Brush up on industry

Brush up on industry

Yesterday – Saturday, September 24th – l popped along to the seventh Industrial Heritage Exhibition  – held at Bath City Football Club in Twerton – and designed to make people aware that this was very much  an industrial and well as a grand residential city.


The idea of organising such events – giving information on everything from brass foundries and coal mines to crane building – came from Bryan Chalker – a former mayor, councillor and B&NES heritage champion.


Organiser, Bryan Chalker.


With seven exhibitions under his belt – and another one planned – l asked him how pleased he was to see the event continue.

If you think you can help Bryan and his gang with repainting the old steam crane at Western Riverside – and have some time to spare next weekend – October 1st and 2nd – you can contact Bryan via

Bringing the East Bath to life.

Bringing the East Bath to life.

The East Baths area of the Roman Baths, adjacent to the famous Great Bath, will be updated in early 2017, with new interactive displays immersing visitors in the sights and sounds of the Roman bath house.

roman baths

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Projections, soundscapes and CGI reconstructions will show the Roman Baths at the height of their popularity as a working, living and leisure space. Roman characters of all social classes will interact with each other and visitors will be invited to watch, listen and step into the Roman Baths as they would have looked in the first to fourth centuries.

Considered by many to be the women’s quarters of the Roman Baths, the East Baths contained a large tepid bath fed by water that flowed through a pipe from the Great Bath. A series of heated rooms developed and grew until the site reached its maximum extent in the fourth century. There was a plunge pool (balneum), hot room (caldarium), warm room (tepidarium) and changing room (apodyterium).

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “These imaginative new displays will transform the East Baths, bringing them to life for visitors of all ages. This is part of an ongoing programme of development designed to enhance the award-winning visitor experience at the Roman Baths.”

The project includes conservation and protection works to the Roman monument, which will be carried out this autumn. The new displays will then be revealed in March 2017.

Event Communications, a leading experience design company, has been appointed to create the new interpretation, while locally-based Sally Strachey Conservation will carry out the conservation works.

Public talk

Members of the public are invited to find out more about the East Baths development at a free talk on Wednesday 26 October 2016, 6.30pm-7.30pm at the Pump Room (entrance via main Abbey Church Yard entrance). There will be a chance to hear presentations and see plans. Just turn up, no need to book.                                                                                                                                      

More working class tales from the riverbank.

More working class tales from the riverbank.

Bath Newseum returns – for a second visit – to the rescue archaeology under way beside the River Avon at Broad Quay – an area due to be reshaped for flood alleviation and also opened up for commercial regeneration.


A set of riverside stone stables with cobbled yard alongside.

It also happens to be where the ordinary working folk of Bath both lived and earned a wage – an area often prone to flooding and considered a notorious slum district.

Members of Wessex Archaeology have been allowed in to record what is left of that environment before it is all swept away as the riverbank is re-modelled.


Oyster shells abound. Once the staple diet of the poor.

This time around there’s a hint that they might still yet find part of the old walled city of Bath’s defences and locate the public bathhouse where people with no washing facilities of their own could clean themselves before going to work in the grand houses on the hill.


One of several wells that have been found on site.

There’s evidence now of the riverside homes of some of those factory owners and the sad tale of two local cats who managed to avoid local wells but fell into a lime vat.

Cai Mason is Senior Project Officer for Wessex Archaeology.


I did approach B&NES with the suggestion of holding some sort of public open day on the site but it doesn’t look as if anything is going to happen along those lines.


Pennant stone slabs are being salvaged and can be used to repair city streets elsewhere.

The archaeologists have little time left now to complete their work before contractors – Alun Griffiths Limited – remove some of Bath’s past to make way for its future.

I will try and make one more visit before the archaeology is completed.

Many of the images used during the interview come from the amazing website

Living legacy to mark WW 1 Centenary

Living legacy to mark WW 1 Centenary

Firs Field at the heart of Combe Down is to be protected forever by Bath & North East Somerset Council as a Centenary Field.  Run by national charity Fields in Trust, in partnership with The Royal British Legion, the Centenary Fields initiative aims to protect war memorial playing fields, parks and green spaces in memory of those who lost their lives during World War 1.

Firs Field at Combe Down

Firs Field at Combe Down.

The Firs Field is the only Centenary Field in Bath and North East Somerset, and this now gives it the added full protection against any development, so that it will remain a green space for enjoyment by residents in perpetuity.

Local group the Friends of Firs Field have organised a community event to dedicate a special Centenary Field plaque on Saturday 17 September at 3.00pm, which will include the reading of names on the Combe Down war memorial 

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Community Sercices, said:  “I’d encourage all local residents to come to this significant celebration of the Firs Field.  It’s a unique way to commemorate the centenary of World War 1 and to mark Combe Down’s long association with Harry Patch, ‘the last surviving Tommy’ who died aged 111 in 2009. 

People may not know that Firs Field was bought by public subscription, inspired by a group of returning WW1 soldiers.”  

Councillor Cherry Beath (Lib Dem, Combe Down), who started this process in 2014  and paid for the plaque from her Ward Councillor Initiative grant allocation, said: “I’m delighted Firs Field now has Centenary Field status and am pleased to have been able to support the Centenary Field bronze plaque.

Firs Field is an extremely important green space, highly valued by the local community.The Friends of Firs Field group should be congratulated for their hard work in overseeing the field and for choosing the plaque.”

Fields in Trust

•           ‘Centenary Fields’ is the new programme from Fields in Trust in partnership with The Royal British Legion from 2014-2018

•           Landowners across the UK can nominate outdoor recreational spaces with a relevant connection to WWI. For example the parks, playing fields, memorial gardens or village halls with grounds could contain a war memorial or have some other significance to WWI.

•           All sites secured through the Centenary Fields programme will receive a commemorative plaque

•           Fields in Trust is a national charity founded in 1925 to improve the protection, provision and quality of outdoor recreational spaces for all communities in the UK

•           HM The Queen has been Patron of Fields in Trust for 60 years; HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was President for 64 years and succeeded by HRH The Duke of Cambridge in 2013. The Duke of Cambridge has also been the Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Fields Challenge

Industrial Heritage Day

Industrial Heritage Day



The seventh annual Bath Industrial Heritage Day is being held at Bath City Football Club in Twerton today –  Saturday, September 24th.

It’s free admission for all and the exhibition is open from 10 am to 4pm.

Amongst the exhibitors will be the Museum of Bath at Work, Cleveland Pools, Somerset Coal Canal, Saltford Brassmill and the Mineral Water Hospital.  

Former Mayor, Councillor and  B&NES Heritage Champion Bryan Chalker will also be bringing along items from his extensive collection.

What future for Bath Record Office

What future for Bath Record Office

‘Bath Record Office is the only South West archive not to have had a refit in the
last 25 years. Its archive stores are full and it currently makes use of any additional
space that becomes available in the Guildhall on an ad hoc basis’.

The above is a quote from a report that will be considered at a meeting of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development, Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel next Tuesday – September 6th – at Bath Guildhall.

Bath Record Office

Bath Record Office at the Guildhall.

It seems – with no financial provision in the future Capitol Programme for any improved arrangement  – that there is little immediate hope of creating a new Local History Centre for B&NES in line with other authorities elsewhere.

The authority has been considering improving things since 2002 when the Culture & Leisure Time Best Value Review recommended that the Council create “a centre of excellence for local and family studies”.

Following on from this, Record Office and Libraries staff undertook a survey of Record Office and Library users which revealed overwhelming support for the creation of a dedicated Local Studies Centre in which the Record Office and the Library’s Local Studies and Special collections would be brought together.

Since then the Council established a working group to draw up a viable vision which would: ‘create a world-class History Centre that brings together the unique Record Office archives and the resources of the local studies library.

In an imaginative new-build or conversion, visible, accessible and situated in the heart of Bath, the History Centre will engage new audiences and improve the service offered to the existing very active user base’.

The working group had to seek advice regarding the likely availability and cost of suitable sites where a History Centre could be built or converted from an existing building.

The report says: ‘It became clear that opportunities for a stand-alone development of this kind, where there is limited space available and land values are high, are unlikely to be found in central Bath.

It was concluded that the best prospect of developing a History Centre would be as part of a larger development or regeneration project. This remains the current position’.

So far the only ‘improvement’ that has been approved is to: ‘amalgamate the Record Office archive collections with the Library’s Local Studies collection in the Guildhall using vacated space in the north wing basement.


The Bath Guildhall

Work on this project is under way but it is not seen as a long-term solution to the need for a Local History Centre fit for the 21st century’.

The report says the public appetite for information about building history and genealogy has never been strong – ‘driven in part by TV programmes about building restoration projects and family history.

Despite being home to a ‘Designated’ collection, the Record Office does not meet all the requirements of TNA’s Standard for Record Repositories. It scores very low in premises, facilities and governance, although it is approved to hold public records on TNA’s behalf.

However in CIPFA surveys the quality of public service at Bath Record Office has been voted by users the best of any archive in the South West region’.

B&NES is lagging behind many other authorities who through HLF grants or links with universities have managed to create ‘centres of excellence where their collections are stored in optimum conditions to ensure their preservation in perpetuity, and where people can study them in secure and user-friendly search rooms’.

The report concludes: ‘A single Local History Centre is the preferred choice of service users and stakeholders. It would achieve efficiencies and economies of scale and would provide 7 the storage conditions that the archive collections need and the search facilities that the service users deserve and have become accustomed to elsewhere’.

It remains to be seen whether there is the will or the financial means to take things any further on down the road towards such a Centre for B&NES in the very near future.

Also whether any existing central building such as the Guildhall, the old King Edward’s School site or even the Mineral Water Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases could be utilised to house such an undertaking.


A different Bath uncovered.

A different Bath uncovered.

Tourists flock to Bath in their millions to gaze upon our unique Georgian showpieces that – with the help of our well-preserved Roman remains – have helped earned the city its World Heritage status.

However, the homes and public spaces of many of the ordinary people of Bath – the men and women  who helped build and run these elegant homes erected to house the 18th century’s super-rich – have not been so well preserved.

P1150824 (1)

Archaeologists have uncovered the slipway end of Avon Street.

As part of the preparation work being undertaken to re-model a section of the Avon’s riverbank through the lower part of the city – archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology have been called in to sift through some of the top 18th and 19th century layers of an area that was home to crowded tenement houses, industry, beer houses and public baths.


The bar floor of what was the Duke of York beer house.

An area of deprivation with a reputation for violence and prostitution – and one prone to major flooding.

The archaeology has to be completed before the winter and the chance of more swollen river waters overflowing.

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A stable block and an area that ended its working life as a scrap yard.

Ironically a job that has to be finished so that contractors Alun Griffiths Limited can start re-modelling the bank – as part of a flood alleviation scheme which will also open up the Broad Quays area for redevelopment.

According to the contractor’s website – – the project is known as Bath Quays Waterside.

‘The Bath Quays Waterside Project will put in place essential flood mitigation and flood defence works to the north and south banks of the river between Churchill Bridge and Midland Bridge. In summary the plan will:

Provide the flood mitigation to enable the redevelopment of the Bath Quays and Manvers Street sites

Significantly widen the north bank to up to 15m wide at the lower tow-path level between Churchill Bridge and Green Park to move water through this area more quickly in flood conditions.

This would require that Green Park Road is diverted away from the riverside northwards to link up with Corn Street creating the major opportunity to open up the riverside to the city

Install new flood walls and raise existing river walls on the south side of the river between Churchill Bridge and Midland Bridge

Improving flood defences on existing buildings fronting onto the river along the Lower Bristol Road’.

There’s more detailed information on the Council’s website at


The top entrance to a well that must also be investigated.

Bath Newseum has been allowed in to see what has been uncovered so far in this archaeological ‘rescue dig’ and has been speaking to the Senior Project Officer for Wessex Archaeology – Cai Mason.

It’s hoped there might be some sort of public ‘open day’ of part of the site so that people can see for themselves what has been uncovered and before it is all swept away.

Many of the historic images used in this report come from the resources of Bath in Time – – a site your Director is pleased to promote.


Evidence of crowded housing blocks that must have flooded frequently over the years.