Weather impact on Great British​ Clean Up

Weather impact on Great British​ Clean Up

Important information for people planning to take part in this coming weekend’s Great British Clean Up.

Litter Pick with Boat Poster v3

B&NES have issued the following statement:

COLD WEATHER UPDATE: Please note, that with the severe weather forecast for this week, Keep Britain Tidy has issued a warning to all participants advising them to consider their safety first (http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/important-message-stay-safe-spring-clean) and to not go ahead with their Great British Clean Up events if there is a risk to participants’ safety.  If you are planning to attend an event, please check with the organiser to see if it still going ahead.  It is possible that some events may be postponed until another weekend.

How much​ to fly the flag?

How much​ to fly the flag?

Despite the fact it looks as if the Union flag on top the Guildhall has been the victim of council cuts – it has not actually been cut in half.

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The tip of the flag has caught on the pole creating the impression that is is a shadow of its former self.

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It is my understanding that the reason there hasn’t been a rush to the roof to lower it and disentangle the material is the sheer cost of such an operation.

When l settled in Bath seven years ago l was kindly taken up to the roof to get some super shots of the city and also the figure of  ‘Justice’ – up their with her scales.

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Now l hear – health and safety being what it is – they have to pay for a specialist to come and do the job for them.

Flying the ‘flag’ is not what it once was.

CURO stop new house scheme for Foxhill Estate.

CURO stop new house scheme for Foxhill Estate.

Curo has decided to stop its comprehensive redevelopment of the Foxhill Housing Estate and will not now be going in for major demolition and rebuilding.

The news – that Curo would be exploring refurbishment instead – was given to residents today in a letter from the organisation.

Houses Foxhill Road

B&NES has meanwhile issued a statement saying it is aware that the organisation has taken the decision to stop their comprehensive regeneration and is looking instead to explore with their tenants options for refurbishing the existing social housing on the site.

The Council statement continues: “We understand that Curo has committed to focusing significant investment in the refurbishment of existing Curo-owned homes over the next few years – to help deliver improvements to their tenants in Foxhill more quickly.

As the local planning authority, the Council has always taken a balanced view to this project.  However, the Council has always made it clear that it supports improvements to the quality of housing for local people, delivered in a way that has the broadest possible support amongst the Foxhill community, and the Council has made significant efforts to facilitate better communication between Curo and local residents. This has included working with residents and Curo to develop the Foxhill Charter and taking the lead in the successful application to Government for Housing Zone status.

Foxhill house

The Council, therefore, remains committed to the principles of improved housing and investment in the area, providing increased opportunities for residents in Foxhill.

We hope that Curo will take the opportunity to take stock of the situation and that they will continue to engage with their residents to give them more certainty over the future of the estate.

The Council will look at the implications of Curo’s decision in more detail over the coming weeks.”

The Mulberry Park development is not affected by this decision.

It’s electrifying!

It’s electrifying!

Never mind the ‘Beast from the East’ we had our own ‘monster’ to help chill us in Bath earlier this week..

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An historic – if slightly chilling – event.

On the 200th anniversary of its publication, we had gathered in Abbey Church Yard to honour the woman who gave us the nightmare that is Frankenstein.

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Mary Shelley

Yes, Mary Shelley wrote the dark gothic novel while lodging in a guest house that stood alongside the Grand Pump Room.

It’s been replaced now by the Concert Hall that became the way into the Roman Baths. Mary stayed at this address after she arrived in the city in September 1816.

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My thanks to the Akeman Press Archive for this picture of the Abbey Church Yard. Mary stayed in the library building to the extreme right. This rank of buildings was demolished in the late 19th century following the discovery of the Roman Baths. Mary Shelley features in an Akeman Press publication called ‘Literary Walks in Bath: Eleven Excursions in the Company of Eminent Authors.”  written by Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott.

While she was here she attended scientific lectures by a Dr Wilkinson in the nearby Kingston Lecture Room. He suggested that one day electricity – then in its infancy – might be used to bring inanimate matter to life.

This idea resonated with Mary who had made notes of the nightmares she had during a stormy night in Switzerland earlier that year when staying with the poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. Out of these experiences came the novel Frankenstein.

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The location of the – at this point in the proceedings – still curtained plaque. L to R Sir Christopher, the Chair of B&NES, Cllr Cherry Beath and the Head of Heritage Services, Stephen Bird.

Mary and Percy married in December 1816. By the time Mary left Bath in February 1817 much of the novel had been written. It was published anonymously in London in January 1818. Mary died in 1851 when 54 years old.

A plaque has been positioned above what would have been the cellar beneath her lodging house. Ironically, it now contains an electricity substation.

 

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Sir Christopher completes the unveiling with the help of the Chair of B&NES Cllr Cherry Beath.

Performing the official opening was Professor Sir Christopher Frayling – a recognised authority on Gothic fiction and film – who is also the author of ‘Frankenstein – the first two hundred years’ which is published by Reel Art Press.

The driving force behind this commemoration was Betty Suchar, Chair of the Management Committee of the Bath Royal Scientific and Literary Institute.

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The Mary Shelley plaque.

Sir Christopher, who is best known for his study of popular culture – went on to give a lecture on Mary Shelley at the BRSLI after the unveiling.

 

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Creative Producer Sheila Hannon – co-founder of the Bristol-based Show of Strength professional theatre company – which has a long history of producing new works in non-theatre spaces. She’s another keen supporter of Mary Shelley’s connections with Bath. Once again – this year – the company will be doing its ‘Walk Her (Mary Shelley’s) Footsteps’ tour of the city. That’s on various dates from March to October. Booking details via www.showofstrength.org.uk

Weather takes its toll

Weather takes its toll

Work to repair the historic Cleveland Bridge Toll House has been rescheduled due to cold weather affecting specialist building materials.

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The two-weeks of repair works were due to start on March 5, however, contractors say the mortar will not set properly in temperatures below five degrees centigrade.

Road users are being advised the works will now start on March 19 for two weeks with manually-controlled two-way traffic signals during the day in order to be as reactive to traffic conditions as possible and minimise delays.

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Essential roadworks and improvements are taking place during the next few months in Bath’s A4 London Road and A36 Cleveland Place.

Work started on February 19 and motorists are encouraged to plan for longer journey times than usual or use alternative routes.

London Road/Cleveland Place junction will be resurfaced together with the rebuilding of the Cleveland Bridge toll house, which was damaged in an accident last year.

Gas works are also being carried out at this time to avoid further disruption again later in the year.

Councillor Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe) cabinet member for Transport and Environment, said: “These are essential works and unfortunately there will be delays for motorists but we ask you to be patient with us while the work is carried out. Extended working hours will be in operation in order that the works can be completed as quickly as possible and to minimise disruption.”

The work programme is as follows:

  • 19thFebruary for up to 12 days: Wales & West gas works in London Road near its junction with Thomas Street. The work will result in a lane closure.  The lane restrictions will need to be in place 24 hours because of an open excavation.
  • 19hMarch for up to two weeks: repairs to the Cleveland Bridge toll house require 24 hour temporary two-way traffic signals on the bridge because the scaffolding for the works will encroach into the road. The traffic signals will be manually controlled during the day in order to be as reactive to traffic conditions as possible.
  • 19thMarch for up to four weeks: extension of the existing loading bay in Walcot Terrace, London Road. Works to be undertaken outside of peak hours under lane closures. This work is subject to confirmation pending the outcome of consultation on the loading bay changes
  • 26thMarch to 4th April: resurfacing of London Road/Cleveland Place junction and Cleveland Bridge. Most of the works will be undertaken during the night from 8pm to 6amand there should be minimal disruption during the day.
  • 19thApril for up to two weeks: amendments to existing cycle build-out in London Road near Walcot Buildings and installation of cycle lane segregation units along the existing cycle lane. Works are likely to require closure of the cycle lane and there should be minimal disruption to other traffic.

The council’s Variable Message Signs located across various routes into Bath will display the latest information to drivers.

 

 

How tree rings help solve a Tudor mystery

How tree rings help solve a Tudor mystery

The most powerful image we have today of Henry the Eighth is thanks to a portrait the Monarch commissioned from a German painter called Hans Holbein the Younger.

 

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The painting of Henry V111 at the Victoria Art Gallery

 

It originally featured in a mural that also included the king’s wife – Jane Seymour- and his parents – Henry the 7th and Elizabeth of York.

The original was destroyed when Whitehall Palace was consumed by fire in 1698 but – thankfully – Henry recognised the iconic importance of this royal image and encouraged other artists to paint their own copies of the work to circulate amongst friends and ambassadors.

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Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery was hoping the image of Henry they had in their collection was one of these Tudor copies but – until now – they couldn’t be sure.

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I have been along to talk to Collections Manager Katharine Wall to find out more about how their image of Henry has been put to the test.

I asked her first to explain how it came into their collection.

 

Spring clean for Bath

Spring clean for Bath

Community groups in Bath are joining forces with others across the country over the weekend of 2nd to 4th March to make our country a nicer place to live, by taking part in the annual national Great British Spring Clean, organised by Keep Britain Tidy.

In our patch, there’s even a boat that’s been hired to help clear up the River Avon and volunteers are being encouraged to come along and take part.

Seven groups have already applied to Bath & North East Somerset Council for support for the event, which runs from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4thMarch. The Council is helping volunteer groups by providing litter picking equipment (including, gloves, litter pickers, hi-visibility clothing and rubbish bags) and clearing the bags from designated places.

Across Bath and North East Somerset, volunteers will be litter picking areas including Keynsham, Westfield, Wellow and areas of Bath such as Twerton, Westmoreland, Widcombe and the River Avon.

This is the first time a boat has been used to help with the litter picks, along with a fully trained volunteer crew, whilst other people join in on foot.  Volunteers are being encouraged to sign up and take part by going to www.raclp.eventbrite.co.uk. There will be two clean up shifts (10am-11.30am and 12.30pm-2pm) on Saturday 3rd March, meeting at the Pontoon at the rear of Bath Train Station.  The team are aiming to recycle as much as they can.

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Guy Hodgson, one of the volunteers taking part, said: “This event is a great way of tackling river and ocean pollution. For a lasting improvement, we urgently need action from central government to deliver a comprehensive deposit returns scheme for drinks containers which rewards good behaviour.”

In the last 5 years, Bath & North East Somerset Council has cleared up over 4,000 tonnes of litter every year.  The litter picks will improve our neighbourhoods for everyone to enjoy.  They will make the place cleaner and tidier and reduce the hazards to people and animals caused by litter such as plastic.

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Rubbish thrown over the wall into Sydney Gardens

Cllr Bob Goodman (Conservative, Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Development & Neighbourhoods, said: “The Spring Clean is just one weekend, but the Council is keen to encourage groups to take part throughout the year, especially at times when demand for equipment is quieter.

“With concerns about the impact of plastic increasing throughout the country, especially as a result of programmes such as the Blue Planet, this is a great way to do your bit and help to protect our environment from the damage caused by carelessly discarded litter.  Everyone can do their bit to help reduce the problem of littering; make sure you throw your rubbish in a litter bin or take it home with you, join a local group or set one up,  or pick up litter when you’re out and about, providing it’s safe to do so.”

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Canalside grit container used for general rubbish and dog poo bags!

Another group taking part is the Keynsham Wombles, who hold regular litter picks throughout the year – last year they even used abseilers to help litter pick parts of the park!  This year they will be starting on foot from various points around Keynsham including Santander for the Memorial Park, the Train Station, Stoney Lane allotments, Dapps Hill Bridge and The Lock Keeper pub.  The litter picks will run from 2pm-4pm, finishing with free tea and cakes at the Bowls Club in the park.

To find out more about how to organise a litter pick, please go to the Council’s website; www.bathnes.gov.uk/organisealitterpick. For more information on keeping your neighbourhood clean and tidy, you may wish to go to www.bathnes.gov.uk/friendsofourstreet for information and free downloadable materials.