Don’t move the library.

Don’t move the library.

The following was sent by email from a ‘BRSLI member’

‘The Bath Central Library is under threat of closure, with just a part of the service being still available, at Manvers Street.


Possible view of the new library set up.

This will mean not just the loss of a library in which to sit and read (the reading room will go), but the loss of a space for Bath residents living on the North side (BA1) in which they are able to browse and look at books physically since the shelf space will also be drastically reduced.

It is up to the residents of Bath to fight for their library and have it stay in its current central and accessible place, so please leave your comments on the feedback forms available in the library.’

Bath’s new hotel opens for business

Bath’s new hotel opens for business

The new Apex City of Bath Hotel has had what you might call a ‘soft opening’ with forty odd rooms now taking paying guests.


The signage going up on the Apex City of Bath Hotel

The reception and downstair bar areas are also in business. I am told facilities like the gym and pool will be coming on line in a month or so.


A temporary entrance to the City of Bath Apex Hotel.

Apex said the hotel would open in August and are true to their word. Work continues around guests but doesn’t seem to be interfering with their stay.


An interior view inside the newly opened hotel.

The hotel will be Bath’s largest hotel both in terms of conference and events spaces and number of bedrooms.

The hotel’s conference room will hold up to 400 delegates which will be the largest in Bath and the four-star hotel itself will have 177 contemporary bedrooms including family rooms and suites, some of which include balconies.

Good to see also that the Highways Department has painted in the zebra crossing outside the Odeon complex. The whole thing was getting illegible.


The crossing before re-painting.


The crossing after a new coat of paint!

Roadworks around the Saw Close area – which is being re-modelled – have revealed some of the original stone setts under the tarmac in Upper Borough Walls.


Roadworks have uncovered the underlying stone setts.

Talking of stone setts – our proud symbol of World Heritage Status – outside the side entrance to the Pump Room – could do with some attention. Not exactly the best way of promoting the city’s standing as a major tourist centre.


The UNESCO symbol for a site of World Heritage status – with missing stone setts.


A closer look at missing stones.


Yet another missing stone.

Coming home along the canal l noticed workmen are starting to take down the lighting that was installed in one of the long tunnels at one end of the Sydney Gardens stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal.


Workmen starting to remove the lighting installed in the tunnel under Cleveland House.

B&NES did not agree with the developer of the property above – Cleveland House –  that the installation was a good idea and have obviously refused retrospective planning permission.

Check out the story about the tunnel and the lights elsewhere on the site. Just enter ‘Cleveland House’ into the ‘search’ box.

Raising a glass to Thomas.

Raising a glass to Thomas.

Exactly what was quenching the thirst of the people of Bath in the summer of  1856.   Turns out beverages sold by Thomas Steele (1805-1859) – a chemist at 6 Milsom Street in the city were hitting the right spot 160 years ago. Flavours that included gooseberry and mulberry.

This little snippet of social history comes via Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project – a multi-million pound scheme of works to make the Abbey floor safe and improve facilities in the church.

As part of the work volunteers are researching the hundreds of historic memorial stones in the building which will have to be lifted to allow the structural work to take place.


Thomas Steele’s memorial stone.

Thanks to one of them, it’s been discovered that Thomas – one of thousands of people granted burial under the floor – once placed a notice in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette on 31 July 1856 advertising all types of flavours and included various ways on how these could be used to flavour tarts, jellies and spirits.

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He is one of the hundreds of Bathonians commemorated in the Abbey and researched for the Bath Abbey ledger stone project as part of #Footprintproject.

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You can visit the blog site of Abbey archivist, Anna Riggs to check out the advert:


Twilight talks about fashion.

Twilight talks about fashion.

Subjects ranging from Jane Austen to fashions inspired by Caribbean culture will be amongst topics featured when the Fashion Museum Bath hosts a series of Twilight Talks this autumn.

fashion museum

The talks, at the Bath & North East Somerset Council run Museum, will also include subjects such as the use of fur and feathers in fashion and a fascinating insight into the life of British stage and screen actress Vivien Leigh.

Cllrs Paul Myers (Conservative, Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration said: “This is a wonderful programme of talks put together by staff at the Fashion Museum, covering a diverse range of topics.   I am delighted they have been able to incorporate events to coincide with the Jane Austen Festival and Black History Month.  The talks should prove to be informative, inspiring and thought provoking.”

fashion museum

All talks take place at the Fashion Museum from 6.15pm to 7.15pm. Tickets cost £10 adult/£8 student including a glass of wine, and can be booked


Jane Austen

Thursday 14 September 2017

A talk about fashions at the time of Jane Austen, to coincide with the annual Jane Austen Festival that takes place in Bath each September.


Discovering Pauline Baynes

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Hear all about Alberto Ceccatelli’s research discovering the life and work of children’s illustrator Pauline Baynes, who, as a child, owned a vibrant jumper now on display at the Fashion Museum. Later in life, Baynes worked with JRR Tolkien and illustrated many children’s books including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The talk will be a conversation in Italian and English, with simultaneous translation.


Re-use and Re-purpose: Understanding Jessica Ogden

Thursday 12 October 2017

Join Professor Carol Tulloch as she talks about how British/Jamaican fashion designer Jessica Ogden’s work re-making, re-cycling and customising pre-used textiles is rooted in a centuries old Caribbean tradition. Part of Black History Month.


Vivien Leigh – Actress and Movie Star

Thursday 9 November 2017

Keith Lodwick will talk about British stage and screen actress Vivien Leigh, drawing on the archive of her letters and diaries at the Theatre Museum Collection. Leigh’s 1940s red embroidered jacket is on display at the Fashion Museum.


Fashioned from Nature

Thursday 23 November 2017

Drawing on her research for the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition Fashioned From Nature, Edwina Ehrman will talk about the fascinating role of fur and feathers in fashion from the 18th century to the present day. Her talk will particularly focus on the human impulse to improve on and commodify nature.

For more information visit:


A Corridor in time.

A Corridor in time.

Jean Pile writes from Bear Flat in Bath:

‘I was interested to see The Corridor mentioned recently. I remember it well when I was growing up in Bath – a very busy arcade with lots of well attended shops.

Bath Corridor

The Corridor in Bath


The most prominent one was Hatts a large, very smart hairdresser’s, taking up quite a continuous space on the left of the Corridor walking from the Guildhall end.

northumberland place

Northumberland Place.

Northumberland Place, by comparison in those days – the 1950s/60s – was a fairly ordinary street, quite the opposite to the Corridor. There was a plant shop at one end with W.H. Smith at the other, now Patisserie Valerie as mentioned.’

Action plan to ‘save the High Street’ proposed.

Action plan to ‘save the High Street’ proposed.

A new Local Shops Action Plan – aimed at supporting local traders in shopping districts, town centres and high streets across the area – is going to be produced by B&NES.

The Council says it will seek to produce the new Action Plan in consultation with local business group, bringing together a range measures aimed at supporting and promoting the area’s shops and traders and boosting footfall on local high streets.


Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, Cllr Paul Myers (Cons, Midsomer Norton Redfield), leading the work said, “We’re lucky in Bath & North East Somerset to have some of the best shopping districts in the country, ranging from Bath’s world renowned city centre, to our historic market towns and vibrant local high streets.

“However, we also know that, with the ever-increasing use of online shopping, high streets across the country are facing the challenge of adapting to the changing way people use local shops.

“We have been asking local traders and business groups in the City for their views, listening to the main issues affecting their shopping areas and gathering their ideas as part of developing the action plan. To ensure that we can support the whole of B&NES we will also be engaging business groups in NE Somerset to make sure that we can deliver as much support to the sector as possible. 


The new Action Plan aims to cover all the key shopping districts in Bath & North East Somerset, from Bath city centre, to local high streets and town centres across the district.

Some of the issues the new Action Plan is proposing to look at include:

  • How best to promote local shopping districts;
  • Working with traders to improve the shopping experience in local retail centres and high streets to encourage greater footfall;
  • How the Council should engage with local traders on an ongoing basis to ensure they continue to be supported in the years ahead;
  • How to encourage a broad choice of retailers for shoppers, ranging from larger ‘anchor’ stores to smaller independent traders;
  • What are the main factors that affect shopping districts, such as parking provision, public realm improvements, antisocial behaviour and community facilities.
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Cllr Myers added, “Obviously any proposals will need to take account of the financial constraints the Council faces, and the future regeneration plans but the Council does have an important role to play in supporting our local economy. By working in partnership with local traders there’s much we can do to support locally-driven solutions”

The Council has said it recognises that there will be different issues affecting different parts of the area that will need locally-driven solutions, and wants to engage with local business groups such as local Chambers of Commerce for all of its towns and the Bath Business Improvement District in producing its Action Plan.


A ‘call’ to arms

A ‘call’ to arms

Hales the Chemist  – on Bath’s Argyle Street – occupies one of the earliest commercial premises built in the city.


Scaffolding in place outside Hale’s the Chemist for the conservators to start work on the royal coat of arms.

It’s at one end of a remarkable line of shop fronts – along a street originally created for shopping – and has traded under the name of A.H.Hale since 1826.


The colourful interior of Hales the Chemist.

While much of its frontage is original – and its interior decorated with a vivid array of  old fashioned medicine bottles and carboys – from its days as an apothecary’s shop – there’s one external feature with an even more colourful story to tell.


A photograph of the coat of arms – above Hales Chemist – before restoration began.

Above the attractive Ionic-columned shop front of No 8 rests the arms of Charlotte Sophia, Queen of England and wife of George the Third.

It’s not their original home – as they have been moved around the city quite a bit – but have been here since 1982 after being discovered in the Guildhall basement.

The Queen had visited Bath and the coat of arms would have indicated Her Majesty had spent money in a shop which was then anxious to boast – by having the coat of arms made – that they were ‘By Royal Appointment’  – having been given the royal seal of approval.

Of course holders of a ‘Royal Warrant’ today still like to show they enjoy royal favour.

How this colourful landmark came to rest above an Argyle Street chemist we will come to in a moment.


Freelance conservators Joanna Pucci and Teresa Llewellyn at work on the royal coat of arms.

I climbed the scaffolding – recently erected in front of the shop – to meet two conservators tasked with cleaning off layers of faded paint and re-colouring the royal insignia.

The World Heritage Enhancement Fund has put in the largest chunk of funding for this work to be done, with contributions from the Leche Trust, Mr Doshi and his family – who now own the chemist –  and the Bath Heradic Society through.

So it has been a real collaboration between people keen to see it restored to its former glory.

Once up on the platform, I was able to speak to conservator, Teresa Llewellyn while her colleague – Joanna Pucci – continued her delicate work behind her.

The women are freelance conservators employed by Somerset-based Cliveden Conservation to carry out the project.

Here’s what Teresa had to say about the history of the coat of arms.


The Queen was in Bath in 1817 and was at a Guildhall banquet when news came through of the death of her daughter Princess Charlotte, in childbirth.


A portrait of Queen Charlotte – by Sir Joshua Reynolds – that hangs in the Banqueting Room at the Bath Guildhall.

It was – for the Nation – a bit of a ‘Princess Diana moment’ as Charlotte was much loved.

I picked up another story while talking to the current owner pharmacist Mr Balwant Doshi.

It concerns another famous family and – if it’s true – shows that Jane Austen’s mother Cassandra could also ‘pen’ a word or two.


A copy of the poem apparently ‘penned’ by Jane Austen’s mother Cassandra to thank an apothecary for medicine which helped her recover from a serious illness.

You can pop in and see the evidence next time you are in the area but l am sure the Doshi family would like you to buy something as well.

The conservators hope to finish their work by the end of next week – weather permitting.