The work to re-lay the floor of Bath Abbey is coming to an end as the multi-million pound Footprint Project inches ever closer to completion.
Despite the pandemic and necessary precautions construction has continued apace.
The surface is comprised of hundreds of ledger stones – memorial tablets to those who are buried beneath. They had to come up – section by section – as the ground beneath had to be stabilised to prevent areas collapsing.
This has been a major part of a lengthy scheme which has also seen underfloor heating installed – which will use energy from the city’s hot springs – and major works elsewhere to improve facilities for Abbey personnel and the thousands of people who visit this medieval church every year.
Fund-raising remains an important activity but those who have donated to the scheme so far have received a newsletter bringing them ups to date on what is happening.
Bath Newseum has been allowed to see and use that material so the people of Bath can check out progress too!
So – here we go!
The Abbey Floor: Restoring and Re-Laying the Historic Ledgerstones
The intricate work of re-laying the Abbey’s historic ledgerstones continues throughout the Abbey. The South section of the Nave floor is now fully laid, pointed and cleaned.
After an 8-week delay to resolve urgent and unexpected structural issues with the Lady Waller Tomb, work in the South Transept has resumed, where the remaining electrical work and radiator installation will be completed, prior to the re-laying of the ledgerstones with the final ledgerstone expected to be re-laid next week. (w/c 18 Jan 2021).
The Abbey Font, located by the South West Door, is being sensitively reconstructed.
Hoarding Boards Come Down: A Clear Abbey Floor from end of February
We are planning to remove Footprint’s interpretive hoarding boards from inside the Abbey in early February and we aim to have a clear floor throughout the Abbey later that same month. The Abbey Shop and Visitor Reception will remain in place, with some adaptation work to allow us to remove the hoarding boards.
A New Eco-Friendly Heating System for the Abbey
The innovative underfloor heating pipework has now been fully laid, representing an exciting key milestone in the Footprint Project and marking the completion of the internal heating installation work.
We have started the commissioning of the heating system this month (January). Whilst the new underfloor heating pipes have now been fitted, the Abbey’s new heating system, which utilises the spring waters from the Great Roman Drain, will not be fully active until Spring 2021.
We are working with Bath & North East Somerset Council on the details of the access and installation of this visionary new system.
The new trench radiators which sit beneath the original cast-iron grates will be the first element of the new heating system to be commissioned, providing space heating throughout the Abbey from next month (February).
The Abbey Vaults: New Learning Space
The Abbey’s Vaults, which house the new Learning Space, are being prepared for installation of the new stone flooring.
These historic vaults have been fully opened up and the stonework arches cleaned. There are two large windows being installed to enclose the vaults whilst maintaining good natural light into these basement levels.
The Abbey’s Jackson Extension: Discovery Centre and Abbey Shop
The new steel mezzanine structure, which forms the floor of the new Abbey Shop, has now been fully installed in the Abbey’s Jackson Extension. The installation of this mezzanine structure provides level access between the Abbey and the shop, which includes a lift to the basement vaults facilities.
This new floor has allowed us to divide the Jackson Extension over two levels – the Abbey Shop at street level, and the new Discovery Centre at basement level. Fitting out of the new Abbey Shop and Discovery Centre is due to begin in the Spring.
Kingston Buildings: The New Song School and Abbey Offices
Work in the Song School is ongoing and we are progressing well with fitting out these exciting new spaces ready for when Covid-restrictions are ready for us to welcome back the Abbey Choirs, Music Department and visiting musicians.
Installation of the oak wall-panelling and flooring is being completed throughout the Choir Practice Rooms in the new Song School.
In the corridor in the new Song School, the masonry repairs are now complete and rooflights are now installed, allowing a good supply of natural light. The floor structure is in place, ready to receive the beautiful new oak flooring.
In other exciting updates for Kingston Buildings, the new offices are largely completed. There have been some delays due to complications over the commissioning of the heating system, but we hope to resolve these to allow occupation of the building in early 2021.
The damp-proofing works of the stone paving and the laying is now close to completion in the pedestrian route between Kingston Parade and Orange Grove. The paving in front of Kingston Parade, has been re-laid to include new pavement lights through to the Song School corridor below.
The Footprint Vision for Our Community
The Footprint vision has become even more necessary in these challenging times we are all facing.
Bath Abbey – re-imagined through Footprint – will embrace everyone within the inspirational Abbey Family, be they local, national or international, extending a warm welcome to all and an invitation to engage with exciting education opportunities and accessible learning spaces, encounters with dynamic interpretations of the Abbey’s rich heritage, stimulating opportunities to volunteer, and a commitment to environmental innovation and stewardship – all taking place within a vibrant hub for Christian worship and mission.
Footprint is transforming Bath Abbey, and a transformed Bath Abbey is vital for the renewed future of our community.
Thank you for your support of this visionary project.”