taking over the soon-to-be-vacated premises – ironically situated on the corner of Cheap Street.

Has Star Wars become a reality?

Has Star Wars become a reality?

2016 – as l have said elsewhere – is ending as a year which saw Death become a celebrity in its own right.

Amongst those he visited was Carrie Fisher – a wild child who experienced a roller coaster ride through her meagre 60 years – but also to her legion of Star Wars fans, a Hollywood star who has died a double death.

You see fiction is becoming seen as fact.

It is also – for many – Princess Leia who has fallen victim to the dark side of the Force as some begin to associate the real events of a changing Western world with the fictional characters and events of Star Wars – an ‘epic American space opera franchise …. centered on a film series created by George Lucas ….. which became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon ‘ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars

Donald Trump and Vladamir Putin jostle for the role of Darth Vadar and for all we know could be adding a ‘Death Star’ to their growing arsenal of nuclear weapons.

In the middle is a Europe being prodded and pushed towards disintegration – but is it in 2017 when the ’empire’ begins to strike back?

In the real world, are there enough ‘rebels’ – people who still want to live in the security of a united and progressive Europe – to begin fighting for their corner.

It is a union that is not holier than thou and one that should also look in on itself  toward reform and blanket agreements on everything from defence and security to trade and environmental concerns.

But making it work is better than watching it fail.


Unless there is hope, 2017 is going to be worse than 2016. With world wide knowledge – and worship – of ‘celebrity’ through social media there will always be a greater awareness of those shaking off their personal life force – at whatever age genes or outside events decree.

However,  that same world-wide cyber murmuring – amongst the millions who log in to voice an opinion – must be used to turn away from the dark side and seek consensus in steering this tottering world – inundated by homo sapiens – towards a more positive and integrated future.

Space ship Earth needs a pilot and it also needs Hope to fuel it on its journey through time.

All a bit outside my Bath remit l know but l felt it had to be said.

More locally we have a delayed announcement on the location of the east of Bath park and ride site to look forward to. It’s a lemming-like rush to the cliff – whichever site they stick the pin in.

It’s almost certain we’ll have an increase in council tax  to help pay for local services the government won’t now subsidise and more angry voices raised regarding traffic pollution, affordable homes, rubbish and student accommodation.

On the brighter side – and maybe this is where Bath comes into the greater picture – we go to the polls in May to elect a Metro Mayor.

Not universally popular, but surely someone who can bring together and push three local authorities into a higher gear to start speaking as one on issues like employment, housing and transport – matters that affect us all.

In a smaller way it’s showing that integration – rather than disintegration – is the way forward. Strength in unity eh?

According to Wikipedia, the motto was originally used by the Dutch republic. It is derived from the Latin phrase “concordia res parvae crescunt” – small things flourish by concord.

I take with me – into a new and uncertain year – a small spark of hope that l yearn to see turned into a fire.

Bath to showcase ‘Lace in Fashion’

Bath to showcase ‘Lace in Fashion’

The Fashion Museum Bath’s special exhibition for 2017 will be ‘Lace in Fashion’ (4 February 2017-1 January 2018). Drawing on the riches of the museum’s collection, as well as generous loans from contemporary fashion designers, the exhibition will showcase over 50 exquisite pieces, showing how lace has been used in fashion from the time of Shakespeare to the present day. 


Three lace dresses, poplin applied to organdie by Balenciaga, Leavers machine-made lace by Molyneux, Leavers machine-made lace over gold jersey by Balmain, 1900s Cream organdie full length evening dress with applique design imitating Carrickmacross lace, 1950s. Lime green fine Leavers machine-made silk lace embellished full-length evening dress with hand-tamboured sequins and bugle beads, 1930s. Cream Leavers machine-made lace evening dress over gold jersey, 1953. © Fashion Museum

The Exhibition Curator, Elly Summers, has been working painstakingly to catalogue the museum’s extensive collection of lace dating from the 1500s to the present day, supported by a grant from the Arts Council England and assisted by expert volunteers from the Lace Guild. This research has uncovered many gems from the collection – for example a lace dress made in 1805, which may be the only surviving dress worn by Queen Charlotte. 

Global British luxury brand Burberry is loaning two looks from its Spring/Summer 2016 collections: a menswear look including a lace caban and shirt, and a womenswear look featuring a silk and lace dress. Other highlights will include a navy blue lace dress worn by Lea Seydoux in the James Bond film Spectre, which has been loaned to the museum by Australian design duo Lover, and a 1991 Karl Lagerfeld dress worn by 1990s supermodel Linda Evangelista in British Vogue, which celebrates its centenary in 2016.

 Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “‘Lace in Fashion’ will showcase some of the rarest and most beautiful pieces from the Fashion Museum collection, and explore the fascinating history of lace. We are delighted that fashion designers – from the UK to Australia – are supporting the Fashion Museum by generously lending pieces for the exhibition.”

fashion museum

The oldest object in the exhibition will be a smock dating from 1580-1600 with Flemish bobbin lace on the sleeves and collar, which is one of the earliest pieces in the Fashion Museum’s collection. Another of the museum’s rarest treasures will also appear in the show: a silver tissue dress made from fine silk woven with silver thread and trimmed with parchment lace, which dates from around 1660. This is a rare survival of parchment lace, a delicate fabric made using tiny strips of parchment or paper, wrapped in silk and incorporated into the design of the bobbin-made lace.

From the 1500s to 1700s, lace was a high-value fabric and a sign of prestige, mostly worn by royals and the aristocracy. There were two types of lace available – bobbin lace and needle lace, both of which were incredibly time consuming to produce, and required great levels of skill. 

Mechanisation followed and by the end of the 1800s many people could afford to wear lace. New lace-making techniques appeared, including machine lace, chemical lace, tape lace and tatting. Examples of fashionable dress made using all of these techniques will be included in the show. Today, top designers such as Valentino and Alexander McQueen frequently use lace in their designs, and lace is popular in high street fashions.

fashion museum

The exhibition will look at the following themes:

Luxury – exploring the development of lace making from the 1500s to 1700s, when lace was a high-value, luxury material

Technique – covering the mechanisation of lace making over the course of the 1800s

Everyday – featuring fashionable clothing from 1909 to the 1970s, when lace had become affordable for many people

Couturiers – showcasing exclusive lace dresses made by couturiers for wealthy clients in the 1900s, including leading Parisian and British couturiers of the day

Royal – including a 1805 dress that may have belonged to Queen Charlotte, and two dresses by leading British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, worn in the 1950s by Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother

Celebrity – featuring a 1991 Karl Lagerfeld dress worn by one of the original supermodels of the 1990s, Linda Evangelista, in British Vogue, and a 2015 Venus dress worn by Lea Seydoux in the James Bond film Spectre.

Modern – revealing how today’s catwalk is challenging traditional concepts of lace in fashion, with fashion looks by Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Erdem and Christopher Kane

‘Lace in Fashion’ complements the Fashion Museum’s major exhibition, ‘A History of Fashion in 100 Objects’, which runs until 1 January 2019. Admission to both exhibitions is included in the Fashion Museum ticket.


For information:

The Fashion Museum is one of the world’s great museum collections of historical and contemporary fashionable dress, situated in the beautiful World Heritage City of Bath. Designated as a Collection of Outstanding National Significance by Arts Council England, the Fashion Museum collection includes fashionable dress for women, men and children, from the 1600s to the present day.


Fancy being the new Metro Mayor?

Fancy being the new Metro Mayor?

Fancy your chances at being elected a ‘Metro Mayor’ for the West of England?

This new role has been created as part of the 1 billion pound devolution deal Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire authorities have done with the Government.


A ‘still’ from the new website.

They have agreed to form a Combined Authority – led by the new West of England Mayor – and the Cabinet will be the Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Cllr Tim Warren, Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, and the Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Matthew Riddle.

The new mayor will be elected on May 4th and there is now a website for finding out more – if you want to stand – or simply understand where the new ‘deal’ will leave us all.

If you are considering being a candidate, please send an email to electoral.candidates@bristol.gov.uk

Everyone that has registered interest in being a candidate will be sent information in early January 2017 and will be invited to discuss the nomination and election process in early February.

The new website can be found on http://www.westofenglanddevolution.co.uk/ 


Record Office at 50!

Record Office at 50!

A celebration to mark 50 years of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Record Office is planned for 2017.

In 1967 the Record Office first opened its doors to welcome visitors to the collections of hundreds of historic documents stored in The Guildhall.

Bath Record Office

Bath Record Office at the Guildhall.

In the early days the archive contained just the Council’s own records, but since 1967 archivists have collected many thousands of documents from local businesses, families, private and public organisations, all of which tell the story of life in Bath over the centuries.

Local residents and visitors from across the world have been fascinated to find out more about life in Bath in earlier times. The Record Office is open to all – access to the documents is free of charge and staff are always on hand to offer advice.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Bath Record Office is a superb resource for anyone wanting to find out about the history of Bath, whether browsing through documents in the archive, attending a family history course, or interacting with archivists at one of the roadshows taking place across Bath and North East Somerset this year

“If you haven’t visited, why not call in during 2017? There will be a series of special anniversary events, where you can meet the archivists, explore the strong rooms, and see fascinating documents relating to the history of the area and its people.”


Assistant Archivist, Lucy Powell, at  Bath Record Office.  Photographer Freia Turland

Events during January-March 2017:

The Record Office reaches 50

Wednesday 18 January, 1.10-1.45pm
The Guildhall
Talk by Colin Johnston, Principal Archivist, Bath Record Office

Discovering Bath’s archives: a researcher’s view

Wednesday 25 January, 1.10pm–1.45pm
The Guildhall
Talk by Dr Amy Frost of Bath Preservation Trust

A Record Office fit for the future

Wednesday 1 February, 1.10pm–1.45pm
The Guildhall
Talk by Gary Tuson, County Archivist of Norfolk

Advanced Family History Study Day – Understanding Archives

Friday 3 March, 10.00am-3.30pm

The Guildhall


Beginners’ Family History Day

Wednesday 15 March, 10.00am-3.30pm

The Guildhall


History At Your Feet – Bath Record Office tours

Wednesday 22 March, 10.30am and 11.30am
The Guildhall
Free but booking essential
Explore 900 years of historic archives in the Bath Record Office strong rooms in The Guildhall basement. Your tour will involve negotiating uneven floors, steps and low headroom. Call 01225 477421 or email archives@bathnes.gov.uk to book.



Bath’s Central Library on the move!

Bath’s Central Library on the move!

Bath Central Library is on the move – as part of plans by Bath & North East Somerset Council save money and  modernise library services across the district.

bath library

Bath Central Library

Next year, it’s going to relocate to the top two floors of Lewis House in Manvers Street. 


Going to be a tough job fitting in Bath Central Library – plus its study area – onto the top two floors of the One Stop Shop!

 Following the success of the joint library and One Stop Shop in Keynsham, B&NES say they want to see Bath’s Central Library and Midsomer Norton Library modernised to reflect the changing way people use the library service.

The plans for Bath Central Library:

Relocating the library to the first two floors of Lewis House in Manvers Street.

More computers and improved Wi-Fi access will be available to make the most of new technology and support digital access.

More child and family-friendly facilities will be created.

Designs for the new facility will be available in January with work expected to start following public feedback in the spring, with the work expected to last around nine months.

To ensure a continuous library service, a temporary library will be created in The Podium while work is carried out on the new location.

The public will be encouraged to give feedback on the plans early in the new year to help shape the final layout.

bath central library

Bath Central Library

Data collected by Bath Central Library over an average week shows how people use the library:

52% wanted to book a computer or print something out

19% wanted information

9% wanted to renew or borrow books

6% wanted a particular item

5% wanted help with their account

4% wanted help with computers or photocopiers

2% wanted newspapers

2% wanted to hand items in

1% wanted to join the library

The plans put forward by the Council will create a modern service offering access to more computers, improved Wi-Fi facilities and more family space, with continued access to the 3 million books available through the Libraries West system.

Work on the new design is underway and a first draft of the plans will be ready in the New Year when comments from members of the public will be welcome.

bath central library

Bath Central Library

The plans for Midsomer Norton Library:

Relocating the library to the One Stop Shop at The Hollies.

There will be more computers and improved Wi-Fi access to make the most of new technology to support digital access.

More child and family-friendly facilities will be created.

Designs for the new facility will be shared with the community in January for comment and feedback.

All three million books will continue be available for members of the public to access through Libraries West and local history books will be added to the archive collection and be available to everyone in a modernised facility in The Guildhall.

Cllr Martin Veal

Cllr Martin Veal

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The plans we are putting forward will ensure that B&NES residents have access to a modern library service which is both sustainable for the future and fits with the way in which people are now using library services.

“For example, we know that people are increasingly using our libraries to access computers and information as well as attending family events, rather than simply browsing for books.

“Our plans will therefore offer more computers, improved Wi-Fi and new technology to support digital access as well as offering more child and family-friendly facilities, whilst continuing to provide access to the three million books available through Libraries West.

“At the same time, the Council is facing extremely challenging times as it looks to balance its budget. By co-locating our libraries with other community services these changes will not only provide a modern library service to residents but will also help the Council towards achieving the large savings it has to make in the coming years.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council needs to save £49 million over four years. Modernising the library service will contribute £800,000 a year towards these savings by co-locating the libraries with other public services and freeing-up current premises such as the Podium which can then generate an income for the Council through leasing opportunities.

Designs for the new facilities will be available in the New Year when members of the public will be encouraged to comment and provide feedback.

No doubt  there will be many who think the move from the Podium will leave Waitrose room to add a mini John Lewis of sorts? There is also no mention of possible job losses from the library service?

One reliable source tells me the vacated space will have to be converted into offices to house the council staff dislodged from Lewis House by the library move.