Two wins for Bath Heritage

The conservation and restoration work that’s been done on Bath’s of historic incised and/or painted street signs across the city has been recognised in The Georgian Group Architectural Awards 2019.

It’s shared the architectural award for Streetscape initiatives with another great city project – the Great Pulteney Estate Overthrow Lighting programme, where the lanterns and overthrows of houses in Great Pulteney Street are being reinstated.

That project was also part-funded by the Bath World Heritage Enhancement Fund, and supported by the Council and BPT (and local residents), so it’s been a win for Bath both ways!

Repairing and reinstating historic street signs in Bath began in 2010, and soon became an on-going programme, organised and funded by the Bath World Heritage Enhancement Fund, a partnership between The City of Bath UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES) and Bath Preservation Trust (BPT).

By the end of 2018, in the 50th anniversary of the Bath city-wide conservation area, fifty-two street signs had been completed; more are planned.

The City’s World Heritage Chairman, Professor Barry Gilbertson explained:

“Our project restores the chisel-marks of the architects and builders of the 18th  Century who understood the importance of good signage. The street signs are generally at first floor level – not so much for pedestrians, but for carriage-drivers, sitting up at that level, with horse reins in hand, without the benefit of any street lighting. The elegance and regularity of design adds further uniformity to Bath’s myriad of Georgian facades.”

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The work entails sensitive cleaning of the signs, repairs with lime mortar and Bath stone, re-carving of worn or missing lettering, and re-painting the incised lettering if previously painted. Signs that are not incised but simply painted on to the wall are re-painted in the existing style, using Keim mineral paints to match the existing colours.

BPT’s Ms Ainslie Ensom, Project Manager and Administrator for the World Heritage Enhancement Fund, says:

“We work with some fantastic and highly specialised craftsmen who bring these historic signs back to life. Independent experts Iain Cotton and Mark Holland work on the incised signs, some of which are Grade I listed, carefully preserving the existing original letters, and meticulously matching lime mortars and new Bath stone for sensitive repair. Brian Barclay of the Bath branch of Cliveden Conservation is a master at cleaning and repainting the painted signs, matching heritage colours and copying historic fonts. Their work is on view to everyone who chooses to look up rather than down at their map or smartphone!”

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B&NES’s Tony Crouch, Bath’s World Heritage Manager, says:

“The impact this project is having on the World Heritage Site city of Bath is remarkable and we’re absolutely delighted to have been nominated for an award from The Georgian Group. Not only do the signs now stand out and look perfect, they are being used again by drivers, pedestrians and visitor guides.