Building a healthier city.

As we face the public health challenge of Covid-19, Bath Record Office: Archives and Local Studies is offering an opportunity to look back on past improvements to the city’s public health with a series of free talks on Zoom. 

The talks will discuss historic improvements to the city ranging from providing running water and creating safer streets to closing “filthy” houses and removing rubbish.

A scene Bath’s first Medical Officer of Health might have encountered (image from the Museum of Bath at Work)

Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “These free talks are a great opportunity for local people to find about the history of public health in Bath. At the moment we are all aware of the importance of creating a safe environment for people to live and work in and visit, and it is interesting to see how this issue was dealt with in the past.”  

The Building a Healthier City project
Wednesday 4 November, 1.10pm-1.45pm

The Building a Healthier City project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is preserving and making available the city’s public health records, and the first talk will be given by the project team. Staff have made some fascinating discoveries as they catalogue and conserve records about the city’s street improvements, water supply and sewerage. They include plans for Bath’s new Pump Room and streetscape of the 1700s, as well as records of the city’s night watch and lamp lighters.   

The Project Conservator will explain her work to repair and care for documents. 

250 years of Bath’s water supply, from the Georgian era to modern day
Wednesday 11 November, 1.10pm-1.45pm

Providing the city with fresh drinking water is the focus of the second talk by Julian Welbank, Water Consultant for Wessex Water. The talk will cover the development of the water supply infrastructure and organisation in Bath over this period, whilst also making reference to the advances nationally that Bath was responding to. 

Filthy, verminous and unfit for habitation: Dr Charles Barter, Bath’s first Medical Officer of Health
Wednesday 18 November, 1.10pm-1.45pm

The final talk in the series will be given by Stuart Burroughs of the Museum of Bath at Work. Dr Charles Barter was Bath’s first Medical Officer of Health, serving from 1866 to 1876. Amid some controversy, he laid foundations for appropriate public health provision, and helped promote the city as a healthy destination.  

The talks were originally planned to take place in the Guildhall in June, but due to Covid-19 will now be held via Zoom.  Please contact Bath Record Office to book a place: / 01225 477421 /