Family history courses at Bath Record Office

Family history courses at Bath Record Office

Bath Record Office is offering a series of its popular family history day courses again this autumn.

The Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Record Office is offering one-day beginners’ and advanced courses which will help participants research family history in England and Wales.

Bath Record Office

Bath Record Office at the Guildhall.

The beginners’ courses will cover basic sources for researching family history in England and Wales, looking particularly at how to get the best out of family history websites such as The advanced courses will consider sources that are sometimes overlooked, and examine how to discover and interpret the archives that family historians need to use once they have moved beyond basic sources.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Con, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “These courses have always proven very popular with local residents keen to find out more about the past so I’d recommend booking your place as early as possible. We are very grateful to the Medlock Trust for helping to fund these courses.”

In both courses, there will be an opportunity to discuss individual family history problems – this may be on a one-to-one basis, or as part of a general ‘troubleshooting’ session of interest to all the participants.

Tuesday 1 November, Beginners, Bath Guildhall

Saturday 12 November, Advanced, Bath Guildhall

Saturday 26 November, Beginners, Bath Guildhall

Wednesday 30 November, Advanced, Bath Guildhall

Saturday 3 December, Beginners, Keynsham Community Space (above the library and One Stop Shop)

Saturday 10 December, Advanced, Bath Guildhall

The courses will start at 10.30am and finish at 3pm. Morning coffee/tea and lunch will be provided. Courses cost £20 (beginners) or £25 (advanced). Book in person at Bath Record Office or over the phone by debit/credit card on 01225 477421.


B&NES now offering digital access to ancestral records.

B&NES now offering digital access to ancestral records.

Residents, or those with family or historic ancestral connections to the area, are now able to go online to access burial and cremation records managed and held by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

The Council, in partnership with Deceased Online,, has scanned and created digital versions of all burial and cremation records going back to the early 1850s to enable easy and fast searching for family and ancestors’ records.


Under statutory legislation, burial and cremation records need to be managed and preserved by all local authorities. Until now, anyone searching for these records would have needed to apply to the Council or visit the Bereavement Services offices. The availability of the online records means that individuals are able to search the data themselves 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This will improve accessibility for the users, reduce the demand on Council resources and provide far easier and faster access to the records by the public. The online records will also be available to global users and visiting tourists who have an interest in the region and local family connections .

Deceased Online already has records for 150+ UK councils and other archives in its database; users can search the website free of charge and digital copies of records can be downloaded for a small fee per document.

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “We are embracing digital technology to ensure these vital records are safeguarded and made easier to access and at a lower cost than before. This project will also provide local, national and even international researchers access to the fascinating history of the area at the click of a button from anywhere in the world.”

The digital records available are as follows:

Bathwick Cemetery, 1862-1998

Harptree Cemetery, 1884-2011

Haycombe Cemetery, 1937-1990

Locksbrook Cemetery, 1864-2010

St James’s Cemetery (formerly Lyn Wid & St James), 1861-2011

St Michael’s Cemetery, 1851-2008

Twerton/Bellots Road Cemetery, 1882-2003

Haycombe Crematorium, 1961-1996


People searching the website will be able to find:

• Scans of original registers

• Grave details indicating all those buried within each grave

• Maps indicating the section within the cemeteries where each grave is located (available for Haycombe, St James’s and Twerton cemeteries only)


Blooming success!

Blooming success!

Bath has been awarded a prestigious silver gilt award for its South West in Bloom entry in the Business Improvement District (BID) category for 2016.

Judges praised the re-invigorated Parade Gardens, with its children’s paintings on display, and new Orange Grove plantings – both of which are managed by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks team.

Award-winning parks team at Bath and North East Somerset pose at Parade Gardens in Bath.

Award-winning parks team at Bath and North East Somerset pose at Parade Gardens in Bath. Photo © Tim Gander 2016. 

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved – this was Bath’s first entry in this category and this is an excellent result continuing our marvellous tradition of floral and horticultural Bath.

“I know our parks team worked closely with Bath in Bloom to achieve this award and put together a brilliant display for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Louise Prynne, Chief Executive of The Bath BID Company, added: “Bath in Bloom is key to enhancing the look and feel of the city centre. Our team supported the entry, ensuring the city was looking its best, and the new tower planters supported by the BID at the bottom of Milsom Street provided an attractive gateway into Green Street.

“I am keen to find ways to work with the Bath in Bloom team and others to maximise the role that horticulture and landscape design plays bringing to life hidden parts of the city, enticing people  to explore off the main north – south pedestrian route. “


‘Know Your Place’ launched in Wiltshire, Bath & NE Somerset and Gloucestershire

‘Know Your Place’ launched in Wiltshire, Bath & NE Somerset and Gloucestershire

Know Your Place project puts three more counties on the map

For the first time, historic maps and heritage data of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Bath and North East Somerset are nokyp-map-logo-with-wilts-bnes-glos-addedw freely available online in one place, thanks to the latest expansion of Know Your Place West of England.

This information has come from the website of The South West Federation of Museums and Art Galleries.

From Stonehenge to Swindon, Keynsham to the Cotswolds, Salisbury plain to the spa towns of Bath and Cheltenham – you can now discover how these places have transformed over time.

What this means for the West

Now covering more than 4360 square miles, Know Your Place allows you to explore some of the most famous landmarks from the region’s history, from the World Heritage sites at Bath and Avebury, to Wiltshire’s White Horses and the unique landscapes of the Forest of Dean and Severn Estuary that are the focus of other Heritage Lottery Funded projects.

You will also be able to upload and share your own information about the area straight onto Know Your Place helping to build a rich and diverse community map of local heritage for everyone; from school children to family historians, planners to enthusiasts of community heritage.

Users of Know Your Place in Bristol and South Gloucestershire said:

“I like the thousands of little windows it provides into the past; all based on specific identified places on the map. It is a wonderful tool for local history research.”

“I love the layers of maps; it demonstrates so well how the area has grown and developed.”


Know Your place are working towards publishing additional Know Your Place data for these three new counties.

More than 50 project volunteers are working hard to prepare further historic tithe, enclosure and town maps, which will be add onto Know Your Place over the coming months.

They are also working closely with Historic Environment Record officers to to publish Historic Environment Record (HER) data for Gloucestershire, refine the HER data already available for Wiltshire and B&NES and to share HER data for North Somerset and Somerset in future.

Museums and archives across the region are identifying items from their collections that will begin to be mapped onto Know Your Place once their county is online.

You can now find the following counties on Know Your Place: Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & NE Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Their aim is to grow and evolve the website as more people use and contribute to Know Your Place, and expect to map remaining areas and information layers by Summer 2016.

Exhibition coming soon

Know Your Place is also designing an upcoming touring exhibition that will visit 12 venues across the West of England starting in late October 2016, celebrating our rich heritage and helping to raise awareness of Know Your Place.

Read more and explore the map at:

New hotel taking shape.

New hotel taking shape.


Well l have got to say the old Kingsmead House site – on the corner of James Street West and Charles Street – is now rapidly taking on a new shape.


A ‘phone shot – taken into the sun.

It’s gone from being the location for a derelict office block to a big hole in the ground – and now this vacant lot is being transformed into a £35 million pound four-star hotel  -creating around 120 local jobs.


The old Kingsmead House from Charles Street


A water-filled hole in the ground!

Scottish-based Apex Hotels – which operates eight sites across Edinburgh, Dundee and London – is building a 177 bedroom full service hotel with conference facilities. It’s due to open in 2017.


Artist’s impression of new hotel.

The Apex City of Bath Hotel  will be the city’s largest hotel both in terms of conference and events spaces and number of bedrooms.


From James Street West

The hotel’s conference room will hold up to 420 delegates which will be the largest in Bath and the 4-star hotel itself will have 177 contemporary bedrooms including family rooms and suites, some of which include balconies.


Artist’s impression of foyer – complete with Bladdud pigs?

It will also be fully equipped with leisure facilities including a gym and pool as well as a stylish bar and restaurant.


First look at the new ‘Min’

First look at the new ‘Min’

I am able to bring Bath Newseum followers a first glimpse of the proposed new building which will replace the city’s much-loved Mineral Water Hospital and be constructed as part of the main Royal United Hospital complex at Weston.


How the new Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases may look when it is built and joined to one side of the entrance to the RUH. The new Dyson Cancer Centre makes up the extending wing on the other side – out of frame on the right of this illustration.

The image comes courtesy of Professor George Odam – who was Patient Governor of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases for nine years.


Professor George Odam

He is also someone who has relentlessly campaigned  to ensure that the move to the main hospital – from the Grade 2 listed and town-centered building – will not reduce the status of the research work done there over the years AND the future quality of service to patients.

The old hospital – known affectionately as The Min – was founded for the nation’s ‘deserving poor’  and the foundation stone laid in 1738.

the min

John Wood’s plan for the hospital.

Designed by John Wood the Elder, the Bath stone was given by John Allen from his local quarries and the money to build the first half of the current building ( a Victorian wing  was added later) – raised by Beau Nash from amongst Bath’s wealthy visitors.

Since then it has specialised in the treatment of rheumatological conditions with the aim of rehabilitating patients as soon as possible, and the historic casebook, in the hospital’s museum, gives precise detail of cases from the very beginning.

Professor Odam says:

‘In the 1940s, following severe bombing, The Min was rebuilt with energy and vision, spurred on by the determination of Bath’s own Dr George Kersley, who founded the first Department of Rheumatology and gave the name to this new discipline.
The Min survived and has remained in the historic buildings that patients have grown to love so much for their friendliness, charm and lack of normal health institutional atmosphere.
the min

The ‘Min’

Research has been a king pin of this hospital’s work over the centuries and The Min has more recently become a national centre for award-winning research into and treatment of a rare rheumatic condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).
Clinicians have worked creatively with physiotherapists and hydrotherapists to evolve a residential course for AS patients. This course has no equivalent anywhere else and thousands of patients from all over the UK and also from other parts of the globe have benefitted from it, often describing it as life-changing.’
the min
Now it has been decided the original building is no longer ‘fit-for-purpose’ and The Min will close in two years as its work transfers to the newly-built centre at the RUH.

Of the new building illustration – Professor  Odam tells followers of a Facebook Closed group – for supporters and patients of the RNHRD :

“You can see, it has developed hugely over the past year and far beyond the first sketches which were worrying.

The plan puts it opposite the new Dyson Cancer Centre, at the front of the RUH and it will finally match it in overall presentation.


How the new Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases may look when it is built and joined to one side of the entrance to the RUH. The new Dyson Cancer Centre makes up the extending wing on the other side and out of sight on the right of the picture.

The plan for the new hydro pool is exciting and definitely outshines our beloved pool at The Min. The Centre will have its own X Ray and consulting rooms, gym and therapy centre but no bed wards. I understand that there is also a proposal for an adjacent patients accommodation block for those on courses, but this has yet to be divulged.

Although research will not take place in the new centre it is good to know that future research proposals from RNHRD will have that as a title – building on the worldwide research reputation of The Min.’

I understand there is going to be a ‘Patient Consultation’ meeting on Thursday of this week  when floor plans will also be produced for comment. Both the look of the new building, what it is actually called AND what is eventually offered inside could change.

The meeting is also to reassure patients that, in the future, they can expect the same clinicians providing the same level of service but in a purpose-built new location.

In the meantime, Professor Odam turns his comments towards the fate of the old building.

‘Although I am still greatly worried about the fate of our historic lovely hospital, many agencies are now sensitised and interested in its future. I sincerely hope that the link with medicine and the waters will not be lost.


I’m aware that B&NES and Ben Howlett MP are keeping a watchful eye – which is heartening. The proposed Bath Medical Museum, housing the history of The Min in tangible form, will be an important part of future decisions.’

There are lots of possible outcomes in the air regarding the future of this prime piece of Bath’s historic and medically relevant architecture.

First of all the newly-energised Bath Medical Museum – with its amazing collection of art and patient records – will want to be part of whatever scheme is adopted. There are two other possible occupants elsewhere in the city.

Bath Fashion Museum is not that far from the end of its lease at the Assembly Rooms and the city’s Record Office – in the Guildhall – is fast running out of space.

Bath Record Office

Bath Record Office at the Guildhall.

If that is not enough to fill the old building there is the question of the original hydrotherapy bath and the amazing conduit originally used to pump thermal water up to the hospital from the spring in Stall Street.

While the city’s Thermae Spa offers visitors a chance to soak in these amazing hot springs – maybe – its being suggested -the Min could switch the pumps back on and bring the water  up through the conduit to supply an up market ‘medical spa centre’ – designed for international clients prepared to pay for that level of service.

For Your Information:

Professor George Odam was the first Professor of Music to be appointed at Bath Spa University and subsequently was Head of Research at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London – retiring in 2007. He has lived in and around Bath for 45 years and has a keen interest in its history and art.

Roman Bath’s Archway Project gets Heritage funding!

Roman Bath’s Archway Project gets Heritage funding!

School children, local communities and visitors are set to benefit from a new Roman Baths Learning Centre and World Heritage Centre in Bath, thanks to a grant of £3.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Archway Project. Building work is due to get underway next year.


An artists impression of how the new Archway Project might look.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has decided to support the Archway Project.

“School children will now be able to learn about their heritage in a brand-new Learning Centre, where they can take part in hands-on archaeological activities using in-situ Roman remains. And, for the first time, we will have a World Heritage Centre where people can find out why Bath is a World Heritage site. We hope it will inspire people to explore the special historic sites of the city.”

“The Archway Project will create a wide variety of opportunities for local residents: there will be exciting events and activities for all ages, new apprenticeships and work placements, volunteering opportunities, and new ways for community groups ­– particularly those that work with vulnerable adults – to get involved.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “From displaying hidden Roman rooms to inspiring the next generation to get hands-on with Bath’s past, this is an incredibly exciting project and we’re proud to offer our support, thanks of course to National Lottery players. 

“Today’s investment will transform the way the city’s story is told, provide unprecedented access to its heritage and play a key role in the development of this World Heritage site.” 


The Archway Project will open up areas of the Roman Baths not seen by the public before.

The Roman Baths Learning Centre will be a fully accessible, state-of-the-art centre where school children will participate in exciting hands-on sessions with Roman artefacts and where projects and activities will be run for members of the local community. It will be linked to the Roman Baths via an underground tunnel. 

There will be an Investigation Zone set among Roman remains, where children will be able to explore and record archaeological materials, and an excavation area where they will be able to unearth replica Roman objects. This space will be used for family events at weekends and during the school holidays.

 The World Heritage Centre will contain imaginative displays that explain why the World Heritage site of Bath is so special. Admission will be free for everyone.

The project will also open up areas of Roman remains that have never before been open for regular public access, including a rare laconicum (sauna) and an exercise courtyard, revealing fascinating new aspects of the ancient site.

The £5m development will be housed in former Victorian spa buildings in Swallow Street and York Street, next to the Roman Baths. Building work is set to start in 2017, and the Roman Baths Learning Centre and World Heritage Centre are due to open in 2019.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

 Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery