Uncovering more of Roman Bath

Uncovering more of Roman Bath

The Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society have been busy under York Street – helping prepare a part of the Roman Baths complex – normally unseen by the public – for upcoming excavations. However, during February, there will be special tours for people to watch the ‘dig’ in action.


BACAS at work on the site under York Street.

Volunteers from BACAS have been carrying out geophysical survey work – using various techniques including resistivity profiling – to try and locate the route of a Roman culvert and identify any other underground features.

They have also been using temperature measurements to try and identify any hot spots on the ground that might suggest the presence of hot spring water beneath.

The survey work has revealed some interesting results. There is a lot of variation in materials below the Roman floor levels, which suggests the Romans were doing a lot below ground in this area of the site. This includes the presence of drains that would have drained water from the baths.

The results are currently being analysed and interpreted.

Meanwhile this month, as part of the Archway Project – new tours will take visitors behind the scenes to see the largest archaeological excavations at the Roman Baths for more than 30 years.8062afa1-7e81-4595-8ef2-3c9ccef8bcf0

Highlights will include:

  • Trenches that are being excavated by the archaeologists
  • A Roman exercise area
  • An in-situ stylobate – a colonnaded walkway which contains a Roman doorway leading through to a possible row of shops, where traders might have sold memorabilia to visitors, oil for the sauna, or food and drink
  • The other side of the south wall of the Great Bath, behind the curved alcoves (exedra) where people relaxed

The areas being excavated will be transformed as part of the Archway Project into an exciting archaeological investigation zone where schoolchildren will be able to participate in hands-on archaeological activities, due to open in 2019.

The tours, that will run every 30 minutes throughout February from 10.10am-3.40pm, will be free with admission to the Roman Baths. Please give a small, optional donation to the Roman Baths Foundation to support the excavations. (Charity number: 1163044).

Low take-up​ for rate ‘relief’

Low take-up​ for rate ‘relief’

More than 600 businesses in Bath and North East Somerset are in line for business rate awards ranging from £25 to £9,656 – but it seems they are slow coming forward to claim it.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has identified 625 businesses which qualify for revaluation support in 2017/18 to help business following last year’s revaluation by the national Valuation Office, which resulted in a number of ratepayers facing higher business rates bills.visitbath.co

In 2017 the Government decided in its spring budget to offer further help to these businesses by allocating some additional funding to local authorities so they could use the money to award business rates relief under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

A report by Bath & North East Somerset Council says the council awarded this relief as a percentage of the ratepayers’ 2017/18 liability based on qualifying criteria but only about 30% of businesses applied for the relief.

Councillor Charles Gerrish (Conservative, Keynsham North), cabinet member for finance and efficiency, said: “We want to get this government money to the qualifying rate-payers but we have had a low take-up despite contacting all 625 businesses about claiming for the award. The awards for businesses will range from more than £25 to the highest which is £9,656.54 based on qualifying criteria.”

To help get the award to businesses an automatic payment with a letter will go to each business asking the company to advise the council if the total amount of discretionary state aid they have received over the last three financial years exceeds the de minimis limit of 200,000 euros.

As the scheme is only open to small and medium-sized enterprises it is highly unlikely that any ratepayers will have exceeded that limit.

It has also been agreed to set the amount of revaluation support relief to be awarded in respect of 2018/19 at 48.5% of the amount awarded in respect of 2017/18; allow officers to award relief for public houses in respect of 2018/19 and

remove some obsolete references to re-occupation relief, which can no longer be awarded.


B&NES qualifying criteria for relief:

  • The property must have a rateable value below £200,000 as at 01.04.2017
  • There must have been an increase in rateable value of more than 12.5% due to the revaluation
  • The ratepayer must have seen an increase in their bill because of the revaluation
  • The ratepayer must be a small or medium enterprise

In addition to the qualifying criteria these rules apply;

  • Properties which are empty are excluded from the scheme whilst empty
  • Ratepayers who became liable for any period after 01/04/2017 are excluded
  • Ratepayers who would qualify for £25 or less are excluded
  • Retrospective changes in rateable value are ignored for the purpose of calculating this relief.




Heritage half-term fun on offer in Bath.

Heritage half-term fun on offer in Bath.

Hands-on, half-term fun for families coming up at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery.

roman baths

The Roman Baths.

Kids can get creative and a make laurel crown, add sparkle to a royal tiara, design a Georgian hat, dress like a Roman in a toga, or create a stylish sedan chair.

All activities are included in the normal admission price. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Councillor Paul Myers, (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield) cabinet member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “There’s something for children of all ages to do in our museums over the half-term holidays. The great news for local families is that all activities are free for Bath & North East Somerset residents with a Discovery Card. We hope this will encourage local parents and carers to sign up for a Discovery Card if they don’t already have one, as well as attracting new visitors into our museums.”

Togas and Tunics

The Roman Baths

Saturday 10, Sunday 11, Saturday 17, Sunday 18 February 2018, 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm

Find out how the Romans dressed and try on a toga.

Caesar’s Secrets

The Roman Baths

Monday 12-Friday 16 February 2018, 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm

Learn about Julius Caesar and use his secret code to make a Roman laurel crown.

fashion museum

Fashion Museum Bath

Top It Off

Fashion Museum Bath

Thursday 15 February 2018, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm

Top off your outfit by creating a tiara, crown or sash and explore the new Royal Women exhibition.

Hats Off to Bath

Victoria Art Gallery

Wednesday 14 February 2018, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm

Turn yourself into a Georgian with hats and headgear. Ages 3 to 7.

victoria art gallery

The Rotunda at the top of the staircase in the Victoria Art Gallery.

Go Out in Style

Victoria Art Gallery

Friday 16 February 2018, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm

Create a sedan chair fit for a king. Ages 6 to 11.


One of the genuine articles. On display at the Assembly Rooms.






Trust calls for action to determine historic building’s future.

Trust calls for action to determine historic building’s future.

A call for action in determining the future of the old King Edward’s Junior School building in Bath’s Broad Street has been made by  Bath Preservation Trust.


The old KES School – by Thomas Jelly – in Broad Street.

It follows a recent attack by vandals on what is a Grade 11* listed property which has stood derelict for years.

The Trust’s CEO Caroline Kay says:  The recent break-in, as well as causing damage to the historic structure, shows how vulnerable a property like this can be when its owner leaves it unused, increasingly derelict and potentially at risk of irreversible damage through vandalism.


A side door has been completely smashed.

The building is Grade II*, a high level of national designation, and is on the national ‘at risk’ register.  It is a poor advertisement both for a World Heritage City and for one of the South West’s leading independent schools, who sold the building in good faith over 20 years ago.

The Local Authority need to get on the front foot to inspect its current condition and determine whether or not the owner has any intention of carrying out the extant planning permission.

Caroline Kay (medium)

Caroline Kay, CEO Bath Preservation Trust

 Also Historic England need to do as they say on their website, where ‘their  local Heritage at Risk teams strive to find solutions for sites at risk’.  We would urge them to demonstrate to the concerned public that Historic England, the Council and the owner are working actively to address this long overdue eyesore; and if not, what they propose to do about it.


Let’s talk Bath transport!

Let’s talk Bath transport!

Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse will be in Larkhall in March – attending an open meeting where you can have your say about transport in Bath.

It’s being organised by Transition Larkhall on March 3rd at the New Oriel Hall, in Larkhall,  from 9.30 am to 2pm.
Poster for TL Travel Meeting
Joanna Wright tells Bath Newseum that the meeting is all about “thinking differently about travel in and around Bath. We want peoples’ ideas about transport in Bath.

Wera Hobhouse MP – and other political and campaign groups – will be present to
join the discussion about the future of travel in and around the city.

A professional facilitator will lead the discussion, focused on the idea of
thinking differently about travel in and around Bath.
We’ll be asking who is moving around and why are they moving that way. How do you travel, and how would you like to travel, around Bath? Let’s help create a transport vision for Bath.”

The event is free and open to all members of the public.  ‘Booking is
essential , says Joanna, as numbers of places are limited. Please RSVP* if you would like
to attend.’

Please send your details to Joanna Wright at
jojowright@postmaster.co.uk or to transitionlarkhall@gmail.com


Too many ad-bikes?

Too many ad-bikes?

Are our cycle stands in Bath under pressure from advertising? John and Lucy Taylor write:

‘My wife and I cycled into Bath today as usual and wondered if you’d ever run a feature on the problem of businesses which take up limited bike parking with their advertising bikes?

We left our bikes at the bottom of Milsom Street, next to a florist’s advertising bike and a bike with a huge child trailer advertising sash windows.

Great news feed we get via your emails thank you; always interesting.”

advert bikes

Thanks for your comments and kind words about Bath Newseum. I haven’t come across those particular ad-bikes but remember seeing several regulars on other cycle stand pitches.

What do other cyclists feel about this? Nothing illegal – as far as l know – but is it a case of occupying much-needed cycle parking spaces or plenty enough to go around!

At a ​time​ of cuts – new bus route for Julian Road?

At a ​time​ of cuts – new bus route for Julian Road?

As bus users in Bath brace themselves for more cuts in services – are we about to see a new bus route passing through Julian Road?

Jenny Noad writes to tell me:

I walk to work along Julian Road and opposite the vets/newsagents there is a very handy bay where you can park for free for 30 mins to visit the laundrette/co-op/vet/Happy Days garden shop. I couldn’t believe it this morning when I saw BANES cones stopping cars from parking there due to a NEW BUS SHELTER being installed!

The limited parking lay-by​ in Julian Road. Photowas taken​n by Jenny Noad.

Firstly, I have never, even seen a bus go along Julian Road, secondly a new bus shelter means a new bus route? With temperatures rising about impending bus cuts, (the 6A is being cut up the hill to my house in Fairfield Park) so a new bus route would enrage me!

The no parking notice. The photo​ was taken by Jenny Noad.

Also, does that mean you have to park and pay now for just popping into the shops above ! I took photos if you want to see them! Thought you may know about this and could offer clarification! Sorry, I feel like Mrs Angry on a Happy Friday day 🙂
However, it seems we do have buses using that road.
A spokesperson for B&NES has told me:

“There are bus services running along Julian Road, and have been for many years. There are bus stops at regular intervals along the road.

Eastbound – Service 20C runs hourly to Bath city centre and University of Bath, service 701 runs hourly to Bath city centre and Oldfield Park, and service 700 runs four times a day to Bath city centre

Westbound – Service 20A runs hourly to RUH and Twerton, service 701 runs hourly to Sion Hill, and service 700 runs four times a day to Bath city centre

Full information on these and other buses is available on www.travelinesw.com . Real time information for these and most other buses in Bath is available on a smartphone app – full details at www.travelwest.info .”

Also, please scroll down through the comments below and you will learn more. Thanks to Virginia Knight and Arnold Root for their contributions.