Welcome back – to the end of the row.

Kennet and Avon Canal towpath users – coming out of the city centre – will no doubt have noticed that the end of the Hampton Row terrace is being restored – after years of dereliction.

Former artistic director of Bath Natural Theatre Company, Ralph Oswick is one person ‘very pleased to see the Hampton Row cottages being renovated at last.’

Ralph writes:

” Must be at least 40 years that they have been left to rot. Originally they were in the path of something called the Beckford Spur which was a long abandoned link-road connected to the dreaded Buchanan Tunnel.

I seem to remember there was one more cottage at the end of the terrace which was almost triangular as it was only inches from the railway line.

There was some sort of campaign  way back in the days of Bath Arts Workshop to show the houses could be made habitable. Bath was a bit keen on the bulldozer in those days. The Workshop dabbled in the re-use of abandoned buildings and support for homeless charities and decided to temporarily squat the end house.

I went along with it but I gave up after one night as every time a train went by the noise and vibration was terrifying!

It was a horrible first view of Bath for rail travellers for many years!

Around that time there was a list going round of potential squats in Bath. Its purpose was, I think, to draw attention in an ironic way to empty properties, especially ones in danger of demolition, rather than a shopping list for squatters.

I posted it  on the window of our charity shop on The Paragon and there was a massive row about it, with certain councillors accusing Bath Arts Workshop of promoting illegal actions, and incidentally of encouraging drug usage.

 It made the front pages, but the list was actually compiled and distributed by the Young Liberals and the councillors had to publish an apology. The next time we applied for council funding, when asked on the application form what we would use the money for, I added on the end of a long list of worthy community activities ‘…and to buy drugs.’ Some of them got the joke.

Shortly after, the shop was being converted into Auntie Margaret’s Cafe and so many people were peering in the window, I put up a small sign that said ‘Sex Shop Opening Here Soon!’ That made the front pages too and there were letters of complaint from residents of The Paragon.

This kind of thing was grist to the mill for the Arts Workshop of course! More of that in the excellent exhibition celebrating the Arts Workshop’s 50thanniversary which your coverage indicates is currently being revived at the Museum of Bath at Work in conjunction with Bath Fringe.”

Thanks Ralph.

1 Comment

  1. Victims of planning blight. But a disgrace that they have been left like that so long – no one reflected that this is the first closeup view of Bath seen by visitors on the train from London! They will not be costly by Bath standards – all the better when there is a shortage of affordable housing here

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