Something to sing about!

Something to sing about!

Bath Abbey Girls’ Choir is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. This milestone is being marked with a celebratory concert on 23 September at Bath Abbey in recognition of all that the choir has achieved since its inception.

Current or former members of the Girls Choir are also being asked to share their photos and memories with the city’s parish church via social media using #AbbeyGirls20yrs.

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The Abbey Choirs of Girls and Men with Huw Williams, Bath Abbey’s Director of Music, singing during a Sunday morning service in the Abbey. © Deborah J Coleman

The Abbey Girls’ Choir was founded in 1997 by Dr Peter King, Bath Abbey’s Director of Music from 1986-2016 and was one of the first girl choirs in the country at the time with Salisbury Cathedral having paved the way only six years earlier.

While remarkable in itself, there would have been the sound of female voices on the Abbey site long before 1997, and it could be said that the girl choristers are simply continuing a centuries-old choral tradition, which plays a vital part in the musical life of the Abbey and the city of Bath. In AD 676 there was a community of women worshipping in Bath in a convent run by Abbess Bertana and the site would have been filled with the sound of female voices as the girls and women sang their services.

Therefore, it is only fitting that as well as celebrating 20 years of the Abbey Girls’ Choir, the concert will be drawing inspiration from the generations of women in the Christian faith. The Abbey Girls’ Choir will sing the hauntingly beautiful music of Hildegard of Bingen from the 11th Century and a special commission by well-known composer Judith Bingham ‘The Sleeping Soul’ with words by the 13th century female mystic St Mechthild of Magdeburg. There will be texts by women – notably from Mother Julian of Norwich and the Magnificat (the song of Mary). Other music includes Schubert Psalm 23, Brahms’ Ihr habt nun traurigkeit (written in memory of his mother), Grieg’s Ave Maris Stella, Bruckner’s Ave Maria and music by Mathias, Stanford, Britten and Mendelssohn.

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Some girl choristers pictured in the choir stalls. © Deborah J Coleman

Huw Williams, Bath Abbey’s Director of Music, said: “Since joining the Abbey earlier this year I have been impressed with the quality of the Abbey Girls Choir and am delighted to be part of the 25th anniversary celebrations. We are immensely proud to have been one of the first churches in the country to introduce a girls’ choir. While almost every English Cathedral now has a girls’ choir, at the time it was a real innovation and to this day remains a remarkable achievement by my predecessor, Dr Peter King. whose original vision of a girls’ choir at Bath Abbey crowned his distinguished career here

“Occasions like this also allow us to celebrate our choristers as well as to thank all those who have helped champion and supported our Girls Choir over the years, benefactors, friends and family all included. As a former choir parent myself, I recognise that there’s a lot required of parents and guardians, and that it’s greatly appreciated. It will also be an opportunity for a wonderful reunion as we are hoping many of our former girl choristers, family and friends will be joining us for this very special event. We also plan to honour Dr Peter King’s contribution in some way.”

Since the girls first sang in the Abbey in the autumn of 1997, the Bath Abbey Girls’ Choir has flourished year on year, delighting congregations and audiences at services, concerts and through television and radio broadcasts and recordings. They have toured extensively, sung for the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Royal Family, and earlier this year performed Handel’s Messiah to great acclaim with soprano solos performed by members of the choir. One of the most anticipated events in the city’s calendar is the Advent service at the Abbey. The girls also sing an evocative performance in candlelight and accompanied by harp of Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols annually.

The Abbey has no Choir school, they are from a variety of local schools, both primary and secondary. The Girls’ Choir alternates with the Boys’ Choir to join the Men singing services on Sundays and important days in the church calendar. Since 1997, over 150 have graduated through the ranks. A significant number have subsequently become choral scholars in the Oxbridge Chapel Choirs, some have sung with the country’s top choral groups including the Monteverdi Choir and several are professional musicians.

Tickets for the concert celebrating the Bath Abbey Girls’ Choir’s 25th anniversary on Saturday 23 September at 7.00pm in the Abbey are available from the Bath Box Office. Tickets are priced at £10, £12 and £15.

 

That’s the way to do it! The re-birth of Weston-super-Mare’s Town Museum.

That’s the way to do it! The re-birth of Weston-super-Mare’s Town Museum.

More than two and a half thousand people turned up last Saturday ( August 26th) to look around the newly-reopened town museum at Weston-super-Mare.

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The exterior of the Grade 2 listed building in Burlington Street.

I know this website concerns itself with Bath but – as someone who claims that west coast town as his birthplace – l seized the opportunity to pop down and be shown around the place by the man who chairs the committee responsible for its rebirth – Cllr John Crockford-Hawley.

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L to R. Cllr John Crockford-Hawley and my friend Peter Steel – on our tour of the newly re-vamped facility.

You’ll find the museum in the former Gas Company workshops in Burlington Street – a site it has occupied since 1974.

However, this is its third town location, as a museum has existed in Weston for 155 years – making it just ten years younger than the V & A and ten years older than Bristol City Museum.

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Plenty of colourful displays and ‘hands-on’ fun for youngsters.

To complete the business plan – there is a tripartite agreement between Weston Town Council which owns the building, North Somerset Council which owns the collection, and the South West Heritage Trust which curates the collection.

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Milk churns and platform porters.

The project has largely been covered by the Heritage Lottery Fund – which provided £346,000 more than the town council asked for – with further money coming from the Coastal Communities Fund, Garfield Trust and Arts Council England.

The building has been closed for two years to enable a new roof – with automatic opening windows – to be installed.

They’ve also added a lift to open up the second floor to those with disabilities and a cafe – selling local produce – is ‘in-house’ -allowing profits to flow back into the museum.

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No ‘tat’ in the museum shop!

Donations are obviously welcome and there’s a bright little shop area – selling everything from local history books to china mugs and reproduction carbolic soap – adding to the all-important extra income.

Bright new display areas, new balconies and a re-configured staircase has opened up areas for exhibition and performance.

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A view down into the body of the museum’s main hall from one of the new balconies. To the right is another exhibition room that can also be used for lectures and conferences.

Most of the museum’s vast collection is stored at Taunton but there will be a regular flow of items – no doubt – to refresh displays.

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Come face to face with some of Weston’s former inhabitants!

I have to say having ‘less’ has turned out to provide ‘more’ in the way of impact. You no longer have to shuffle past past endless displays of  somewhat cluttered and drably displayed objects.

There is a real – brightly-lit and information-rich flow of artefacts which explore Weston’s long history – from primitive man to its ascendancy as a Victorian seaside resort.

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Memories of paddle steamers!

As an ‘old boy’ myself – l have to say the ‘Wyatt smile’ widened with every new display that triggered memory and took me back – for instance – to the days of the Open Air Swimming Pool – with its gushing fountain and high diving board – or the bracing summer days of Channel cruising on the old Bristol and Cardiff Queens.

This little boy’s heart would beat fast as he ran down the once firm-planks of the jetty on Birnbeck Pier to board one of those wonderful smoke-belching Campbell steamers that promised Knickerbocker Glory ice-creams as soon as we docked – down Channel –  at Ilfracombe.

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The ‘sponsored’ wooden blocks in the floor. The whole of the town’s high street was once lined with wooden blocks too.

Community involvement is strong with sponsored woodblocks that you can purchase to help coat the museum floor and a special display area given over to groups and clubs in the town to promote their place – and history – in the town.

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Here’s where the community can make its mark.

There were more memories for me of the penny in the slot automatons l viewed on the old Grand Pier. They were always depicting gruesome executions or ghouls rising from the grave – but you got a childlike thrill knowing there was glass between you and the stuff of nightmares.

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The electric chair! An original automaton that used to give me nightmares after being viewed as a young boy on the ‘old’ Grand Pier.

Meet the ‘Lord of the Manor’ – a couple painted by no-less-than Bath-based Thomas Gainsborough himself – and lots of other canvasses depicting the town’s history in the first real Weston-dedicated gallery the museum has ever boasted.

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The new art gallery.

I could go on but l want you to go look for yourselves. Burlington Street is a bit out of the way but there is now good signage and even little museum symbols on the pavement to guide you into the back streets from The Boulevard.

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Museum logo markings on the pavement help lead you to the front door in Burlington Street.

Details of opening ties and directions can be found on the museum website via www.http://westonmuseum.org

This is the biggest project the Town Council has undertaken and there are plans to start developing phase 2 of the museum which will bring in the rear courtyard, back of house areas and Clara’s Cottage.

Makes a refreshing change to say that here is a little gem that Weston-super-Mare can be truly proud of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crack down on HMOs. What do you think?

Crack down on HMOs. What do you think?

People in Bath are being given the chance to have their say on new proposals which seek to better manage the growth of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in the city.

The proposals have been drawn up in direct response to resident’s concerns about the proliferation of HMOs in parts of Bath and the impact it can have on the mix of available housing in the area.

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The proposals would mean that, unless there are other planning related considerations, applications for new HMOs would normally be refused in areas where 10% or more of properties have already been converted into multiple occupancy homes. Existing HMO’s will not be affected.

The proposals also introduce an additional test. A proposed HMO would be normally refused if it would result in a non-HMO dwelling being located directly between two HMOs. This aims to prevent the potential for negative impacts upon an existing dwelling due to it being sandwiched by two HMOs and to ensure that there is balance of housing types at street level.

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is, in principle, a house or flat which is occupied by three or more unrelated people who share facilities such as a kitchen and bathroom. Bath has seen a significant increase in HMOs and private rented property over the last 10-15 years with HMOs forming an important part of the local housing market, providing affordable accommodation for students, professionals and migrant workers among others.

Cllr Bob Goodman (Conservative, Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Development, said: “These proposals are responding to the concerns raised by residents about the concentration and continued growth of HMOs in parts of Bath.  If adopted, these proposals would allow the Council to better manage the growth of HMOs and ensure we have a balanced mix of housing types across the city.

HMOs of course have an important role to play in our housing stock by providing affordable living accommodation for professionals as well as students, but we need to ensure there is a balance of housing types within communities across the city.  Our proposals are designed to meet the city’s needs while addressing the concerns that have been raised about concentrations of HMOs.

We now want to hear what local people think about the changes we are proposing, and so I would encourage residents and all interested parties to respond to the consultation.”

The consultation on the proposed changes runs for 6 weeks from 4th September – 13th October.

Background information will be available at the One Stop Shop at Lewis House in Manvers Street, the city’s libraries and the mobile library andwww.bathnes.gov.uk/hmo.

You can send your comments to planning_policy@bathnes.gov.uk or online http://www.bathnes.gov.uk.

Following the consultation a final decision on whether to implement the proposals will be made in November.

Have your say about traffic pollution

Have your say about traffic pollution

B&NES wants to know what ratepayers and businesses think about air quality – bearing in mind that the main source of pollution is traffic.

The Council is reviewing air quality across Bath in preparation for the development of an updated Air Quality Action Plan.

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London Road is one heavily polluted area.

They are planning drop in sessions during October and an on-line consultation too.

To protect people’s health and the environment, local authorities have a duty to review and assess air quality to ensure it meets national air quality objectives.  Where specific air quality targets are exceeded the Council must develop a plan to tackle the problem.

In common with many other areas of the country, the main source of pollution in Bath & North East Somerset is traffic and national air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide have been exceeded in some areas.

The Council currently has 3 Air Quality Management Areas in Bath, Keynsham and Saltford.  Recommendations have been put forward and specific initiatives have been implemented to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide in these areas.

The Council’s current Air Quality Action Plan for Bath was drawn up over 5 years ago and, after collaboration with a number of stakeholder groups, an updated plan is now ready for formal consultation.

Cllr Bob Goodman, (Conservative, Combe Down) Cabinet Member for Development said: “This consultation comes at an important time for the issue of air quality, following the inclusion of Bath in the recently published National Air Quality Action Plan. It is vital local residents and businesses get involved and provide us with their comments and suggestions so we can shape an action plan which will help to protect public health in the future.”

Bath was included in the National Air Quality Plan as it is projected nitrogen dioxide targets will be exceeded in the city beyond 2021. This means that the Council must carry out a feasibility study which will explore a wide range of measures to improve air quality.

The Council will be able to draw from an £255 million Implementation Fund to carry out the initial feasibility study and officers are already in talks with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) about this.

As it is important that the review of the Bath Air Quality Action Plan properly reflects the results of the feasibility study, the final version of the plan will be delayed until at least Spring 2018.

The consultation will run for 3 months – from Monday 4 September 2017 to midnight on 26 November 2017 and documents can be found on the Council’s websitewww.bathnes.gov.uk/services/environment/pollution/air-quality where comments and suggestions can also be made.

There will be 3 drop-in sessions for members of the public to speak with the Council team and learn more about the proposed Bath Air Quality Action Plan:

Tuesday 10th October 2017 between 2-5pm at the New Oriel Hall (Main Hall) Larkhall, Bath

Friday 13th October 2017 at the Bath City Conference  at the Guildhall, Bath

Wednesday 18 October 2017 between 1-4pm at Twerton Village Hall, Bath

 

Bringing the past to life

Bringing the past to life

Museums Week in Bath and North East Somerset this October half-term 

More than 100 activities will take place across 23 venues when museums in Bath and North East Somerset  host an array of special events and activities this October half-term. It is part of Museums Week which is held each year from  21-29 October.

 

Organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council, Museums Week celebrates the unique collections and activities in our local museums. All activities are free for local residents with a Discovery Card.

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Just one of the many displays at the Roman Baths

Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “There will be something for everyone, from children’s craft sessions to guided tours, film showings to food tastings. It’s great news that local residents can enjoy all of these events for free with a Discovery Card.”

There will be more than 100 activities taking place across 23 venues during the nine-day celebration.

  • Discover 800 years of history at the Mayor’s Parlour and see Bath’s Royal Charters, gold, silver and sword
  • Look at fancy dress from the 1920s at the Fashion Museum Bath, and make a colourful headdress
  • Make a Roman actor’s mask at the Roman Baths
  • Create pictures using oil pastels and find out about complementary colours and how they work at the Victoria Art Gallery
  • Join a family-friendly tour of the floor at Bath Abbey and learn about the 1,500+ memorials and the lives of the people they commemorate
  • Experience what life was like for Victorian children at the Radstock Museum
  • Watch the Forged Line Dance Company bring the story of William and Caroline Herschel to life at the Herschel Museum of Astronomy
  • Take a tour of Beckford’s Tower and Lansdown Cemetery, which was once Beckford’s garden
  • Enjoy daily bun tastings at Sally Lunn’s
  • Follow the clues on the Children’s Trail and collect stickers at each museum
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    Some  of the ancient ledger stones on the Abbey floor. 

For full event listings please visit www.bathmuseumsweek.co.uk.

For information about Discovery Cards visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/discoverycard

 

First Bath ‘Walking Festival’ in September.

First Bath ‘Walking Festival’ in September.

Bath is about to hold its first ‘Walking Festival’ with a choice of 24 walks. It’s being held this September – by Bathscape Landscape Partnership –  to celebrate the landscape, heritage and views in easy reach of the city.

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There is a range of walks, from a short easy stroll around Bath City Farm to the more challenging 20 mile Julian House Circuit of Bath Walk, and lots in between.  You can explore Somer Valley, discover the wildlife in Smallcombe Cemetery and Carr’s Wood, or take a longer walk to Little Solsbury Hill.

Lucy Bartlett, Community & Access Officer at Bathscape said: “Whether you want to walk longer distances enjoying stunning views across the city, explore the nature in your local area or just meet people and get some fresh air, there’s a walk for you.

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Little Solsbury Hill

All the walks are free and are led by fantastic walk leaders supported by friendly volunteers.  The only exception is The Circuit of Bath Walk on Sunday 24thSeptember that is the Julian House charity annual sponsored walk. This year is the 30th year that the charity has been supporting homeless and excluded men and women in Bath, so what better time to enjoy Bath’s beautiful surrounding countryside and make a difference to people’s lives.

The Bathscape Walking Festival is part of the Bathscape Landscape Partnership scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  It is intended that the Festival will become an annual event and bring recognition for the health-giving powers of the landscape.

The Walking Festival is also grateful to local supporters Thermae Bath Spa and Wessex Water as well as all National Lottery players who help fund HLF projects.

Peter Rollins, Marketing and Communications Director at Thermae Bath Spa, said: “As the country’s only day spa with access to Bath’s naturally warm mineral rich waters, wellness is truly at the heart of Thermae Bath Spa. Local residents and visitors to Bath all come to experience the famous therapeutic waters, just as the Celts and Romans did over 2000 years ago. Owing to this association with wellness, Bathscape Walking Festival feels like a natural fit for us as a thermal spa, so we were delighted to get involved. Bathscape have planned some fascinating walks incorporating and celebrating the local heritage, which will prove beneficial for both body and mind for local residents and visitors from further afield.”

Find out more at www.bathscapewalkingfestival.co.uk or calling 01225 477265.

For Your Information:

More information about Bathscape: www.bathscape.co.uk  This is a Heritage Lottery Funded landscape partnership.  Part of the project aims are to encourage people to enjoy and look after the landscape around the world heritage site.

 

 

Let’s be seated.

Let’s be seated.

Good to see the benches in Sydney Gardens are getting the repair ‘promised’ in labels stuck onto their previously much-battered forms.

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The man working on them described it as ‘a temporary thing’ while everyone concentrates on the Heritage Lottery Fund application that may unlock millions towards a real ‘re-birth’ for this former Georgian pleasure gardens.

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