Bath’s role in a monster novel.

Bath’s role in a monster novel.

Bath finally gets around to honouring the creator of the dark gothic novel Frankenstein next week with the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to its author  Mary Shelley.

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Mary Shelley

It’ll be attached to the outside wall of the building housing the main entrance to the Roman Baths. This former Concert Hall was built on the site of a lodging house – next to the Grand Pump Room – where Mary stayed after she arrived in the city in September 1816.

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The Abbey Church Yard 1889-90. Mary lodged in the premises to the right of The Civet Cat and to the left of the Grand Pump Room. © B&NES

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.

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.

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The former concert hall – turned Roman Baths entranceway​ now stands on the site of Mary’s lodgings. The Grand Pump Room is to the right. It’s my understanding the plaque will go on one side of the entrance way to the ticket office.

The unveiling will take place at 6pm on Tuesday, February 27th and everyone is welcome to attend.

 

 

Goodbye old friend.

Goodbye old friend.

It’s always sad to see an old friend go and non more so than realising the lovely old weeping ash that’s been a feature of Bath’s Parade Gardens for so many years – has been felled.

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The weeping​ ash stood to one side of the bandstand. You can clearly see it had to be supported.

Bath Newseum follower Catharine Adams drew my attention to it with the following email.

‘Any idea why that big tree in the Parade Gardens got taken out today’s? I guess it wasn’t safe as it had big supports but it was important for shade and just because it was a beautiful tree!’
I went onto Twitter to leave a message for the Parks Department at B&NES – who were quick to reply.
‘The Weeping Ash was dying & its condition deteriorated to such an extent the risk of limb failure was unacceptably high. It’d been retained for many years by tree surgery & props, sadly these were no longer enough.
It will be hugely missed but there is a weeping willow planted to replace it as another weeping Ash would not be suitable due to the Ash Die Back disease.”
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The remains of the Weeping​ Ash and the notice warning of its departure.

There are notices in Parade Gardens that have warned of the tree felling – and indeed – of other trees nearby.
The one by the stump of the now absent weeping ash says:
‘Sadly, this elderly Weeping Ash tree is to be felled. The tree is in a very poor condition and is dying. Unfortunately, it will not recover or improve, so needs to be removed before the risk of limb or stem failure becomes too high.
We understand that this popular tree will be missed and we will be replacing it with a young Weeping Willow which will in time – we hope – become an equally loved feature in Parade Gardens.
Unfortunately, some of the smaller Ash trees nearby have succumbed to Ash die-back (Chelara) and will also need to be removed. These will be replaced with specimens of Acer griseum (Snake-bark maple).”

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A smaller ash – near the bandstand -​ has been removed.

You don’t have to wander far from this point to become aware of another area of felling operations – this time along the riverbank.
Another notice says:
“over the winter we’ll be undertaking a programme of landscaping improvements in Parade Gardens. This will improve the borders along the river, providing a wider range of interesting flowers and grasses and more nectar-rich flowers for bees.
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Tree felling is opening up the view to the river.

In recent years, more of the Spotted laurels in the gardens have also succumbed to disease and we will be removing dead and dying specimens and replacing them with other disease-resistant species.
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Felling along the river edge.

We hope to have the new borders ready for the spring.
Please bear with us whilst works are ongoing. We may need to temporarily restrict access to some areas, and please follow the advice of our teams to help ensure public safety.”
Hope that helps Katharine – and any other Bath Newseum follower who may have noticed the tree felling.
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The location of the Weeping​ Ash – as seen from Terrace Walk.

It’s good to know the Parks Department put up notices but – for the benefit of those just admiring from afar – the odd press release wouldn’t go amiss. Always happy to pass on new – both good and bad – to the Bath public.
Bath and the Suffragettes.

Bath and the Suffragettes.

A special mention for six of my fellow Mayor’s Guides who are helping to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day by giving a special tour around the centre of Bath which will tell people more about the city’s links with the Suffragette Movement.
As this year commemorates the Suffragettes and the fact that it is 100 years since women over 30 got the vote we are concentrating on those suffragettes who are linked to Bath.
The talk is free and will last about 1 and a half hours.
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Meet Ali Barran, Anne Twitchett, Carole Boardman,  Maggie Fallon,  Lesley Castens and Joy Roberts outside the main entrance to the Roman Baths in Abbey Church Yard. at 2.30  on both Thursday, March 8th and Saturday, March 24th
Saving our river from rubbish.

Saving our river from rubbish.

Bath won’t be missing out – when it comes to community action – during next month’s  ‘Great British Spring Clean.’

There’s an invitation for more to join in on a mammoth litter picking exercise – from 2nd to the 4th of March – along the River Avon  through the city. For the first time ever this will include cleaning up the river as well as its banks.

Do check out the poster below for more information.

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Fly-tipper gets heavy fine for despoiling​ Bath beauty spots.

Fly-tipper gets heavy fine for despoiling​ Bath beauty spots.

A 30-year-old man has been fined £6,400 after 12 tonnes of rubbish was dumped in beautiful countryside near Bath, including at an Iron Age Fort and on land belonging to a scout group.

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The actions of Garth Creese, from Crediton Crescent, Bristol, were described by the prosecution as deliberate and led to blatant acts of environmental vandalism in some of the most beautiful and historic areas in the district which had cost innocent landowners in excess of £3,500 to clear up.

Creese, who runs a waste clearance business, pleaded guilty to nine offences, under the Environmental Protection Act, in Rankers Lane, Compton Dando, Keynsham Scout Group land in Chelwood and two incidents at the site of an Iron Age fort in Stantonbury Hill and Stanton Prior. He was fined £1,600 per offence.

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Creese appeared before Bath Magistrates on Monday, February 19th, and was also ordered to pay £450 costs and a victim surcharge of £160.

Bath and North East Somerset Council brought the prosecution following reports of piles of rubbish dumped in the locations between November 24th and December 13th, 2016.

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The court heard that the legislation is designed to ensure those disposing and handling waste take reasonable care to ensure it is only handled by reputable waste handlers and any transfer of waste is accompanied by a Waste Transfer Note,  so that waste is traceable and incidences of fly-tipping reduced.

But the court was told Creese’s unregulated waste clearance business resulted in significant incidences of fly-tipping of builders’ rubbish and household waste including black bagged waste, large household items including a sofa, chairs, a fridge-freezer and miscellaneous items of rubbish.

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Magistrates heard during the investigation that it became clear that Creese showed potential customers an expired Waste Carriers Permit and offered his services at a rate that could never have covered the costs of legitimate disposal.

Speaking after the guilty plea, Councillor Bob Goodman, (Conservative Coombe Down), cabinet member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said: “The investigation took a lot of time but this is an excellent result for the council and its Waste Enforcement Team which I want to thank for its hard work.

“This sends a clear message that we will always prosecute. Fly-tipping is anti-social and in this case a blight on beautiful countryside. We want to remind people that if you employ a waste clearance company please make sure it is a reputable one with up-to-date waste carriers licence.”

 

Local artist makes shortlist for major prize.

Local artist makes shortlist for major prize.

Bath artist Charlotte Sorapure, has been chosen from over 1,000 artists to be shortlisted for a prestigious national art prize worth £15,000 to the winner.
Charlotte is one of 83 artists from across the UK shortlisted for the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2018, the UK’s leading competition for British contemporary representational painting and drawing. Having made the shortlist her work ‘The Letter’ will be exhibited at London’s Mall Galleries from 5–17 March.

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The Letter – painted by Bath-based Charlotte Sorapure.

1,144 artists entered this year’s competition – the highest number in the prize’s 13-year history.
Responding to the news of their shortlisting, Charlotte said: “In an artistic climate that tends to be preoccupied with novelty and gimmickry, the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize is very special, with its commitment to nurturing and supporting the continued development of figurative painting and draughtsmanship. I am very happy to have been included in this years exhibition”
Charlotte has been painting for over twenty-five years. She describes the overriding concerns of her work as being rooted in drawing, composition and colour.
‘The paintings often hint at a poetic awareness, rather than any literal narrative – hopefully emanating an underlying mood or atmosphere. In order to do so, one has to be constantly alert to possibilities in any potential subject; from the corner of the studio or a humble still life, to the pattern and movements of a crowd.
There is a gentle irony, humour and poignancy in the paintings, that life is rarely what it seems. The recognition of these fleeting, incidental and silent moments have the ability to resonate more powerfully, than grander schemes and gestures. Seeing the significant in the insignificant – peering under stones, so to speak’

Trained at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Charlotte is a figurative Artist living and working in Bath. She has exhibited mainly with Messum’s in London and Brian Sinfield Gallery in Burford. Winner of the 2012 Holburne Portrait Prize, she has also exhibited at the Victoria Art Gallery in  Bath as well as more broadly in the UK and abroad. She has produced commissioned Portraits and Murals including a portrait of the war photographer Don McCullin CBE for The Holburne Museum in Bath, which was unveiled in 2015.

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Don McCullin and Charlotte Sorapure – wither side of her portrait.

The Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize for representational art – art that seeks to capture the real world – offers total prize money of £30,000, comprising a first prize of £15,000 and a gold medal, second prize of £4,000 alongside the newly introduced People’s Prize worth £2,000. Young artists aged 25-or-under compete for the Young Artist Award of £4,000.

For further details visit www.lynnpainterstainersprize.org.uk

Too many hotels?

Too many hotels?

Tourism officials in Bath are to reassess the impact of new hotel development in the city – according to an online report from The Caterer magazine – https://www.thecaterer.com/articles/521114/bath-tourism-officials-order-review-of-oversaturated-hotel-market

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It follows protests from operators that the market has become over-saturated.

 

The online report continues:

“Between 2017 and 2019, an additional 500 bedrooms are expected to open, adding to the 1,500 rooms in the city prior to the current plethora of developments.

David James, chief executive of Bath Tourism Plus, said: “We now feel the time is for reflection to assess the impact of these new developments before further additional accommodation is added to the city’s portfolio.

“It also has to be said that the impact of Airbnb was not identified as a factor in the last hotel demand study and Bath has seen a large growth in this new offering – over 800 rooms at the last count.”

Bath has traditionally been one of the strongest regional cities for hotel performance in the UK, with occupancy on Friday and Saturday nights often close to 100%. This has resulted in a plethora of developers being attracted to the city to open new hotels.

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A study on the city’s hotel demand carried out by Bath and North East Somerset Council in 2015 identified a shortage of rooms. However, with the opening last year of the 177-bedroom Apex City of Bath and the launch later this year of the 148-bedroom Z Hotel and 121-bedroom Hotel Indigo, alongside the presence of Airbnb, leading Bath hoteliers now believe the city is close to over saturation.

In the most recent AlixPartners Hotel Bulletin, Bath was the worst performing of 12 cities studied, showing a 4% decline in revpar during Q4 of 2017.

It was announced last week that a number of hoteliers had signed a letter protesting at the proposed development of a 206-bedroom hotel within the former Bath College Allen building development.

Real estate investment, development and asset management company Dominvs Group acquired the college property last year and has applied for planning permission to transform it into a hotel, restaurant, bar and café.

Andrew Brownsword, who owns the Bath Priory; Laurence Beere, managing director of the Queensberry hotel; Ian Taylor, owner of No 15 Great Pulteney; and Jonathan Stapleton, general manager of the Royal Crescent hotel, sent a letter to Bath and North East Somerset Council claiming the market is struggling to cope with the increased number of hotels alongside what it calls the “unregulated growth”of Airbnb.

Beere said: “We have as a sector seen a marked decline in occupancy and consequently in room rate, and overall decline in revenue per available room (revpar) because of the excess supply, and that is before an additional 310 bedrooms open later this year,” said Beere.

“Enough is enough,” added Stapleton. “Already we are at complete oversupply, there’s no way those rooms are needed in the city.”