‘Mr Heritage’ steps down

For 41 years, Stephen Bird has been based in the city centre – surrounded by the crowds of tourists he has worked hard – over four decades – to encourage to come and view Bath’s Roman and Georgian legacies.

Not surprisingly, he was awarded the MBE in 2018 for his services to museums, heritage and tourism.

A busy day at the Roman Baths

Now – with his latest culture-led project due to open shortly – Stephen has decided to step down and let a new man take over the running of ‘Heritage Services.’

Library shot of the new World Heritage and Clore Learning Centres under construction.

The soon-to-open Clore Learning and World Heritage Centres – developed out of the old laundry in York Street – means he can leave a lasting legacy.

We plumped for a quieter, rural spot to meet for a chat to talk over some of the highs and lows of his distinguished career.

Stephen with the Queen and Prince Philip at the Roman Baths in 2002. That’s Barbara Beavan – who was the longest serving guide at the time – talking to Her Majesty.

One which found him dealing with everything from a visit by the Queen, to world-famous opera singers and collapsing ceilings in the Assembly Rooms.

Stephen is certainly no stranger to walking. In 2018 he did a sponsored trek of 105 miles – and visited two other World Heritage sites – to raise money for the new Clore Learning and World Heritage Centres.

Stephen at Stonehenge

The World Heritage Centre which will be free to visit, will be dedicated to explaining and interpreting the World Heritage site – which has also received another World Heritage inscription as one of the Great Spa Towns of Europe – and is part of the wider Archway Project involving the conversion of former Victorian spa buildings in Swallow Street and York Street, next to the Roman Baths.

From his personal scrapbook – a few more photographic memories. He climbed Kilimanjaro in 2002 and 2004 to raise funds for Julian House.

Here he is pictured at the summit at Uhuru in 2004.

Another memory pictures him with the Director of the Kremlin Museums, Elena Gagarina, at the Victoria Art Gallery.

The Victoria Art Gallery is visited by the Kremlin Museum delegation. April 2013. Photographer Freia Turland

Ms Gagarina is the daughter of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin – the first man in space.

Finally, and to end with a smile, Stephen is pictured with Susie Kennedy, the UK’s top Marilyn Monroe lookalike, at the opening of an exhibition of the work of US designer William Travilla at the Assembly Rooms in 2008.

Leaving such a highly-stressed, economically & culturally important job behind him, it has to be said of Stephen – ‘Some Like It Hot!’

1 Comment

  1. Don’t know you personally , but as I’m nearly 50! And100% Bathonian ! I’m aware of you. And after 41 years!! At least you remember the REAL bath ! and everything since , not dumped on the city! to climb up the political ladder or voted in by temporary resident’s !! who will move on once qualified / finish studies!

    Enjoy your retirement Sir

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