Help a small museum tell a big Bath story!

© Google Street View

I have been dipping into the web page of a more modest – rather out-of-the-way – local museum with a big, big story to tell about where the building material of Georgian Bath actually came from.

Get yourself up on the skyline hills above this city and take in its architecture. Then imagine all that stone gathered up into a pile. That massive volume of natural material came from under the ground surrounding this place.

Sawn out of the bedrock in an underground landscape created through the sweat and toil of the men who laboured in the mines beneath Bath.

Have l got your attention? Good! The Museum of Bath Stone is located in the heart of Combe Down – a district with a lasting association with this subterranean industrial history. It is currently on the lookout for local people to help it tell their community’s proud story of the role it p[layed in the building of Bath.

I have taken the following information from their website.

“The Museum of Bath Stone is delighted to announce its successful application to the ‘Small Grants’ scheme awarded by South West Museum Development and supported by Art Fund. £5,600 is being awarded to launch a brand-new community digitisation project in Combe Down, Bath running from November 2022 to January 2023.

Under the priority of Collections Development within the Small Grants scheme, the funding awarded has enabled the Museum of Bath Stone to digitise a collection of valuable tapes recording the underground landscape of Combe Down. Project volunteers from the local community will be invited to describe archival films documenting the former bath stone quarries and work with the museum’s existing team to create the foundations for a brand-new comprehensive and sophisticated collection catalogue.

The funding awarded has saved unique material in need of immediate professional services to ensure the content is not lost for future generations and, is allowing the museum to welcome the local community into their organisation to complete the first available volunteering opportunities available since the beginning of the pandemic.

During the Combe Down Stone Mines Stabilisation Project, a team of archaeologists were employed to record evidence of human activity throughout the extensive network of underground bath stone quarries and, preserve the archaeological record beneath the village of Combe Down, prior to the infilling necessary to preserve life and property above the surface.

BAFTA nominated filmmaker and photographer, Rob Franklin supported archaeological investigations and the complex task of detailing their finds, with the creation of a comprehensive sets of visual record of the Combe Down Stone Mines.

© Rob Franklin

Rob Franklin was prescribed the task of recording the areas of “High-Grade Archaeological Importance”. This included the earliest workings, dating back to the Georgian era and the days of Ralph Allen, when impressive examples of Georgian architecture such as the Royal Crescent and the Circus appeared. These buildings began to shape the city as we recognise it today and contribute a major factor to the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

In 2021, connections were made to Rob Franklin and the renowned videographer donated 56 tapes in various obsolete formats to the Museum of Bath Stone. Since this generous donation, the museum’s team have been unable to access the content contained within, due to a significant investment needed for professional digitisation services required to transform the tapes into a digital format, as well as the additional funds needed for digital preservation measures to hold this collection safe in perpetuity for future generations.

We are delighted to be working with Oxford Duplication Centre on the digitisation of this collection and, thank them for their assistance, expertise and exceptional professionalism.

Quoted from the grant application submitted by the museum’s Chief Executive:

“Volunteers will be presented with a rare opportunity to transcribe content, record their observations and support the development of museum’s core collection. Priority will be given to individuals applying from the Combe Down and Fox Hill communities. The placement will be accessible to all residents and, adjustments required to support wider inclusion will be made in every possible instance.”

The museum encourages all residents to apply and details of these unique volunteering opportunities will be announced shortly. We are searching for approximately 20 individuals to participate in this project and welcome anybody interested in discovering Combe Down’s fascinating industrial past and contributing towards the museum’s development to register today.

The Museum of Bath Stone offers its more sincere gratitude towards the South West Museum Development and Art Fund for making these changes and developments possible.”

Interested in helping?

To register, email the museum’s team on with your:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Training session date preference: 2nd November, 9th November or virtual
  • Any accessibility requirements you have

Registration for the project closes at midnight, Monday 24th October 2022.

Volunteers will receive a confirmation email of their place on the project and residents applying from the Combe Down and Fox Hill communities will automatically receive priority. Please contact us if you have not received your confirmation email within 7 days.

The Museum of Bath Stone is temporarily closed to the general public while work is being done to enhance the visitor experience. It remains open for private hire and, is accessible to visitors by prior arrangement.

Please note, it will also open between 10am and 4pm, Sunday 23rd October for B&NES Museums Week.

Visit our Facebook page
Visit our twitter page