Elsewhere on this page l was suggesting ‘Newark’ as the name for the new pedestrian bridge across the River Avon along from Churchill Bridge.
It’s part of the commercial Quays development in that area and joins up with what used to be the Stothert and Pitt Newark Works!
I thought it wouldn’t be long before Mr Ralph Oswick had something to say on the subject. This ex Artistic Director of Bath Natural Theatre Company has made his views known many times on Bath Newseum – and often with more than a touch of humour.
Over to you Ralph:
My idea is to name the bridge after someone who reflects Bath’s glorious industrial heritage rather than the usual Georgian/Regency suspects. I swear if they call it Jane Austen Bridge I will move to Manchester. And Mr Beau Nash you have your cinema and your pump Room statue. Back off!
So, my proposal is to raise the local profile of the celebrated architect of the Newark Works building, Thomas Fuller. The historic works will be the last vestige of the world-famous Stothert and Pitt crane factory that once thrived on the site. Rather like Dredge’s Victoria Bridge downstream, some Philistine powers-that-be were determined to demolish it until its architectural significance was revealed. After all, it’s just a grubby shed with a bit of twiddly carving on the façade. But of course, it is far more than that!
Thomas Fuller was born in Bath in 1823, where his father was a carriage builder. As well as the Newark building, which represents the fledgling work of an illustrious career, he co-designed the delightful five-sided chapel in Smallcombe cemetery and more importantly created the former town hall in Bradford-on-Avon. This latter is an extraordinary Italianate almost Disneyesque structure which has in its time housed a cinema, a police station, a bank and is now the town’s Catholic Church.
What is amazing is that Fuller moved to Canada and became that country’s Chief Dominion Architect. His most famous work is the incredibly elaborate and spectacular Parliament Building in Ottawa, currently, like our Houses of Parliament, undergoing a decade-long restoration. Really you could say that Thomas Fuller, practically a household name in Canada, is that country’s Pugin.
What’s more, Fuller’s son took after dad and also became Chief Dominion Architect, and to top it all, his grandson is in charge of the current multi-billion dollar rebuild of the Parliament complex, including a temporary debating chamber in a glass-roofed space in the style of the British Museum courtyard. In addition to this world-renowned edifice, on which you can actually see traces of ideas spawned on the Bradford building, Fuller designed grand gothic central post offices for practically every major city in Canada, several schools and even a prison. It seems the fellow could churn out the equivalent of Big Ben at the drop of a hat, thus his pinnacled clock towers pierce the sky countrywide!
Most interesting to me, however, being an aficionado of all things Caribbean, Thomas Fuller designed the Anglican cathedral on the island of Antigua. The round windows on that crumbling gothic pile directly resemble the one huge circular window on the Lower Bristol Road façade of our very own Newark Works!
So, who better to commemorate in the form of the new bridge than this incredibly imaginative, highly creative and as yet rather overlooked Bath worthy?
PS. Having given this the once over, Ralph comes back with his reaction and to that of other suggestions that have been made as far as a name for the new bridge is concerned.
‘Thanks for posting my bit. Looks great with pics.
Although MBB is handily alliterative, I don’t think Mary Berry has contributed much to the industrial heritage of our city. Besides, she gets enough attention. Perhaps name the approach path The Mary Berry Cakewalk.‘