The Roman Baths finally opened its doors today, having been closed since last December due to government Covid lockdown restrictions.
The very first visitors of the day were Johan and Sue Jenkins, from Riverside, Bath, who were met by Bath & North East Somerset Council leader, Councillor Kevin Guy and Roman Bath’s staff.
Councillor Guy said: “Re-opening the Roman Baths is a big step forward in our recovery as we ease out of lockdown and I was absolutely delighted to greet Sue and John.
“The balance is now shifting thanks to the rollout of vaccines and testing. So our priorities are to support the recovery of our High Streets and local businesses in a sustainable way. The safe reopening of the Roman Baths, as well as the Fashion Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery, will be a huge boost to businesses in the city and we look forward to welcoming visitors back to Bath & North East Somerset.”
Sue Jenkins, 65, said: “We moved to Bath a year ago from Lacock in Wiltshire and have spent this last lockdown walking past the Roman Baths most days wishing we could come inside and look around. The last time I was here I was aged 18. It has been great to be able at last to revisit the Roman Baths.
John, 68, added: “We have also got our tickets for the Fashion Museum and The Victoria Art Gallery and are really looking forward to being able to explore them too. The Roman Baths was always a place we wanted to visit since moving to the city last year. We feel really safe visiting the Baths with all the measures that have been put in place and we enjoyed our warm welcome.”
Pre-booking for the Roman Baths opened in mid-March and has proved popular with more than 7,600 tickets booked so far.
The Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery – also run by Bath & North East Somerset Council – will reopen tomorrow (Tuesday 18 May) after being closed for more than a year due to the pandemic.
The Fashion Museum will open with a stunning new exhibition called Shoephoria!, featuring more than 350 pairs of boots and shoes, many drawn from the Museum’s world-class collection, alongside ‘star’ shoes borrowed for the exhibition.
The Victoria Art Gallery will host a major new exhibition by celebrated British painter Kurt Jackson, whose passion for nature and commitment to the environment are central to his work. The exhibition, Kurt Jackson: Biodiversity, will display works seen for the first time, highlighting important issues around biodiversity.
Safety measures are in place at all three venues to protect visitors and staff this means reduced capacity and one-way systems have been introduced, along with increased cleaning and screens at ticket desks. Visitors are required to wear a face covering unless exempt.
All visitors must book online in advance.
Admission is free for residents of Bath and North East Somerset, with a Discovery Card or other proof of residence. Free tickets must be booked online in advance. For more details visit www.romanbaths.co.uk/residents.
Following on from his greeting the public at the newly re-oepened Roman Baths, Cllr Guy was taken around the corner into York Street to view the new World Heritage and Clore Learning Centres that are being fashioned from an old Victorian Laundry.
This multi-million, HLF supported, scheme will finally allow the city to explain why it is worthy of a World Heritage designation – granted to it by UNESCO in 1987 – and also offer improved facilities for schoolchildren visiting the Roman Baths.
An underground connection will also open up new areas of the ancient baths to visitors.
Work on fitting out is due to finish in time for a late summer – early autumn opening.