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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The crossing before re-painting.

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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.

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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.

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

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A closer look at missing stones.

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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.

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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.

One Bath ‘taxi’ that’s poles apart!

One Bath ‘taxi’ that’s poles apart!

Tuesday morning finds me fulfilling my duties as a member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides and pleased today to be able to take my group of Italian, Spanish and Israeli visitors on a tour of the (Upper) Assembly Rooms.

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The A-board outside tells you if the ‘historic rooms’ are open to view.

You have to check the A board outside the entrance to see if it’s a  good day for a visit. If it says historic rooms ‘open’ you can sign in your group and show them around this Georgian centre of entertainment – designed by John Wood Junior – and opened in 1771.

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The second sedan chair is back in place!

Imagine my pleasant surprise to be greeted – in the central crossing point between rooms – by the return of the second of the two genuine sedan chairs that have been on display here for years.

Both were taken away after it was discovered they were suffering from an insect infestation. The first of the two came back last December after treatment – and now the second has been returned.

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Sedan chair – number 68 – returned last December.

These late 18th century Bath ‘taxis’ were licensed by the Corporation and would have brought people to the doors of the Assembly Rooms for concerts and balls.

This ‘new’ form of transport – introduced from continental Europe in the 16th century – was well suited to Bath’s narrow and crowded streets.

They were used to take people to the thermal baths for treatment and also to transport them to public entertainments like concerts and balls.

By the 1850’s most sedan chairs had been replaced by wheeled bath chairs for short trips in the city and fly carriages to take people to the suburbs.

Guildhall buddleia and the new monolith.

Guildhall buddleia and the new monolith.

A quick round up as we head into the weekend. Network Rail contractors have completed repairs to the decking of the cast-iron footbridge across the main rail line passing through Sydney Gardens.

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Repairs completed to the planks across the rail footbridge.

 

However, the stone walling – into which this Brunel designed marvel is slotted – must be cause for concern.

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Stone is breaking away from the rail footbridge.

Had the government worried less about HS2 – and more about letting the electrification of the London to Bristol line continue – the rail bridges through this former Georgian pleasure garden would have been ‘restored’ before new safety barriers were applied.

City end of Great Pulteney Street finds the poor old Laura Place fountain once more as dry as a bone. Why cannot someone be found to sponsor this little watery attraction. It certainly ruins any picture our tourists try to take looking down towards the Holburne.

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Switched off and empty again!

Into the High Street, and new direction monoliths are going up. Can see they will help but still feel its a pity our little back streets couldn’t come together under a ‘The Bath Lanes’ banner.

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The new monolith outside The Corridor.

Meanwhile our beloved Guildhall – a symbol of local government and of the city’s mayoralty – sits in the background of yet another photo showing the mess on our streets.

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Food waste is mixed in and birds can smell it!

This is on a par  – as an important issue – with the East of Bath Park and Ride. Get a meeting going now with B&NES, local businesses and refuse collectors. All bags should be labelled so you can catch the idiots putting food into them. Don’t blame gulls and pigeons for human failings.We make more of a mess than the birds do.

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The Guildhall buddleia

Finally, l remember the B&NES councillor who told me buddleia does not grow in this city because we don’t have derelict sites. Tell that to the plant flourishing just inside the railings outside the Guildhall.

Maybe it knows something we don’t?

 

 

 

 

Don’t let Bath become a doughnut!

Don’t let Bath become a doughnut!

He’s got responsibility for influencing the way the modern city of Bath connects with and safeguards its history and heritage, but when l met Professor Barry Gilbertson – newly appointed as Chairman of the City of Bath World Heritage Steering Group – he wanted to talk doughnuts.

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Well,  he also wanted to talk about what  World Heritage status means to Bath and how – as a place where people live and work –  the city couldn’t be frozen in time – but it was the comparison between the heart of this ancient place to a ring doughnut that stuck in my mind.

It’s all to do with the threat of creating a hole in the middle because residents don’t want to live in the heart of Bath because tourism is too high.

I went to Barry’s city centre home to do a substantial interview with him. He is – of course – only at the start of his tenure-ship and has a lot of meetings and research to undertake.

His chat ranges over how to manage the impact of the city’s development with its World Heritage Status, the issue of transport and the impact of some four and a half million visitors each year on the fabric of Bath.

He wants to talk to groups and organisations everywhere to spread the World Heritage news and give his body a much higher profile.

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You’ll find a story about his appointment – which lists his credentials – elsewhere in Bath Newseum, but before you click on the interview l will leave you with a quote from Barry.

“We are not our past, but our Heritage must play its part in the future of this wonderful city, whether it is to live, to work or to play.

Importantly, the WHS should not be a constraint or obstacle to growth, but an invitation to excel.’

 

 

Now you see it. City’s new hotel revealed.

Now you see it. City’s new hotel revealed.

More than 1,000 tonnes of Bath stone has gone into the facade of the new Apex City of  Bath Hotel which is celebrating yet another milestone in its construction as the grand opening of the £35m property approaches.

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Contractors have removed the final piece of scaffolding around the hotel’s façade, revealing the complex – built using the local stone – in all its glory.

Just over 1,000 tonnes of Base Bed Stone, sourced from Stoke Mill Mine just outside Bath, was used in the hotel’s construction.

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The removal gives locals and visitors to the historic city the first full glimpse of the 177-bed property, which will be Bath’s largest hotel.

Tim O’Sullivan, General Manager of Apex City of Bath Hotel, said: “Construction on the hotel began just under two years ago, so the scaffolding coming down marks a significant milestone on our journey towards opening to the public.

 

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Tim O’Sullivan, General Manager

 

“We’re entering the final countdown, and it’s fantastic to finally see the façade – which is covered with more than two-thousand square feet of Bath stone – in its full glory. We’re looking forward to welcoming locals and visitors inside to see what lies in store once we’re officially opened.”

Opening in August, the four-star Apex City of Bath Hotel will boast 177 bedrooms, restaurant, bar, gymnasium and pool alongside Bath’s only city centre conference facility for up to 400 guests. The hotel is ideally located within easy reach of tourist destinations, and just five minutes’ walk from the world famous Roman Baths.

 

Let’s ‘twin’ museums says Holburne’s new director to Bath’s Dutch friends.

Let’s ‘twin’ museums says Holburne’s new director to Bath’s Dutch friends.

An exchange of artwork between Bath’s Holburne Museum and one of the Netherland’s oldest museums is on the cards following a town-twinning reception held in our Georgian city last night.

It was organised to help celebrate 70 years of international friendship – between Bath and the city of Alkmaar in northern Holland.

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The Mayor of Alkmaar – Burgomeester Piet Bruinooge  and his wife Elly – inspecting a display of Dutch silver at the Holburne Museum reception.

It was also the first public engagement for the Holburne’s new Director, Dr Chris Stephens.

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The new Director of the Holburne Museum, Dr Chris Stephens.

He welcomed everyone to the museum and hoped an ‘ association’ might develop between the Holburne and the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar.

Forgive the sound quality of an impromptu recording.

Bath has been hosting a week of festivities for the Mayor of Alkmaar, Mr Piet Bruinooge and a delegation from the Dutch town.

The Bath-Alkmaar friendship goes back to the days of World War Two when a young Dutch Jewish playwright – Elias Prins –  escaped the advancing Nazis and ended up in Bath working as an air raid warden.

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L to R. Mayor of Bath, Cllr Ian Gilchrist; Dr Chris Stephens, Director of Holburne Museum, and the out-going Chairman of the Bath-Alkmaar Twinning Association, Mr Martin Broadbent.

He quickly became a well-known local figure through the many talks he gave to community groups and schools about the plight of his people.

Bathonians – inspired by Eli and his new friends in the local Rotary Club – decided to launch its own Alkmaar Appeal – and with the blessing of the Dutch sovereign, HRH Queen Wilhelmina.

It makes Bath’s ties with Alkmaar the oldest official ‘twinning’ link of any which came out of the war.

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L to R Professor Gwythian Prins receiving a ‘Certificate of Honorary Membership’ from out-going Association Chairman Martin Broadbent.

At the Holburne reception, Professor Gwythian Prins – the Bath-born son of Elias Prins – was given an Honorary Membership Certificate of the Twinning Association and an Alkmaar Medal of Friendship by the Mayor of the Dutch town.

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Professor Gwythian Prins receiving an ‘Alkmaar Medal of Friendship’ from Burgomeester, Mr Piet Bruinooge.

The Association has also arranged two Concerts to be held on Saturday 15 July and Sunday 16 July, featuring the fabulous Alkmaar Youth Orchestra with special guests, re-telling a tale of tragedy, daring escape and international friendship in music and readings, rounding off a week of Anglo-Dutch celebrations in Bath.
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The Mayor (Councillor Ian Gilchrist) will attend the Concert on Saturday, and the Deputy Mayor (Councillor Rob Appleyard) will attend the family Concert on the Sunday.
Find out more about the Bath-Alkmaar Association – and read the amazing full story of how it came about – via www.Bath-Alkmaar.eu
Earlier in the day, a memorial service was held at St Swithins, Bathford to remember Elias Prins and especially his parents and family who were all murdered in the Sobibor concentration camp.
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Eli and Ida’s son Gwythian speaking at the memorial service in Bathford.

Memorial stones for Eli and his wife Ida are in the graveyard of the church in the village in which they lived.
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The memorial to Eli and Ida Prins at Bathford

Children from Bathford Primary School were also at the event.
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Children from Bathford Primary School look on as kaddish – an ancient Jewish prayer – is spoken at the memorial to Eli and Ida Prins.

 

 

 

Stepping up to the flag

Stepping up to the flag

Don’t worry. Bath Abbey wasn’t in the process of installing an aerial for a mobile ‘phone company.

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The scaffolding was in place to enable the flagpole – on top of the tower – to be repaired.

Though l didn’t envy conservators from Sally Strachey Conservation being on that platform. At 49 meters, this is the tallest structure of its kind in Bath.

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The tower of Bath Abbey

The Abbey flag is now flying again after an unofficial flag-raising ceremony took place at the top of the Tower earlier today.

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The flag bears the arms of the Diocese of Bath & Wells shown in the top left-hand canton of the St George flag. If you’re a history fan, here’s a fun fact…In 1938, the Earl Marshal of England laid down that the proper flag to be flown on any church in England is the Cross of St George with the arms of the see in the first quarter.

The Bath & Wells Diocesan flag is flown from the top of the Abbey Tower every day come wind, rain or shine.

Scaffold Tower flag pole 11 July

An Abbey spokesperson told Bath Newseum: ‘Unfortunately our flagpole takes quite a bit of battering from Mother Nature so has been out of action for a while.

Thank you to Sally Strachey Historic Conservation who did a great job of fixing the broken finial and rope on our flagpole and allowing us to proudly fly our flag once more!’

It’s effort enough for me climbing the 212 on a tower tour without then having to go on to the finial at the top of the flagpole! You would certainly need a head for heights!

Joking aside, l do know some churches with spires do make a little extra income renting out space to mobile ‘phone companies.

I remember seeing an aerial inside the spire of St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol. It’s not so bad when you can hide the mast inside.