British Science Week events @ Roman Baths

British Science Week events @ Roman Baths


Families can enjoy a week of fun activities based on the science behind the Roman Baths and its museum objects as part of British Science Week (10-19 March 2017).

The week kicks off with Science Busking on Saturday 11 March, 2-5pm. From discovering Roman pottery found at the Baths to finding out how to test water temperature at the Great Bath, there will be a range of activities to take part in during the day.

roman baths

The Roman Baths.

Throughout the week (13-17 March, 2-4pm), hands-on science events will be running with the chance to explore coins, mosaics and bones from the museum collection.

The week ends with Bath Taps into Science (18 March, 10am-4pm) a day of science investigations at Royal Victoria Park, by the bandstand, organised by the University of Bath. Visitors will be able to find out how the Romans built arches, have a go at building one, and learn about the technology behind aquaducts.

Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “British Science Week at the Roman Baths is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and explore the science used by the Romans, with an array of activities for all ages. All events are free for local residents with a Discovery Card.”

No advance booking required. Children must be accompanied by an adult.



About the Roman Baths

The Roman Baths is located at the heart of the World Heritage City of Bath. Here, the Romans built a magnificent temple and bathing complex on the site of Britain’s only hot spring, which still flows with naturally hot water. Visitors can walk around the Great Bath where people bathed nearly 2,000 years ago, see the ruins of the temple of Minerva, and explore the Roman Baths museum. Run by Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Roman Baths attracts more than 1 million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited heritage attractions in the United Kingdom.

About British Science Week

British Science Week is a 10-day celebration of the best of British science, technology, engineering and maths, featuring fascinating, entertaining and engaging events across the UK. British Science Week is organised by the British Science Association; funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; and supports the Your Life campaign ( For more information visit

More tales from the river bank.

More tales from the river bank.

A packed public meeting at the BRSLI in Queen Square this week to hear Cai Mason of Wessex Archaeology talk about discoveries made during rescue work along the north bank of the River Avon near Churchill Bridge.


More than 130 people turned up for the lecture at the BRSLI in Queen Square. One of the biggest gatherings recorded.

It’s where contractors will be doing some re-shaping at the river edge as part of a flood alleviation scheme in this quarter of the city – earmarked for business and residential redevelopment.


The re-shaped bank will be set out as a park area but, in recent months, archaeologists have been uncovering the evidence of those who worked and lived by the river.


Cai Mason who led the dig.

Archaeologists uncovered and recorded the remains of  a parchment-making factory, foundry, public baths and laundry, tenement houses,  a pub and a cobbled slipway to the river.


How the river bank will look.

A careful study of maps – ancient and modern – helped them to know what to expect as the earth was removed.

This was an area – prone to flooding – which developed a bad reputation for slum dwellings and prostitution.


Cai Stands in the Bath House. This would have been a section of screened cubicles where people did their laundry and would have paid for hot river water by the bucketful.

But it was an area in which the ordinary people of Bath struggled to making a living and bring up families.

Bath Newseum was given access to the dig as it progressed. In fact, our first interview with Cai attracted five thousand hits in one day.

Though all has been recorded the remains have had to make way for the re-shaping of the bank.

All that is bar one special little piece of the past. A small stone bridge built to cross a ditch as part of improvements to an old riverside path.


The little 18th century stone bridge as excavated.

It’s hoped that it can be incorporated into the re-defined layout as a memorial to this previously unrecorded piece of Bath’s history.

Various artefacts – found during the archaeological work – are currently on display at the BRSLI in Queen Square and it’s free to go in and have a look.


They should be there for at least another week before Wessex Archaeology decide what to do with them.


Here’s a selection:





Every little helps

Every little helps

While Bath Abbey has every reason to be thankful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and philanthropists like Andrew Brownsword  in helping get their Footprint Project off the ground – there’s the day to day expenses involved in running such an historic building to take into account too.

bath abbey

Just recently l noticed the  ‘Welcome’ board outside this late 15th century gothic structure was displaying a sign suggesting slightly more in the way of voluntary donation.

Basically – it’s gone up from two pounds and fifty pence to four.


The ‘suggested donation’ board.

Thought l would just make inquiries and got the following official reply:

‘There is no charge to enter the Abbey, but we do invite visitors to make a donation at our entrance.

Every donation we receive helps enormously. As we do not receive government funding, we rely on the generosity of our visitors and our congregation to fund the work, outreach and maintenance of the Abbey.

We’ve been able to keep our suggested donation at £2.50 (or £1 per child/student) for nearly 17 years.

However, a visitor report last year which included consultation with visitors, market research coupled with inflation showed that a slight increase would be appropriate. At the start of the year, we changed our suggested donation to £4 per person (or £2.00 per child / student).

We are grateful for every donation, whatever the amount. The suggested donation is just that.

The main reason for suggesting an amount is that our experience and research has shown that many visitors find having a suggested amount more helpful than leaving it up to them.

It is important that our visitors know that their donations help us maintain the life the Abbey so that we can continue to welcome our visitors and best serve the city of Bath.’


It’s also good to know the busy Christmas season at Bath Abbey has shown just how popular this gothic wonder is with the general public.

An Abbey spokesperson told me:

‘We’ve definitely seen an increase in our general visitor figures from 2015 to 2016 in the last couple of month.’

And here’s a comparison of figures for November and December 2015 and 2016.  

                                                 2015                       2016

                November          22,170                   23,793

                December           23,272                   29,172

The Abbey provided me with the following points – which may be of interest – but stress these are approximate figures. 

•             The Abbey is full every day from Advent until Christmas Day. We can seat over 1,000 people in the Abbey and for our most popular services such as the Advent Procession, we have to ticket the service otherwise we could fill the church twice over, easily. 

•             Including our Advent service, we have around 40 different carol services and four huge Christmas concerts. All of these services and concerts are packed. A very rough estimate is approximately 24,000 people in total attend all these different services. 

•             There are 3 services on Christmas Eve and another 3 services on Christmas Day with several thousand attending in those 24 hours.

•             We also have Shoppers Carols four times a day on Saturdays during the Bath Christmas market and each service attracts around 700-1,000 people. 

•             The combination of services, rehearsals and the relatively small space of the Abbey makes November and December a very busy but amazing time for us especially as we try to make each service special. 

Everyone has a great time and there’s genuine community spirit with giving and receiving and a lot of Christmas goodwill.


Welcome home number 68!

Welcome home number 68!

Good to see that at least one of the two genuine sedan chairs – that were on display at Bath’s historic Assembly Rooms – has returned to the building after a long absence.


Bath’s Assembly Rooms.

This late 18th century Bath ‘taxi’ is one of many licensed by the Corporation and bears the registration number 68.


Sedan chair – number 68 – returns!

As the notice alongside it declares, ‘chairs such as these would have brought people to the doors of the Assembly Rooms for concerts and assemblies’.

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


The newly conserved sedan chair is positioned just outside the ballroom.

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.


When will this one be coming back too?

The chair – now back on display – is one of two that stood in the Concert Room. Last l heard that had been sent away for detailed conservation work.

Stephen Clews – the Manager of the Pump Rooms and Roman Baths – tells me:

‘We are holding back on putting the second sedan chair back on show as a precaution. The reason they were both removed in the first place is that they were infested by a bug.

Obviously anything less than putting them in a glass case (which we would rather avoid!) means there must be some risk of them re-infestation.

So we have simply put one back to begin with and will see how it gets on, so if there is a recurrence only one will be affected.

We have put bug traps next to it so should be able to discover any re-infestation at an early stage.’

Record Office at 50!

Record Office at 50!

A celebration to mark 50 years of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Record Office is planned for 2017.

In 1967 the Record Office first opened its doors to welcome visitors to the collections of hundreds of historic documents stored in The Guildhall.

Bath Record Office

Bath Record Office at the Guildhall.

In the early days the archive contained just the Council’s own records, but since 1967 archivists have collected many thousands of documents from local businesses, families, private and public organisations, all of which tell the story of life in Bath over the centuries.

Local residents and visitors from across the world have been fascinated to find out more about life in Bath in earlier times. The Record Office is open to all – access to the documents is free of charge and staff are always on hand to offer advice.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Bath Record Office is a superb resource for anyone wanting to find out about the history of Bath, whether browsing through documents in the archive, attending a family history course, or interacting with archivists at one of the roadshows taking place across Bath and North East Somerset this year

“If you haven’t visited, why not call in during 2017? There will be a series of special anniversary events, where you can meet the archivists, explore the strong rooms, and see fascinating documents relating to the history of the area and its people.”


Assistant Archivist, Lucy Powell, at  Bath Record Office.  Photographer Freia Turland

Events during January-March 2017:

The Record Office reaches 50

Wednesday 18 January, 1.10-1.45pm
The Guildhall
Talk by Colin Johnston, Principal Archivist, Bath Record Office

Discovering Bath’s archives: a researcher’s view

Wednesday 25 January, 1.10pm–1.45pm
The Guildhall
Talk by Dr Amy Frost of Bath Preservation Trust

A Record Office fit for the future

Wednesday 1 February, 1.10pm–1.45pm
The Guildhall
Talk by Gary Tuson, County Archivist of Norfolk

Advanced Family History Study Day – Understanding Archives

Friday 3 March, 10.00am-3.30pm

The Guildhall


Beginners’ Family History Day

Wednesday 15 March, 10.00am-3.30pm

The Guildhall


History At Your Feet – Bath Record Office tours

Wednesday 22 March, 10.30am and 11.30am
The Guildhall
Free but booking essential
Explore 900 years of historic archives in the Bath Record Office strong rooms in The Guildhall basement. Your tour will involve negotiating uneven floors, steps and low headroom. Call 01225 477421 or email to book.



Bath’s Central Library on the move!

Bath’s Central Library on the move!

Bath Central Library is on the move – as part of plans by Bath & North East Somerset Council save money and  modernise library services across the district.

bath library

Bath Central Library

Next year, it’s going to relocate to the top two floors of Lewis House in Manvers Street. 


Going to be a tough job fitting in Bath Central Library – plus its study area – onto the top two floors of the One Stop Shop!

 Following the success of the joint library and One Stop Shop in Keynsham, B&NES say they want to see Bath’s Central Library and Midsomer Norton Library modernised to reflect the changing way people use the library service.

The plans for Bath Central Library:

Relocating the library to the first two floors of Lewis House in Manvers Street.

More computers and improved Wi-Fi access will be available to make the most of new technology and support digital access.

More child and family-friendly facilities will be created.

Designs for the new facility will be available in January with work expected to start following public feedback in the spring, with the work expected to last around nine months.

To ensure a continuous library service, a temporary library will be created in The Podium while work is carried out on the new location.

The public will be encouraged to give feedback on the plans early in the new year to help shape the final layout.

bath central library

Bath Central Library

Data collected by Bath Central Library over an average week shows how people use the library:

52% wanted to book a computer or print something out

19% wanted information

9% wanted to renew or borrow books

6% wanted a particular item

5% wanted help with their account

4% wanted help with computers or photocopiers

2% wanted newspapers

2% wanted to hand items in

1% wanted to join the library

The plans put forward by the Council will create a modern service offering access to more computers, improved Wi-Fi facilities and more family space, with continued access to the 3 million books available through the Libraries West system.

Work on the new design is underway and a first draft of the plans will be ready in the New Year when comments from members of the public will be welcome.

bath central library

Bath Central Library

The plans for Midsomer Norton Library:

Relocating the library to the One Stop Shop at The Hollies.

There will be more computers and improved Wi-Fi access to make the most of new technology to support digital access.

More child and family-friendly facilities will be created.

Designs for the new facility will be shared with the community in January for comment and feedback.

All three million books will continue be available for members of the public to access through Libraries West and local history books will be added to the archive collection and be available to everyone in a modernised facility in The Guildhall.

Cllr Martin Veal

Cllr Martin Veal

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The plans we are putting forward will ensure that B&NES residents have access to a modern library service which is both sustainable for the future and fits with the way in which people are now using library services.

“For example, we know that people are increasingly using our libraries to access computers and information as well as attending family events, rather than simply browsing for books.

“Our plans will therefore offer more computers, improved Wi-Fi and new technology to support digital access as well as offering more child and family-friendly facilities, whilst continuing to provide access to the three million books available through Libraries West.

“At the same time, the Council is facing extremely challenging times as it looks to balance its budget. By co-locating our libraries with other community services these changes will not only provide a modern library service to residents but will also help the Council towards achieving the large savings it has to make in the coming years.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council needs to save £49 million over four years. Modernising the library service will contribute £800,000 a year towards these savings by co-locating the libraries with other public services and freeing-up current premises such as the Podium which can then generate an income for the Council through leasing opportunities.

Designs for the new facilities will be available in the New Year when members of the public will be encouraged to comment and provide feedback.

No doubt  there will be many who think the move from the Podium will leave Waitrose room to add a mini John Lewis of sorts? There is also no mention of possible job losses from the library service?

One reliable source tells me the vacated space will have to be converted into offices to house the council staff dislodged from Lewis House by the library move.

Bath’s 2017 is going to be Crescent shaped.

Bath’s 2017 is going to be Crescent shaped.

On May 19th, 1767 the foundation stone was laid for the construction of what many would now consider to be Bath’s most iconic Georgian building.


So 2017  has a 250th anniversary to celebrate and – thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund award and other donations – Bath Preservation Trust – in collaboration with other cultural organisations – will be leading a whole host of walks, talks, exhibitions and free public events to mark this architectural date in history.


News of the foundation stone being laid from the Bath Chronicle.

Caroline Kay, Chief Executive of the Trust, outlined plans at an informal meeting of representatives of other cultural organisations, held at the Holburne Museum.


The informal gathering at the Holburne Museum getting a briefing on next year’s anniversary plans.

She is anxious to encourage other bodies to come on board and maybe work in some reference to the Royal Crescent in whatever programme of events they may be planning for next year.


The 250th anniversary logo

She also unveiled the logo the Trust will be using to promote the planned celebrations – which also coincide with the 30th anniversary of Bath’s inscription by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


Bath Preservation Trust Chief Executive Caroline Kay unveils the 250th anniversary logo for the Royal Crescent.

There is much to be finalised and an official launch in the New Year – once the exact HLF funding has been determined  – but here is a rough idea of some of what is in store from a  Bath Preservation Trust briefing:

“No other building represents the architectural innovation, social identity and creative imagination of Georgian Britain better than the Royal Crescent in Bath.  The foundation stone for this masterpiece of 18th century design was laid on 19th May 1767 and since then it has become one of the most famous buildings in Britain. 

It stands as a doorway through which the history of the Georgian period can be discovered and the architecture of the future inspired. 


Via exhibitions, debates, events and artworks the museums of Bath Preservation Trust will lead a year-long city-wide celebration of the Royal Crescent’s 250th anniversary – which also coincides with the 30th anniversary of Bath’s inscription by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Working in collaboration with other cultural organisations the celebrations will include over 70 events so far with lectures, walks, workshops and film screenings. There will be concerts and illuminations – even a grand parade.

I will keep Bath Newseum followers in the picture, but do also keep an eye on the Bath Preservation Trust website