New NatWest branch for Stall Street.

New NatWest branch for Stall Street.

News at last on where the new NatWest Bath branch is going to be located.

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The old bank premises in Milsom Street which is now being turned into a restaurant.

After moving out of Milsom Street – to make way for the Ivy Bath Brasserie – looks like they are taking over the old Bruton House building in Stall Street with a planning application having gone in for numbers 24 and 25.

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What was Burton House in Stall Street, Soon to be the home of the new NatWest branch if planning permission is given.

A museum without a home?

A museum without a home?

Bath has plenty of museums to celebrate and explore its Roman, Georgian and Victorian pasts but – until quite recently – nothing to reflect its important role as a medical hub.

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The Great Roman Bath – full of the city’s famous thermal water.

The city’s thermal waters have helped create and shape its history, with an emphasis on their health-giving qualities and their role in soothing the minds and bodies of the many who have come – over the centuries – in search of a cure for their ailments.

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Fountain in Laura Place

Their use – whether by Romans or Georgians – has left its mark in archaeological ruins and fine 18th-century architecture – which together has helped Bath gain its World Heritage status.

Both periods are well represented in award-winning museums but the medical side of things has never been singled out for special attention. That is – until quite recently.

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In a much-loved building – which itself played an important role in the city’s social history –  a group of volunteers has established the Bath Medical Museum.

At its core is a remarkable collection of artefacts which tell the history of ‘The Min’. Opened in 1742, it was the first national hospital which took patients from all over the UK. The idea behind its construction was to provide access to treatment in the thermal waters of Bath for the ‘sick poor from Britain and Ireland’.

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Opened in 1742, it was the first national hospital which took patients from all over the UK. The idea behind its construction was to provide access to treatment in the thermal waters of Bath for the ‘sick poor from Britain and Ireland’.

In order to cover the cost of sending patients home when their treatment was finished, providing necessary clothing, or burying them if they died, a sum of money (caution money) had to be deposited with the Registrar on admission.

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At first, the patients were taken to and from the Corporation Baths for treatment. They wore brass badges (a number of which are still in existence at the Hospital) giving their ward and the number of their bed.

These badges were a `ticket of admission’ to the Corporation Baths. They were also to prevent patients entering public houses and coming back the worse for drink. The Inn Keepers were instructed not to serve patients and risked losing their licence if they did.

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Details of some of the patients who passed through the hospital.

 

A book of patients’ records, the brass badges and even a sedan chair to carry patients with gout bandaged legs are amongst the items on display.

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People like Ralph Allen – who gave his quarry stone for free – and John Wood Senior – who designed the hospital – have left their signatures in the hospital’s books.

The museum – run by many volunteers who are still out-patients at what is now the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases – is getting itself charitable trust status and hoping to extend its medical collection – but there is one BIG problem.

The building is now a NHS Trust but its world-renowned facilities are due to move to a new centre to be purpose-built at the Royal United Hospital.

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The proposed new building to be built at the Royal United Hospital site.

This means the old Grade 2* listed building is up for sale and could end up as a hotel, department store, offices or restaurant – leaving the Bath Medical Museum without a home.

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Amongst the volunteers running the medical museum are (L to R) Mel Brooke, Alyson Leeds, and Dr Roberta Anderson.

Bath Newseum spoke to the museum’s Project Director, Dr Roberta Anderson, and asked her why she thought the museum was so important.

 

The property is being marketed by GVA and their Bristol-based Senior Regional Director, Gordon Isgrove, told me:

‘We are currently in the middle of the tendering exercise so there is not a huge amount I can say. I can confirm that we moved the tender deadline out a little from the original set date (which was 26th April) and we received a number of tenders on the 11th May.

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As you would expect for such a prime property, interest was strong and we are reviewing a number of the offers proposals and hope to be in a position to progress the sale forward once we have completed our review over the next 6 weeks.

In relation to price, there was no formal guide price and I can’t comment given the commercially sensitive stage we are at.’

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The facade of the original building. An extension was added in 1860.

Meanwhile, Howard Jones, Strategic Estates Advisor for the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, said:

 “We are working with our appointed agents on the sale of the RNHRD and are confident that the outcome will be positive, allowing us to further improve services we will provide for patients at the new RNHRD and Therapies Centre at the RUH.

We continue to work with volunteers who have set up the Bath Medical Museum charity, and are loaning them artefacts for ongoing display in the museum’s eventual new home.’

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Opening days and times.

Where that new home will be is anyone’s guess. I have heard other museums have been to inspect what The Min has to offer. Could this be a real Museum of Bath at last? One that could incorporate several individual museums under one roof?

Money would – no doubt – be the deciding factor.

You can check out Bath’s Medical Museum via www.bathmedicalmuseum.org or – because there are server issues at the moment – try https://visitbath.co.uk/things-to-do/bath-medical-museum-p2118253

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, what a night!

Oh, what a night!

The fine and dry weather certainly helped, but it was the sheer talent and enthusiasm of those taking part in this year’s free Bath Festival  ‘Jump In – Party in the City’  that got the opening night celebrations off to such a great start.

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Crowds gather in Milsom Street – renamed Carnival Street for last night’s free party in the street.

The ten day event is always launched by holding Bath’s biggest free party with hundreds of  musical and theatrical performances at venues across the city. Involving everything from the ‘chapel’ at the Gainsborough Spa Hotel to the city’s stage on wheels – The Bath Theatre Bus!

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Got to be Bath’s smallest theatre venue.

Thirty six venues in total – and l can only talk about the events my partner and l managed to catch – but congratulations all round to those who gave their time and talents for free.

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The preview crowd party for this year’s annual exhibition by Bath Society of Artists.

We started with the opening party for this year’s 112th annual exhibition by Bath Society of Artists at the Victoria Art Gallery. That’s open to the public today – through to July 15th.

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44AD’s Open Studios event

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Broose – our gallery entertainer.

Then across to Abbey Green and into 44AD – a well-known art gallery holding an open week-end and music from a Texan musician called Broose.

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Looking in from outside the Abbey’s West Door.

Great to see the large wooden doors of Bath Abbey’s West Front wide open and people overflowing from a crowded nave inside. The church was hosting seven different musical events – right through to the unaccompanied ‘choral compline’ – sung by the Abbey girl’s and men’s choir which ended proceedings at 10pm.

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Chapel entertainment at The Gainsborough.

Then across to the 5 star Gainsborough Spa Hotel – a listed building that started life as the city’s general hospital – and musical events in what was the infirmary’s former chapel. Watched and listened to close-harmony group The Noteables while munching on complimentary olives and Japanese crackers.

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Bath Natural Theatre at play.

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What a whopper.

Heading up Milsom Street – renamed Carnival Street for the evening – and stopping to enjoy the antics of Bath’s much loved Natural Theatre Company.

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We’ve lost our aeroplane?

Spot the life savers, trawler men and flight attendants giving their pavement performances.

Bath Carnival held a costume making workshop and then celebrated their achievements.

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Music in Queen Square

Queen Square found Moles Club hosting a live music event and – while there appeared to be some sort of 200 people limit on the numbers allowed into the fenced inner lawns, a long queue that had formed outside was eventually let in.

We were heading for the lawns in front of the Royal Crescent to see a special projection on the face of No 1 – home of Bath Preservation Trust. Yesterday – May 19th – was the 250th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone.

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Getting the projector ready outside No 1 Royal Crescent

Not quite dark enough to see the ‘Words On Stone’  poetry projection when we passed through – but l am sure it became more impressive as darkness fell.

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One of the haikus

Poet Nick Compton – too his inspiration from Japanese haiku to produce 7 seventeen syllable poems inspired by Royal Crescent onto the building.

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Poet Nick Compton gets to see his name in lights. That’s Dr Amy Frost from Bath Preservation Trust on his left

Lots more events on Sunday, May 21st to celebrate the iconic Crescent’s anniversary. See http://no1royalcrescent.org.uk/events/

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Woods.

Then a slow walk home – past the celebrations in Alfred Street – where Woods Restaurant were hosting an Australian punk band called The Meanies and the Bath Theatre Bus was parked up and full for even more mini-staged musical activity.

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The Meanies in action!

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Inside the Bath Theatre Bus

And so to bed. Thanks entertainers and do check out http://bathfestivals.org.uk/ for more information about forthcoming events.

Record breaking show.

Record breaking show.

Bath Society of Artist’s  112th annual exhibition has opened at the Victoria Art Gallery with a record number of pieces of work on display.

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It’s always a colourful display of local talent and attracts entries of all ages.

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Bath Newseum caught up with Society Chairman, Susanna Lisle,  for a quick chat in a crowded, and very noisy, gallery!

The exhibition opens from today – Saturday, May 20th, through to Saturday, July 15th. The gallery is open from Monday to Sunday from 10.30 am to 5 pm. Admission is £4 but there are concessions. It is free to the under 21’s and to holders of local resident’s Discovery cards.

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Entry to the permanent collection at the Victoria Art Gallery is also free.

 

 

Making room – in the Saw Close – for people.

Making room – in the Saw Close – for people.

The second stage in the redevelopment of  The Saw Close in Bath is about to get underway with B&NES preparing to start work on improving  the ‘street environment.’

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The area included in the Council’s remodelling of the public space.

The first stage is well underway with the construction of an hotel, casino and restaurants in a development that incorporates part of the old – and listed – Palace Theatre.

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The old Palace Theatre tower is being revealed again!

The scaffolding is starting to come down at the front of the landmark theatre tower which has been both retained and renovated.

Now the Council will be starting the first stage of highway works in Saw Close on Monday 22 May. The project seeks to re-establish Saw Close as a key public space with a greater focus on cyclist and pedestrian needs.

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A proposed plan showing the reduced space for vehicular traffic.

Between May 2017 and February 2018 we will be carrying out construction in phases within the highway boundary, including footways.

The street environment will be improved with materials appropriate to the historic nature of Bath, including new street furniture such as public seating and cycle parking.

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How planners imagine the re-vamped Saw Close will look.

B&NES says all businesses – including the Theatre Royal – will be accessible during the works however some road closures will be necessary at times with diversions in place.

More information regarding the project can be found at www.bathnes.gov.uk/sawclose

 

Centre-stage at the market for Abbey Green tree.

Centre-stage at the market for Abbey Green tree.

Sunday, May 21st marks the start of a regular monthly Sunday market in Bath’s Abbey Green.

And taking pride of place will be the ancient giant Plane tree in its centre which has been given a new look.

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The Plane tree is thought to be one of the oldest architecturally planted trees in the world – arriving as a sapling in 1793.

B&NES has finally conceded that planting new turf around its base every year was a waste of money as the grass was always dead by the time summer was over.

Instead they are trying something a bit different.

A spokesperson told Bath Newseum:

‘The Council has been working with Bath Tourism Plus and the Bath Business Improvement District (BID) to find a solution that is more appealing, durable and authentic.
 
The soil surface has been carefully removed using an air spade to prevent damage to the tree and will be replaced by a self-binding gravel, a type of surface used historically.’
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Traders are pleased to see the job has been completed in time for Sunday’s inaugural market.

I spoke to one of them. Laurence Swan owns both the Georgian Tea Rooms and the Bath Bun Tea Rooms and is a Director of Bath BID.

The Independent Bath Market  in Abbey Green will feature up to 25 stalls. A selection of  small independent family businesses, makers, growers, crafters, artisans and producers from the local area.

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Silvana de Soissons of The Foodie Bugle

The monthly market is the brainchild of Silvana de Soissons of The Foodie Bugle   in Abbey Green.

Roman removal men!

Roman removal men!

When it comes to calling in the removal men – there is one particular job in Bath that really takes the cake.

Cliveden Conservation were contacted by B&NES to help the Roman Baths to carefully empty their subterranean store below York Street of hundreds of large fragments of Roman Masonry.

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The removal operation is underway in passages lying beneath the road surface of York Street

This is in order to enable repairs to be carried out to strengthen the structure supporting the York Street carriageway which has been assessed as having inherent weaknesses.

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The specially created gangway to enable the blocks of masonry to be taken out across the footings of two original Roman walls.

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Part of the original roof above the Great Bath.

It’s an operation that involves lifting and moving stones weighing up to ¾ of a tonne – 750kgs – and moving them across a specially-created scaffold pathway – laid across the top of important Roman remains –  then up through a small staircase and out of the side Swallow Street access to the Baths complex.

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Some of the pieces of masonry that have to be moved.

The material is being stored at the Council’s Pixash Lane Archaeological Depot in Keynsham until the work is done.

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The stored material has been taken to the Pixash Lane Depot in Keynsham.

The area being cleared will eventually form part of the Archway Project – an ambitious undertaking, with Heritage Lottery funding, which will create  new Learning and World Heritage Centres in nearby buildings – and open up archaeological areas of the Roman complex not previously seen by the wider public.

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A model showing the proposed conversion of the old laundry in to a Learner Centre and World Heritage Centre.

I asked Andy Hebden from Cliveden Conservation to explain exactly what they were doing.