Preservation Trust speaks up for city’s wartime relic

It may be too late now – as the date for objecting has passed – but Bath Preservation Trust has decided to make its views known regarding the Council’s planning application to demolish the Parkside Children’s Centre to make way for extra parking at the Charlotte Street site.

In a letter to the Planning Department a BPT spokesperson says:

“The Trust has followed the recent discussions about the proposed loss of Parkside with interest, and whilst we feel that the preservation of the physical evidence of social history is a little outside our remit, we wish to provide a comment on the scheme. 

We sympathise with those who are concerned regarding the potential loss of the building. We acknowledge that the building itself has no architectural merit, however it is a surviving purpose-built British Restaurant and the following that, a ‘civic restaurant’ as legislated by the post-war Labour government, and as such could well have national significance for its associative and illustrative historical, evidential and communal value. 

A search on the Historic England listings register does not bring up any ‘British Restaurant’ buildings. The fact the building was purpose built is interesting and it may be that this is a rare survival of such a building (as not many were built), and if it is, it could give evidential information about this particular wartime welfare building initiative. 

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At the very least, the physical remnants of the building anchor the historical narrative; the loss of the building would undoubtedly impact negatively on the longevity of communal memory and interpretation about the wartime experience in Bath. The building was important to Bath during a time of suffering and evidences shared communal experiences that have not and will not be experienced since.

The Labour Exchange building with its pockmarked shrapnel scars is an acknowledged important physical remnant of the Bath Blitz, and as such has been afforded due protection. Therefore the logic may follow that another rare physical survival of wartime history in Bath should not be swept away for car parking without a meaningful debate on its local importance and potential national heritage value and whether there is sufficient justification under national and local policy for the building to be retained, adapted and re-used to underpin the historical story. “

See also: ‘No hope for Children’s Centre?’