B&NES ‘showings’ for Battle of the Somme movie.

B&NES ‘showings’ for Battle of the Somme movie.

There will be special showings of the 1916 film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ this November to commemorate the WW1 centenary. 

Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Bath & North East Somerset Council are working together to show the UNESCO listed film to audiences across the area.  Shot and screened in 1916, it was the first feature length documentary about war and changed the way both cinema and film was perceived by the public. In the year of its release around 20 million people (almost half the population of Britain at the time) watched ‘The Battle of the Somme’, many hoping to see the image of a loved-one or friend captured on screen.  The film includes footage filmed during the months of the battle, with some re-constructed scenes. 


Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Con., Lansdown), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “The Battle of the Somme’ was shown to packed audiences in cinemas, and it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to watch in 1916.  In Bath, it was shown at the Vaudeville Picture Theatre (opposite Komedia in Westgate Street) and the Picturedrome (long since demolished in Southgate St), with tickets priced at 1s (5p), 7d (3p) and 4d (2p).  One hundred years later, this unique film from IWM’s collection is being shown to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.”

Screenings in Bath, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton and Radstock will all feature a short introduction and free film-notes with more information about the film.  The film (originally silent) is accompanied by beautiful and haunting music composed by Laura Rossi.

See more WW1 Centenary events at www.bathnes.gov.uk/WW1centenary

Screenings in your area: 

Advance booking strongly recommended.


Sunday 13 November 14.30 at Victoria Hall

Tickets from Victoria Hall – £3



Monday 14 November 18.15 at The Little Theatre Cinema

Tickets from Little Theatre Cinema – £5


Midsomer Norton    

Friday 18 November 18.30 at the Town Hall

Tickets from Midsomer Norton Community Trust – £3



Thursday 24 November 19.45 at The Space

Tickets from Keynsham Filmworks – £3


The Battle of the Somme is certified PG – 81 minutes

Tickets can be reserved from the individual venues


New Bath roots for suffragettes.

New Bath roots for suffragettes.

My friend Audrey Wood is a fellow member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides and has enjoyed showing people around this city for more than forty years.

She also does regular voluntary work on duty at Bath Abbey, No 1 Royal Crescent and the Victoria Art Gallery – welcoming visitors and answering their questions.


Audrey Woods on duty as a Mayor’s Guide in Abbey Church Yard.

You’d think she had little time for doing much more than putting her feet up with a well-earned cup of tea but no – something else has made her restless – and this concerns some rather special visitors from the past.

Of course Bath is about people as well as Georgian buildings and Roman remains. As a Mayor’s Guide the tours Audrey helps give will often involve pointing out some of the many bronze plaques above doorways which indicate where some of the big names of history may have lived or visited.

Now she’s determined to get proper recognition for a whole group of  early 20th century visitors who helped make history –  by standing up and fighting for their rights.

We’re talking about the Suffragette Movement which campaigned for votes for women in the years leading up to the First World War.

Bath was not a major centre of protest and had little of the activist displays seen in London and other cities but it did play its part in helping some of the women involved in this fight for equal voting rights

The Blathwayt family who lived at Eagle House in Batheaston offered their home to suffragettes who wanted to recuperate from the harsh treatment they received when imprisoned for their political activism in support of votes for women. Many of them were force-fed when on hunger strike to protest against their conditions.


Suffragettes Laura Ainsworth & Charlotte Marsh planting a tree at Eagle House in 1911 © Bath in Time

At Eagle House the suffragettes were encouraged to plant a tree in the grounds. There were 60 planted and they flourished in the care of Mrs Blathwayt who also underplanted them with flowers and shrubs in the colours of the Suffragette Movement.

These colours are purple for dignity, white for purity and green for hope. It is – apparently – a myth that green meant GIVE , white WOMEN and violet VOTES.

This historic arboretum made way for a housing estate in 1960 – although one towering Austrian Pine does remain.

Former B&NES Councillor and Heritage Champion Bryan Chalker – having found out about the story – arranged (with others) to have three new trees planted to commemorate the suffragettes at Eagle House.

They were planted in Alice Park, Royal Victoria Park and Bath Spa University in March 2011.

Audrey Woods

Audrey Woods beside the young pine tree in Royal Victoria Park. This was taken a couple of years ago.

However Audrey has been anxious to ensure the trees continue to prosper and that there are notices nearby to tell people why they were planted.

She had no idea if the tree at Bath Spa was still alive, was unhappy about the condition and location of the tree in Victoria Park and was worried about wire encasing the fir in Alice Park.

Now the University has sent her some good news. The tree there is alive and well and they sent a picture to prove it.


The Suffragette cedar (L) at Newton Park


The Suffragette tree in Alice Park.

Meanwhile, the tree in Victoria Park is going to be replaced and re-positioned just inside the entrance to the Botanical Gardens where it will replace a fallen champion tree.

Meanwhile, the wire has already been taken off the tree in Alice Park.


The plaque prior to polishing.

Audrey’s last task is to find someone who would be able to give the brass plaque in front of the Alice Park tree a regular polish so people can read the inscription.


A first attempt!

Here are ‘before and after’ shots – showing my meagre efforts. If anyone who is a regular visitor to the park can help – Audrey would love to hear from you.

Happy 50th for Bath Uni

Happy 50th for Bath Uni

A Golden Anniversary service at Bath Abbey, a campus-based Party on the Parade and a rugby match at ‘The Rec’ are just three of the ways the University of Bath will be celebrating its 50th anniversary today – Tuesday, October 25th.

As part of a special year long programme of  anniversary events – since receiving its Royal Charter in 1966 – today’s celebrations begin in the historic Bath Abbey where staff, students, alumni and invited guests will enjoy a range of performances, music and dance.

Following this, the festivities then make their way onto campus with a Party on the Parade featuring entertainment for staff and students including band performances, dancing and a zip wire.

The University’s Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, The Prince Edward is attending both the Abbey and campus events and will also be cutting a 50th birthday cake to mark the celebrations.

Prince Edward

HRH  Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and Chancellor of Bath University

The festivities finish at Bath Rugby’s iconic ground, The Rec, where the University’s men’s 1st XV rugby union team will aim to continue their impressive unbeaten run in the new BUCS Super Rugby league when they host Leeds Beckett. The match kicks off at 6.30pm, is free to attend and is open to everyone. 

Over the past 50 years, the University has developed an excellent international reputation for conducting world-class research and providing students with exceptional learning and teaching.

It is exactly 50 years since the University of Bath was granted university status in 1966 by Royal Charter, signed by Her Majesty the Queen. Its first Chancellor, Baron Hinton, was installed shortly after during a ceremony in the Bath Assembly Rooms in which a ceremonial mace was presented to the University as a gift from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. 

For half a century the University and its students and staff have played an integral part in the city of Bath. As the city’s second largest employer the University directly employs over 3,100 people whilst its student’s annually spend over 10,000 hours volunteering with local charities and organisations. Last year, the University’s students raised more than £65,000 for local, national and international charities, adding to a total of almost £400,000 in the past five years.

[The archive footage below shows the presentation of the University Mace during the Granting of the Royal Charter Ceremony in 1966]

Identified as the number one university in Europe in the QS ‘Top 50 Under 50’ 2015/16 rankings, and first in the UK for student satisfaction in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2015, Bath continues to be ranked highly in all national league tables.

Nearly 90 per cent of Bath’s research in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) was defined as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. The quality of its research has won The Queen’s Anniversary Prize, twice. 

Today, Bath students continue to be amongst the most satisfied in the UK with a 90 per cent overall satisfaction rating according to the National Student Survey (NSS). The University is also one of the best in the UK for graduate prospects having been ranked seventh nationally by the 2017 Times Good University Guide and best in the South West.

Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, commented: “I am delighted that the University is celebrating this momentous milestone as a vibrant and successful community. Since receiving our Royal Charter, Bath has maintained its position as a University conducting high quality research and providing excellent teaching and we look forward to continuing this for the next 50 years.


Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice Chancellor and President, University of Bath.

“The University’s success is intrinsically linked to the city of Bath. The beautiful location in a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Bath’s excellent infrastructure enable us to attract the best and brightest minds and, in turn, we make a significant contribution to the local economy and community.

Our 50th anniversary programme of events provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our considerable achievements but also say ‘thank you’ to our friends and neighbours in and around the city.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our staff and students whose dedication is an inspiration. It is this real sense of community and collaboration at our university, combined with our natural curiosity and ambition which has led to our success so far and will play a significant role as we look to the future.”


Putting the Mill on stream.

Putting the Mill on stream.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is investing in a new hydro-electric community-owned energy project on the River Avon.

The Council is making a loan to the Old Mill Community Hydro project located at the Old Mill Hotel at Bathampton Weir on the River Avon. The project has been developed by award-winning local community enterprise Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) in partnership with Mongoose Energy.

bathampton weir

The weir at Bathampton Mill

The existing, decorative water wheel at the site (installed c1987) will be replaced with a new modern water wheel, capable of generating enough electricity to meet the annual demand from over 20 typical homes. The new water wheel will include screens to protect fish and eels in the river.

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Our investment into the Old Mill Community Hydro project, which is within my ward, working with local community enterprise BWCE, will help our area make the most of its renewable energy potential. It will also support further local community projects through the Community Fund.”

The Council’s £130,000 loan will cover half the capital costs of the scheme, with the remainder (£131,000) made up by investment through a community share issue.

BWCE’s community-owned energy model means that local people have had the chance to invest relatively small amounts of money in local renewable energy projects through a community share offer. This enables them to own a stake in the company and get a reasonable return on their money.


Bathampton weir

The scheme will contribute towards around 20 megawatts of renewable energy already being generated in Bath and North East Somerset. Collectively this is enough to power over 4,500 homes. 

The scheme will generate an estimated £50,000 funding over its lifetime for BWCE’s Community Fund which, by the end of the year, will have re-invested nearly £100,000 of BWCE’s surplus income back into local community organisations delivering low carbon and fuel poverty reduction projects in Bath and the surrounding area.


The archway that housed the mill’s  original water wheel

Pete Capener, Chair of BWCE, said: “From a standing start in 2010, BWCE will soon become England’s largest community-owned, clean energy company by generating capacity. From the start our relationship with Bath & North East Somerset Council has been a significant factor in that success. We look forward to continue working with the Council in the future to create more opportunities to bring clean energy and ethical investment opportunities to the area.”

The Old Mill Community Hydro scheme is currently under construction and is due to be completed in December.

The Council has carbon reduction and renewable energy generation targets in its Community Energy Strategy and Core Strategy. This latest investment is designed to support the delivery of these objectives. 


Riverside crane is a painting marathon.

Riverside crane is a painting marathon.

The volunteers busy painting a crane at Bath Riverside are making good progress on what has now been described as a ‘painting marathon.’


That’s looking better. The roof of the old steam crane gets a protective coating of paint. Thanks to volunteer Peter Dickinson of Monkey Business Arts Consultants for both the work and the photograph!

They are helping to brighten up a ‘city treasure’ under the direction of Bryan Chalker – a Bath man who might just as well have oil and grease running around in his veins instead of blood.


Bryan Chalker posing with a brass plaque that was once attached to the crane but was taken off before it went to Washford. It will be refitted at a ‘topping out’ ceremony when the work is completed. Photo © Jim Warren


An ex-Mayor and councillor, he was Heritage Champion for B&NES during his years of public service and keen to promote the industrial history of a city – better known for Roman remains and Georgian architecture.


Bryan Chalker’s first volunteer was Abi Soady who is a Development Graduate at Crest Nicholson.

Fresh from organising the seventh Bath Industrial Heritage Exhibition – held at BCFC’s Twerton Park home – he’s now leading a group of volunteers who have given up their time to re-paint an industrial landmark.


The steam crane at Bath Riverside

It’s an old steam crane – originally made at the city’s famous Stothert and Pitt factory – and rescued  from the breaker’s yard by Brian – with the help of Crest Nicholson.


Volunteer Mark Wilson is giving the cable and cable drum a protective coat of grease to keep the algae at bay until it can be properly greased. Photo © Jim Warren

They are busy regenerating Bath’s former industrial riverside footprint and installed the crane as a symbol of past meeting future.


Getting down to work

Now they’ve given Bryan a bit of cash to help towards the cost of repainting the crane – and he’s also managed to get the paint for free.


It’s not just the volunteers helping with the job who are coming in for praise – though Bryan is very grateful to them all.


Really starting to notice a difference now with the jib being the last difficult part to tackle.

He told me today – Wednesday, October 26th – that many materials had been very generously donated.

‘The company supplying the special enamel paint is Hempel, based at Llantarnam Park, Cwmbran, South Wales, and they donated a total of 14 cans of primer, thinners and paint, without charge. 

Homebase have given us the loan of a flat-bed trolley to transport the paint back and forth from storage to the crane, and a  local and old-established Bath engineering firm, who want no credit, donated a drum of industrial grease for the jib’s cables.

  Thanks to the poor weather, what began as an estimated 4-day project, has developed into a painting marathon – but we’re slowly getting there. 

The crane is a superb example of Stothert & Pitt’s early engineering skills – built to last – and a credit to Bath’s great industrial past.’




Top to bottom. Mark Wilson, Peter Dickinson and Bryan Chalker. Photo © Rob Cole


Jim Warren chatting to Bryan Chalker while Peter Dickinson is busy with the brush! Photo © Rob Cole



Here’s Bryan in action. Photo © Jim Warren


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  Bryan.Chalker@yahoo.co.uk

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.