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.
This late 18th century Bath ‘taxi’ is one of many licensed by the Corporation and bears the registration number 68.
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.
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By the 1850’s most sedan chairs had been replaced by wheeled bath chairs for short trips in the city and fly carriages to take people to the suburbs.
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.’