A Bathonian’s French connection.

A Bathonian’s French connection.

Getting away from cheap political jibes about who beat who in previous bloody European wars, l am grateful to a follower of Bath Newseum for a story of unlikely links between himself and a former French leader called Napoleon.

This wasn’t the one who was finally defeated by the Duke of Wellington’s international army at Waterloo but his nephew, Napoleon the Third – the first President of the French Republic and later – after a coup detat –  self-proclaimed Emperor of France.



Napoleon the Third.


Now, many Bathonians – both privately and publicly – get the chance to look around the Mayor’s Parlour in the Guildhall.

That was something local resident Fred Edwards was doing and he took a particular interest in a medal on display.

It was presented by the former French Emperor to the Corporation of Bath as a thank you for loaning the city regalia to the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867.


The medallion presented to Bath by Napoleon the Third.  Photo Fred Edwards.

Napoleon had started his reign determined to rebuild Paris. He launched a series of enormous public works which included everything from new sewers, parks and grand avenues, to railway stations, completing the Les Halles market and building the Paris Opera – the largest theatre in the world.

His international world fair gave him a chance to show off his city – just three years before war with Prussia brought about his downfall.

Eventually, Napoleon and his wife and son went into exile in England – during which time he visited Bath. There is a bronze plaque outside number 55 Great Pulteney Street to show where father and son are believed to have stayed.


The bronze plaque in Great Pulteney Street. Photo Fred Edwards.

His son Prince Louis – an officer in the British Army – was killed in 1879 fighting in the South African Zulu Wars.

This is where our man Fred can claim a connection – after learning that the Emperor’s son had died in that conflict – during a conversation while making his Guildhall visit.


Fred Edwards – pictured outside the address in Great Pulteney Street where the Emperor and his son had stayed. Photo Fred Edwards.

He todd Bath Newseum that his great great grandfather had fought in the Zulu war as well and his visit to the Mayor’s Parlour had prompted him to revisit correspondence his great great grandfather – Private Ellis Edwards – had written to his parents the year the prince died.

“I’ve found a copy of the letter which he wrote to his parents on 1879 which shows what a small world we live in!

From Private Ellis Edwards of Cefn Mawr, near Wrexham to his family.
8 July 1879
I wish to express my opinion of the great battle, which we had on the 4th day of July whilst taking the capital of Zululand. The scene was horrible. The fight lasted for one hour and ten minutes and was extremely hard. The strength of the enemy was 25,000 whilst our strength was only 4,500.

After hard fighting we repulsed the enemy with the loss of 3000 killed and 500 wounded; our loss was 10 killed and 40 wounded. I can assure you that the Zulus are a lot of fearless men. They poured upon us like a number of lions. The burning of Ulundi—their main support—was the greatest fire I ever saw. It continued burning for four days.

I am very much pleased to tell you that I really think the war is close at an end now. We captured 800. Head of cattle. I am very sorry to tell you that it is rumoured in this camp that we are going to India after this affair is settled. At the same time I hope it is wrong, as we have had plenty of foreign climates.

I can assure you that the hardships which I have gone through are beyond measure. I have got to wash all my clothes and bake the bread, which we eat. We have to march fourteen miles a day and, after arriving in a strange camp, we have to dig trenches before we get any food.

If this regiment does not go to India I shall be at home by Christmas…. I am very sorry to tell you of the sad misfortune, which befell the young Prince Napoleon whilst scouting out in the wilds of Zululand. After the Zulus had killed him they stabbed him in fourteen different places. I was one of the men who removed his body in the van in order to send it home to England….
It is very hard to get any paper or stamps in this part of the world. I have been forced to steal out of the way every time I want to write because we haven’t got one moment as we can call our own … Wood is very scarce here at present. We cook our food with dried cow dung….

Prince Napoleon was to be buried with his father in the Imperial Crypt at St Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough, Hampshire.

Fascinating story Fred – and thanks for sharing it with Bath Newseum fans.

‘Lifeline’ for Cleveland Pools?

‘Lifeline’ for Cleveland Pools?

Seems all is not lost when it comes to the restoration of Bath’s historic Cleveland Pools – following a meeting of trustees with representatives from the Heritage Lottery Fund who had officially turned down a Stage 2 bid to secure their final grant of 4.1 million to help restore this former Georgian lido beside the River Avon.

HLF have said they will work with the Trust to submit another application for funding – but a press release does not give any indication as to how long all this might take.


Cleveland Pools


Here’s the press statement, released this morning:

“Following the decision of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to turn down the Stage 2 application for funding to restore the Cleveland Pools in Bath, the trustees of the project have met with representatives of the HLF to discuss the reasons behind this decision.

The meeting, held on 11th January, was encouraging, with the Heritage Lottery Fund confirming that they consider the approved plans set out a really strong foundation for the future of the Pools. This has given the Cleveland Pools Trust cause for optimism as it continues with its efforts to revive the historic pools for swimming and recreation for the people of Bath and beyond.

The trustees

The Cleveland Pools Trust team: Paul Simons (new Chair), Ann Dunlop, Andy Mullett, Sally Helvey, Fred Parkinson, Suzy Granger, Ina Harris and Roger Houghton.

Outstanding issues need to be resolved by the Cleveland Pools Trust but both they and the Heritage Lottery Fund believe that this can be done satisfactorily along with the full cooperation and commitment of Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES).

The Cleveland Pools Trust will now work with the Heritage Lottery Fund to resolve existing issues, and submit a new project application.

This reprieve has been welcomed by the Cleveland Pools Trust’s new Chairman Paul Simons who has been with the project for five years. He succeeds Ann Dunlop who, after 13 years in the role, will become the Trust’s Honorary President while remaining an active trustee.

Ann Dunlop says: “The Heritage Lottery Fund have indicated they will work with the Cleveland Pools Trust to submit another application for the restoration scheme which got full planning approval by B&NES last year. We remain committed to achieving the project’s aims and will work tirelessly to bring this to fruition as quickly as possible”.

Paul Simons says: “The Cleveland Pools Trust has been delighted with the re-affirmation of support for the project from its many hundreds of enthusiasts: local residents and volunteers, swimmers, families and schools, heritage campaigners, and those who have pledged to support the project financially. We are determined to work with them to achieve a truly remarkable and unique facility”.

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, says: “We’ve supported the Cleveland Pools Trust over the last three years to find a solution for this complex site’s needs, and recognise the huge amount of work that the Trust has carried out. Cleveland Pools is a special and significant part of our heritage, with a clear need for restoration, and we will continue to work with the Cleveland Pools Trust to develop a new project application, and resolve the outstanding issues.”

LATEST: Vice Chair, Ina Harris told Bath Newseum – Saturday morning- 

“We are entering into discussions with our supporters, such as B&NES and the Architectural Heritage Fund, to plan a way forward and the timeline will then become clearer.”
Bath Spa celebrates roll in Silk River programme.

Bath Spa celebrates roll in Silk River programme.

Staff from Bath Spa University recently took part in a year-long programme of cultural exchange that celebrated the cultural ties and history between the UK and India.
The Silk River programme launched last February at an official ceremony at Buckingham Palace and was part of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017, a government initiative that marked the seventieth anniversary of Indian-independence.

Silk River Project - Image 1 for press - Silk River team in Murshidabad

The Silk River team in Murshidabad

Led by internationally renowned arts company Kinetika and supported by the Arts Council England and British Council, Silk River explored the relationship between twenty communities living alongside the banks of the rivers Thames and Hooghly.
Bath Spa University was a key partner in the programme. Other partners included the Crafts Council of India West Bengal, Future Hope, Murshidabad Heritage Development Society, Jungle Crows, Kinetika, Rural Crafts Hubs of West Bengal, Think Arts and West Bengal Tourism.
As part of the programme a team of international artists, writers and photographers led by Kinetika’s founder and Artistic Director Ali Pretty, worked together to gather stories from people living and working alongside the River Thames and River Hooghly. Twenty hand-painted hand-woven silk scrolls were created to show the shared heritage between each community.
Two performative walks were held to celebrate the end of Silk River. The Silk River UK walk took place in September and saw staff from Bath Spa University walk from Kew Gardens to Southend over the course of ten days.

Silk River - Image 2 for press - Closing ceremony Victoria Memorial Hall 2

Silk River closing ceremony at the Victoria Memorial Hall

The Silk River India walk took place last month. Over the duration of twelve days, staff from Bath Spa University travelled from Azimgani, Murshidabad to Batanagar, Koltaka. They were joined by UK delegates and key members from each of the ten River Hooghly communities.
They met with members of the community to discover the rich heritage of the region and participated in a series of talks and cultural programmes which raised awareness of the UK and India’s relationship.
The twenty scrolls were carried by participants from each walk from the starting destination to the end destination.
Silk River - Image 3 for press - Victoria Memorial Hall exhibition 1

Exhibition of the Silk River scrolls at the Victoria Memorial Hall

Last month staff from Bath Spa University travelled to India to attend an official closing ceremony at the Victoria Memorial Hall in Koltaka.
Mike Johnston, Senior Lecturer in Broadcast Media Production at Bath Spa University, interviewed key partners and documented the walks. He attended artist workshops in the UK and India, and photographed the development of the scrolls.
He said: “I have been involved with Silk River since last year. The scrolls were exhibited at Kew Gardens for a week before the emphasis moved back to India. The walk in India was very successful. We had a significant turnout from British and Indian participants.
Silk River - Image 4 for press - Victoria Memorial Hall exhibition 2

Another view of the exhibition of the Silk River scrolls at the Victoria Memorial Hall

“The Victoria Memorial Hall is an incredible building and it was great to have the closing ceremony there.”
The scrolls were paraded at the closing ceremony where dancers and musicians performed. Representatives from each of the ten River Thames and ten River Hooghly communities attended the ceremony along with the British Council and the West Bengal Government Home Secretary.
Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, British High Commissioner to India, and Alan Gemmell OBE, British Council India Director, also attended the ceremony and delivered speeches.
Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, said: “It’s been inspiring what we’ve been seeing, not just the colours but the enthusiasm, the amount of determination and commitment over the years to make this a reality. It’s what I call the living bridge – it is bringing communities together in the UK and India in a way that is really relevant to the communities that they exist in.”
Alan Gemmell OBE, added: “Silk River has been at the heart of our mission to use the Year of Culture to celebrate the modern day relationship between our two countries, to connect with people and to inspire them to build a relationship for the next seventy years. It’s been a wonderful event.”
The scrolls were exhibited at the Victoria Memorial Hall after the ceremony.
Lee Scott, Subject Leader for Creative Computing at Bath Spa University, and Bath Spa Creative Computing students created a website for the programme which features news on Silk River, photographs and video footage from the walks. Lee also created a web app for the programme which showcases all of the scrolls.
He said: “It has been a great pleasure working with Kinetika and Mike Johnston on Silk River. It’s always fantastic when our students get to work on high-quality client projects.”
Kevin Rushby, Travel Journalist for The Guardian participated in both walks and wrote a daily blog about each route for the Silk River website.
New Student Award announced.

New Student Award announced.

Students who have made an outstanding contribution to the city of Bath are in line for a new award announced by the Chair of Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Nominations are being asked for a student or group of students from either of the city’s universities and from Bath College.


Pictured l-r Kalyn Mallard of the Student Community Partnership and Chair of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Councillor Cherry Beath.

Announcing the award, the Chair of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Councillor Cherry Beath, said “As a university city, Bath very much gains from the active involvement of students from our two universities and from Bath College. I am pleased to be making this award, which will highlight the great contribution that students make to our city.”

Kalyn Mallard, of the Student Community Partnership, added:  “We are very pleased that students who contribute to our city are being recognised in this way.  It’s easy to make a nomination, so please start sending them in now.  The closing date for nominations is 16 February.”

The award will be presented to a student or a group of students who have made an outstanding contribution to the City of Bath. This can include any aspect of living in the city that benefits other people – for example building good neighbourly relationships, doing acts of kindness, working as a volunteer, having an active involvement in local communities, and helping people in need.

The presentation will be made at the Living Together conference, which will be held at The Forum in Bath on 7 March from 1- 4.30pm.

The conference brings together students and staff from the two universities and from Bath College with residents and with the council, as well as the police, and from local churches. The event is free and bookings can be made by going to www.eventbrite.co.uk  and searching for Living Together.

Nominations for the award should include the following, either for an individual or for each student in a group:

  • Name and address of student(s)
  • Name of University or College
  • Name of course
  • Length of course
  • In which year
  • Email address
  • Mobile number

They should also include a description of the contribution that the student or group makes to the City of Bath, including:

  • What they do
  • How often, for how long
  • Who benefits, and in what way

If you would like to nominate a student or a group of students, please send an email to  community-liaison@bath.ac.uk and ask for a nomination form or click here https://goo.gl/forms/nV2JuahhNIKm1VtI3

Each nomination must be signed by two people, both of whom have direct experience of what the student(s) are doing and the nomination must in by 16 February.


Could a Swiss city show Bath the way?

Could a Swiss city show Bath the way?

Congestion campaigners in Bath have been watching a video – uploaded on Vimeo – which shows how the Swiss city of Zurich is dealing with its traffic problems.

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A still from the on-line Vimeo video produced by Streetfilms.

Entitled ‘Zurich: Where people are welcome and cars are not’ it is an interesting take on smart city planning to make living and working in a city much more of a pleasant experience.

I do suggest both officers and councillors at B&NES sit back and take note – and then get together and show that Bath can also do something radical.

Here’s the link:

The rubbish​ problem on your doorstep B&NES!

The rubbish​ problem on your doorstep B&NES!

Out in the suburbs, we have all been given either strengthened sacks or wheelie bins in which to put our rubbish.

However, it seems, the same rule doesn’t apply in the city centre where various private firms have contracts to pick up commercial waste.


There is foodstuff spilling out of this ripped bag.

I have never heard of mixed recycled bags containing food but this one obviously did and that’s why it’s been pecked open – just across the road from the B&NES Guildhall too!


Rubbish – almost on the Guildhall steps – B&NES!

I am hearing the contractors only make one round and – if bags are not left out at the right time – they get missed.

Surely all bags should be marked with the name of the business leaving them on the street. That way, when blames needs to be apportioned, it goes to the right shop or cafe door.


Pieces of cucumber and tomato spill out of this ‘recycling’ bag.

As a cyclist – and sitting above two wheels – l can vouch for how bad the inner-city roads are but this depression in the bus gate outside Waitrose was an obstacle l met on foot and nearly fell through stepping into it!


The sooner B&NES gets a congestion charge and tourist tax in place the sooner there might be some money available to fix the roads!

Coming back home along the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath l was sad to see a board advertising the fact that planning permission has been granted for three homes to be built in a canalside garden.


A canalside garden – which opens up views of the countryside beyond – is going to have three houses built upon it.

It’s going to means houses quite close to the canalside edge which – at this point – affords views of the countryside beyond.


Not denying a successful local builder the right to build quality housing, but feel it’s a shame a patch of canal front is going to make way for three homes. Why B&NES?

I am not denying the builder the right to construct quality homes and – indeed – permission has been given – but shame B&NES can’t look at the bigger picture here.


Working on water.

Working on water.

If you are a regular user of the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath through Bath you may have noticed a group of people busy cutting back the overgrowth, painting railings and shifting tons of accumulated soil from the offside abutments.


Some of the volunteers at work on the Sydney Gardens stretch of the K & A.

They are unpaid volunteers – working under the auspices of the Canal and River Trust – and currently concentrating activity on the canal as it runs through Sydney Gardens.

Historically, this was an area created to be a Georgian ‘Vauxhall’ – a pleasure garden – opened in 1795 –  for grown-ups! Which offered everything from outside dining to adult swings in the middle of a thrill-on-every-dead-end labyrinth.

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The shape of the canal through Sydney Gardens.

The Kennet and Avon Canal Company paid a fair sum to be allowed to dig out a route through the park and charged with ensuring that what was created looked good too.

John Rennie was the engineer who linked the Severn with the Thames and London with excavations between 1799 and 1810.

These days the narrowboats aren’t carrying coal, stone or foodstuffs but carrying pleasure seekers taking advantage of what has been a massive and expensive restoration of the route.

The Sydney Gardens bit is well-used but was getting just as run down as the parkland around it.


The canal through Sydney Gardens.

Whilst the Gardens apply for HLF funding to spruce things up, this section of the canal below relies upon the skills and muscle power of its volunteer men and women.

This section is being led by Ian Herve who – when not on canal business – is a volunteer Mayor’s Guide like me.


Volunteer, Ian Herve who is leading the group currently working wonders along the canal through Sydney Gardens.

I met him down on the towpath to hear more of the group’s plans for ‘enhanced improvement’ of this stretch of well-used and much-loved canal.



Find out more about how you could join the team as a volunteer by clicking on https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteerhttps://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer