Awash with memories?

An appeal has gone out for people’s memories and images of the former spa and Bath City Laundry as part of a fascinating Bath Spa University project.

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A model showing the proposed conversion of the old laundry in to a Learner Centre and World Heritage Centre.

Students are asking for memories and images of the laundry in York Street and Swallow Street during the 1950s to 1970s.

The memories collected will be made available to the public as a digital resource for residents and visitors to explore. This will include photos, documents, written memories and recorded interviews.

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An image showing the laundry being cleaned in 1972.

Bath City Laundry was built in c.1889 by city architect Major Charles Davis, as part of the Victorian programme of improvements to the area around the Roman Baths.

The laundry was located here in order to take advantage of the naturally hot water, which flowed from the King’s Spring to the laundry’s boiler house via cast iron pipes in a tunnel below York Street, and then back from the boiler house to the Victorian spa facilities via a pipe in the decorative arch over the street.

As well as washing towels for the spa, the laundry was used to wash all kinds of things for the council, from roller towels in washrooms to overalls for Parks Department staff and napkins for the Pump Room. In the 1950s it was washing nearly half a million items a year, but the demise of the spa and the changing nature of many council activities resulted in its eventual closure in 1976.

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A long section through the Archway Project scheme.

Now, the laundry is about to take on a new lease of life. The Archway Project (www.romanbaths.co.uk/archway) will create a new World Heritage Centre and Learning Centre for the Roman Baths in the building, opening in 2019.

Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We are keen to hear from anyone who can give us details about the former life of these buildings, which are an important part of Bath’s history as a spa destination.”

Sarah Morton, Lecturer in Heritage at Bath Spa University, said: “The Bath City Laundry project will give our third year undergraduate Heritage students the opportunity to plan and carry out an oral history project, produce a digital resource as part of the development of the new World Heritage and Learning Centre and also connect them with local residents who have memories of the site.

“We are excited to be working with the Roman Baths and the Archway Project and to be able to give our students the opportunity to plan and produce a public resource, as this gives them invaluable experience of working in the heritage sector, project management and developing resources for a client. We also have a number of other student projects and placements with the Roman Baths that will be happening over the next two years and are thrilled to be part of the Archway Project, so that our students will be directly contributing to the interpretation at the new World Heritage and Learning Centre.”

To share your memories of Bath City Laundry please email Vicky_Young@bathnes.gov.uk / call 01225 477773 / write to The Roman Baths Museum Office, The Pump Room, Stall Street, Bath BA1 1LZ / tweet @RomanBathsBath