Bath’s police station on wheels!

Bath’s police station on wheels!

The semi-circular space at the Stall Street end of Bath Street contains a significant symbol of great importance to Bath.

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The ‘cobbled’ Stall Street area outside the Roman Baths.

It’s the UNESCO sign marking a World Heritage site and the city shares with Venice the honour of being one of only two European cities to have a blanket designation over its core historical heart.

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The UNESCO World Heritage site symbol.

This status was awarded in 1986 in recognition of Bath’s thermal springs, Roman remains, Georgian architecture, social history, town planning and green (so far) setting.

While it’s good to be able to point out the significance of this mark amongst the ‘cobbles’ to the swarms of tourists who come to Bath – the symbol is not always on show.

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The old Stall Street Christmas Carousel

Every Christmas it would be half hidden from sight under a magical carousel that was always included as part of the annual Christmas Market.

In the last two years the galloping horses has been replaced by yet another beer shed – something that obviously makes more money.

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The Stall Street beer shed.

But just recently the UNESCO symbol  found something a little different crowding in on its space. A ‘mobile’ police station!

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The mobile police station recently spotted at the Stall Street end of Bath Street.

Now that is a new one on me and a welcome sight in a city of some size that no longer can boast a normal city-centre, fixed-to-its-foundations-type constabulary building – as that has been sold off to Bath University.

I have no idea why this station-on-wheels was loitering with intent in this hi-profile site but l am sure a lot of people would welcome seeing more of it around town.

Is this a re-modelling of the old police box? Someone should tell Dr Who he is way behind the times!

 

Canal vandalised through Sydney Gardens

Canal vandalised through Sydney Gardens

 

It has to be one the most severe cases of graffiti vandalism suffered by this World Heritage city for a long time.

A whole section of wall and tunnel – bordering and covering the historic Kennet and Avon Canal on its way through Sydney Gardens – has been attacked with spray paint.

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The graffiti inside the niche on one side of the tunnel leading out of Sydney Gardens.

Slogans and splodges everywhere – including filling a niche on the Father Thames fronted tunnel taking the canal out of the former pleasure gardens and on towards Bathampton.

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A closer look at the vandalised portal niche.

There are markings on walls and on the archway in the tunnel itself. The trail of vandalism seems to have started – or ended – on a litter bin just off the towpath and inside Sydney Gardens.

I have no idea if the Council’s graffiti unit would be called in to deal with this. B&NES would probably argue the canal comes under the responsibility of the Kennet and Avon Trust.

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More graffiti.

I witnessed the damage at 9 am on Monday morning – January 23rd – and have no idea when the damage was done.

Maybe dog walkers or runners or cyclists can let the police know whether it had been done overnight?

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More graffiti on the canal wall.

The Kennet and Avon Canal was designed by John Rennie and opened for navigation from the Avon at Bath to the Thames at Reading in 1810.

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Even the railing – just off Sydney Gardens – wasn’t spared.

It is now one of the city’s greatest public assets – passing through two short tunnels – with ornate portals – as it cuts through Sydney Gardens.

We have got to act as the eyes and ears of the city. We cannot allow people to destroy heritage and stain history in this way.

Every little helps

Every little helps

While Bath Abbey has every reason to be thankful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and philanthropists like Andrew Brownsword  in helping get their Footprint Project off the ground – there’s the day to day expenses involved in running such an historic building to take into account too.

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Just recently l noticed the  ‘Welcome’ board outside this late 15th century gothic structure was displaying a sign suggesting slightly more in the way of voluntary donation.

Basically – it’s gone up from two pounds and fifty pence to four.

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The ‘suggested donation’ board.

Thought l would just make inquiries and got the following official reply:

‘There is no charge to enter the Abbey, but we do invite visitors to make a donation at our entrance.

Every donation we receive helps enormously. As we do not receive government funding, we rely on the generosity of our visitors and our congregation to fund the work, outreach and maintenance of the Abbey.

We’ve been able to keep our suggested donation at £2.50 (or £1 per child/student) for nearly 17 years.

However, a visitor report last year which included consultation with visitors, market research coupled with inflation showed that a slight increase would be appropriate. At the start of the year, we changed our suggested donation to £4 per person (or £2.00 per child / student).

We are grateful for every donation, whatever the amount. The suggested donation is just that.

The main reason for suggesting an amount is that our experience and research has shown that many visitors find having a suggested amount more helpful than leaving it up to them.

It is important that our visitors know that their donations help us maintain the life the Abbey so that we can continue to welcome our visitors and best serve the city of Bath.’

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It’s also good to know the busy Christmas season at Bath Abbey has shown just how popular this gothic wonder is with the general public.

An Abbey spokesperson told me:

‘We’ve definitely seen an increase in our general visitor figures from 2015 to 2016 in the last couple of month.’

And here’s a comparison of figures for November and December 2015 and 2016.  

                                                 2015                       2016

                November          22,170                   23,793

                December           23,272                   29,172

The Abbey provided me with the following points – which may be of interest – but stress these are approximate figures. 

•             The Abbey is full every day from Advent until Christmas Day. We can seat over 1,000 people in the Abbey and for our most popular services such as the Advent Procession, we have to ticket the service otherwise we could fill the church twice over, easily. 

•             Including our Advent service, we have around 40 different carol services and four huge Christmas concerts. All of these services and concerts are packed. A very rough estimate is approximately 24,000 people in total attend all these different services. 

•             There are 3 services on Christmas Eve and another 3 services on Christmas Day with several thousand attending in those 24 hours.

•             We also have Shoppers Carols four times a day on Saturdays during the Bath Christmas market and each service attracts around 700-1,000 people. 

•             The combination of services, rehearsals and the relatively small space of the Abbey makes November and December a very busy but amazing time for us especially as we try to make each service special. 

Everyone has a great time and there’s genuine community spirit with giving and receiving and a lot of Christmas goodwill.