Bath’s only gone and done it again!

I know Paul Simons as the man behind the Cleveland Pools Project and – as Chair of the Board of Trustees – one of the first in the water when this historic and regenerated open air lido was officially unveiled.

Paul Simons after his first dip at Cleveland Pools

But then – last night – at a flame-lit gathering held in the Roman Baths – he popped up again. This time as the retiring Secretary General of the Great Spas of Europe.

Over the last decade and more he has helped bring together Bath and other top European spas into a ‘collective’ that was able to bid and succeed in being inscribed by UNESCO as one of the 11 Great Spas of Europe.

It’s the second such World Heritage inscription that our city has managed to attain. The first granted in 1987 because of our Roman Baths, thermal waters, Georgian architecture, social history and setting.

The Roman Baths.

Covid got in the way of a ceremony to officially hand over the second inscription – awarded in 2021 – but the spa towns have just held their second general assembly in our city and it’s enabled that physical event to happen.

I asked Paul how he was feeling at this point – at the end of such a successful campaign.

I have to say l was a little surprised that no members of the press had turned up to record what was an historic evening for Bath.

However, this ‘blogger’ has done his best to bring you the highlights.

UNESCO Ambassador Laura Davies presents Cllr Kevin Guy, B&NES Leader, with the official Great Spas of Europe inscription

We were honoured to have Her Excellency Laura Davies, the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate for the UK Delegation to UNESCO whose headquarters are based in Paris.

There were also representatives from the seven countries that make up the Great Spas of Europe group.

Ambassador Davies spoke to those who had gathered for the evening reception – before officially handing over the inscription award to the Leader of B&NES, Cllr Kevin Guy.

L to R. Ambassador Laurie Davies; Cllr Kevin Guy; Professor Barry Gilbertson – Chair of Bath’s World Heritage Enhancement Fund – and Tony Crouch, World Heritage Site Manager.

Councillor Guy – the Leader of B&NES – said the event gave the city another opportunity to mark its status as one of the very finest historic spa towers in Europe, whose continuing cultural tradition of bathing and healing had resulted in unique urban forms and landscapes worthy of celebrating and conserving for future generations.

Among the guests. Three local heritage ‘movers and shakers’ L to R Alex Sherman, CEO, Bath Preservation Trust; Robert Campbell, Head of Heritage Services for B&NES; and Tom Boden, General Manager at National Trust Bath

For more information about the Great Spa Towns of Europe, visit

The Mayor and Mayoress of Bath, Cllr and Mrs Rob Appleyard

For more about Bath as a World Heritage Site, visit

The Editor of The Bath Magazine, Emma Clegg and my husband, Darren Willison who teaches art at King Edward’s School in Bath.


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