What Cleveland Pools Trust want for Christmas.

What Cleveland Pools Trust want for Christmas.

Don’t know what you’re hoping Santa brings you for Christmas but l do know supporters of the Cleveland Pools Trust are hoping it might be a big fat cheque from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Actually, we’ll have to wait to the New Year to find out whether they have been successful in their Stage 2 bid to secure their final £4.1m grant request to help restore this historic open-air lido.

The Trust has released a picture showing a recent visit from representatives of the HLF who spent the day going through plans on site and scrutinising the venture’s business case.

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HLF visitors at the Cleveland Pools with some of the Trust’s supporting team.

In a Christmas message to supporters the Trust said: ” We felt it went well, although we still have to find £141,000 from a revised fundraising target of £869,000. We do have some promising pledges to help bring it down, and the result of the bid in the New Year could make all the difference.”

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The charity chalet is next to the taxi rank in Orange Grove.

In the meantime, the Trust has been given the charity chalet at the Bath Christmas Market on Sunday, November 265th from 10 am to 6pm to sell a range of merchandise including the brand new Christmas card “Snowman at the Pools’ which has been designed by graphic artist, Catherine Phelps.

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The new ‘Snowman at the Pools’ card.

Going underground.

Going underground.

I joined around a dozen Bath traders from the York Street area last night on a fact-finding mission – above and below ground level.


Our traders are in Swallow Street and outside the old laundry building.

These are business people who share their location with the Roman Baths complex – one of the city’s main tourist attractions – and a valuable source of revenue for our cash-strapped local authority.


In the distant middle are Stephen Bird – Head of Heritage Services – on the left and the Roman Baths Manager, Stephen Clews on the right. They are surrounded by York Street traders and starting their tour of the old spa building on the corner of Swallow Street. The ground floor is currently let as a shop selling leather furniture.

In the new year, a major project gets underway to extend the ruins visible to the public and create a World Heritage Centre and Roman Baths Learning Centre that will show people why Bath is so special and inspire them to go out and explore the archaeology and architecture that has given the city World Heritage status.

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An image taken from the Roman Baths website at http://www.romanbaths.co.uk

Along with Venice,  we are one of only two Europeans cities to be awarded this UNESCO accolade.

York Street

The decorative archway in York Street

It’s officially called The Archway Project – after the decorative stone bridge across York Street which was built to hide the pipes carrying spa water back and forth to the former Victorian Spa building and city laundry that will now be converted.

While this operation will be costing five million – with the help of a 3.4 million pound Heritage Lottery Fund donation – the Council is also faced with an additional expense.


Some of the massive beams supporting the road above.

Clearing the passages under York Street – to prepare for next year – revealed there was a problem with the beams supporting the road. Water – seeping through from the surface – has been eating away at the supports and many of them will need strengthening or replacing.


There’s plenty of evidence in the passageway under York Street of the damaging water seeping through from above.

On top of this, the road itself will have to come up so a waterproof membrane can be laid to stop any further ingress.

All of this is going to be disruptive to neighbouring traders who – while recognising the benefits of an increased footfall in the future – will have to put up with a certain amount of construction work outside their doors for several years.

Meanwhile, the Roman Baths isn’t the only major body getting work done from next year. Neighbouring Bath Abbey will begin the task of taking up its floor – section by section – for stabilisation work and installing a new heating system and other facilities.


Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths are located next to each other.


There’s going to be construction traffic everywhere and traders were not slow to voice their concerns and ask to be involved in the planning of the operation.

Kelvin Packer – Group Manager for Highways and Traffic – told them it would take around six weeks to do the road and that they would work with traders to minimise disruption. He assured them that they would not end up with a huge hole in York Street and that the strengthening work would be done from below.

While it was the Council’s policy to make Bath as pedestrian and cycle-friendly as possible – and limit traffic – without the repairs being carried out it was doubtful if the street could continue to support heavy vehicles like fire appliances or rubbish lorries.

Mr Packer said the Council had a duty to inspect its basements and cellars on a regular basis. As this is a city built on basements and cellars maybe everyone else should so do too. How long before a bus or coach goes through one?

While Stephen Bird – who is Head of Heritage Services – gave a preliminary introduction to the project – it was Stephen Clews – the Roman Baths and Pump Room Manager – who took us on a tour of the passageway under York Street.


Archaeologists will also be able to sift through an untouched historical layer of earth built up over the centuries.

Here there has been a massive emptying operation of heavy Roman masonry to clear the site. In January archaeologists will begin a three-month dig. The main contractor will then get down to business at Easter.

Bath Newseum caught up with Stephen to tell us more.


Next year’s timetable begins with three months worth of underground archaeology and then work on repairing the road beams will take place between April and August.

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An image taken from the Roman Baths website at wwww.romanbaths.co.uk

The above groundwork – and that includes creating the World Heritage Centre and other educational resources will being in June and run through to May 2019. The additional archaeological facilities – a Roman exercise yard and a specially heated room called a Laconicum – will be opened to the public in July 2019.

Find out more via www.romanbaths.co.uk





New role for the Saw Close.

New role for the Saw Close.

Newly erected cycle parking and wooden benches is a very obvious clue to the way B&NES views the new-look Saw Close.


The new cycle racks and benches appearing in the re-modelled Saw Close.

While no date has been given for the opening of the food outlets, boutique hotel and casino that will be occupying the new development – now nestling between the old Blue School and what’s left of the Palace Theatre – the open space outside is rapidly taking shape.


The bigger picture.The Flemish architectural flavour of the old Blue Coat School meets Art Deco- styled cubism. The two share a coating of Bath stone. Incidentally – talking of paved surfaces – the Romans got here first. An ancient tessellated pavement is preserved within the Blue Coat School.

There’s a big cloth information sheet – fixed to a part of the temporary fencing – which explains the Council’s aims.

It says it wants to ‘reduce congestion and allow people to move around more freely in Bath. This will provide greater opportunities for economic growth and increase social vitality while enhancing the city’s character.


Here’s where you can read what is going on.

This project seeks to re-establish Saw Close as a key public space with a greater focus on cyclist and pedestrian needs. The aim is for people to use this shared space courteously and considerately.

The street environments will be improved with materials appropriate to the historic nature of Bath including new street furniture such as public seating and cycle parking.’

One would hope the increased ‘social vitality’ doesn’t just refer to any anti-social effects of the alcohol-fuelled night-time economy and that – somewhere in this new space – they will find room to explain why it is called the Saw Close and credit its history.


Coming up into the Saw Close space with the Theatre Royal top left.

The Georgian building boom may have made Ralph Allen a rich man – as it consumed the stone from his quarries – but terraces and crescents needed wood too – to lay floors and support roofs.

Here’s where pits were dug and felled trees cut up by two men with a big saw. One in the pit and the other on top. It’s where we get the phrase ‘ gaining the upper hand ‘ by the way.

Putting Sydney Gardens out to grass.

Putting Sydney Gardens out to grass.

Let me start by saying that l know the guys from the city’s parks department do a great job – with ever-decreasing funds – but it’s a fact of life that more time and effort is going to go into somewhere like Parade Gardens than a recreational space further away from the main tourist trail.


Sydney Gardens displaying its autumnal glory.

Sydney Gardens is an historic, former Georgian Vauxhall that is full of mature trees currently crowned in autumnal glory.

You may know that  an application for a major HLF grant is currently being prepared that would help invigorate the space and equip it for life as a contemporary park to be enjoyed by all.

That’s a convoluted way of saying that – however much money they throw at it – it won’t be restored to anything like the way it originally was because life and society has changed.

While the city waits for some good news about a grant the gardens continue to deteriorate.


Grass tracks show where the mower has been.

The grass now gets cut by the mowing team whose machines go from park to park. I have noticed there is no great attention to detail in some places.


Not all the grass has been mown. Nothing seems to be done by hand any more. Note the squashed doggy poo bag!

Here is where the mower has been and a lot of the grass seems to have escaped the knife.

They have got rid of the permanent ‘park keeper’ who kept an eye on things and gave the gardens the benefit of a ‘personal touch.’


A roof garden is taking hold at the temple.

The roof of the temple is weed bound and boundary walls are crumbling.


The edging to the retaining wall beside the top steps has crumbled away.

Maybe Bathonians should roll up their sleeves and take charge. Silly me – doesn’t that involve taking pride in our community?

12 days of Archway

12 days of Archway

The Roman Bath’s Archway Project is offering people the opportunity of giving a Christmas present with a difference this year.

From 1 December to 12 December 2017, the Roman Baths Foundation will run a Christmas appeal called ‘12 days of Archway’ to support the Project.

Archway Project Long Section

A long section through the Archway Project scheme.

Instead of sending a Christmas card, people can sponsor a virtual tile from £5 and leave their mark on the Archway Project. Tiles can be customised with a personal Christmas greeting. Sponsoring a tile will help to open up an area of the Roman Baths not seen by the wider public before.

Alternatively, adopting a Roman Stone could be a unique gift for a friend or relative. There are three adoption levels, ranging from £100 to £1,000. Stone adopters may receive regular updates about the stones, invitations to exclusive events and acknowledgement on a donor wall, depending on the level chosen. Adopting a stone will help the National Lottery supported Archway Project to create a fascinating digital learning resource for children and young people to use in the new Learning Centre.

There will be special prizes for people signing up to our newsletter during the appeal period. Prizes will include an afternoon tea for two in The Pump Room; an ‘Above and Below’ tour for two people; and a pair of saver tickets to visit the Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery.

On Friday 8 December, the Archway Project will have a stall at Bath Christmas Market for one day. This will be a chance for people to find out more about the project, to donate or enter the prize draw. There will be festive chocolate coins available to buy, with all proceeds going towards the Archway Project.

The Roman Baths Foundation is a charity set up to raise funds for conservation and education work at the Roman Baths. Raising funds for the Archway Project is its first flagship project.

David Beeton, Chairman of the Roman Baths Foundation, said: “12 days of Archway offers people some exciting gift ideas, and the money raised will help inspire the next generation of archaeologists for years to come.”

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Roman monumental stones ‘scattered’ on the floor. An area the public would get to see.

About the Archway Project

The Archway Project will increase the space dedicated to education at the Roman Baths by 400%. Situated above the former Spa laundry in Swallow Street, two new learning spaces will enable the Roman Baths to develop formal and informal learning programmes, engaging a wide range of communities and audiences.

The Learning Centre will be connected to the Roman Baths by an undercroft that passes through Roman remains beneath York Street. An underground Investigation Zone will provide hands-on access to Roman remains through facilitated learning sessions.

On the ground floor of the Swallow Street building, a 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.


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

The Archway Project will also open up new areas of the Roman Baths to visitors, including a laconicum (sauna) and exercise courtyard.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project has been awarded £3.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

To find out more please visit www.romanbaths.co.uk/archway or come and speak to the Archway Project team at Bath Christmas Market on Friday 8 December.

About the Roman Baths Foundation

The Roman Baths Foundation is an independent charity (No. 1163044) set up to raise funds for conservation and education work at the Roman Baths. The Roman Baths Foundation aims to:

  • promote, preserve, develop and maintain the Roman Baths and Pump Room complex, including all buildings, monuments, collections, structures and archaeological remains and artefacts.
  • advance the education, interest and appreciation of the general public with respect to the Roman Baths.


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. www.hlf.org.uk.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

Above and Below tour

The Above and Below tour takes visitors to some of the tunnels under the Roman Baths and adjacent streets and also gives them an insight into the work being done above ground to transform nearby buildings into a Learning Centre for the Roman Baths and a World Heritage Centre for the city, as part of the Archway Project.


The Pump Room restaurant

Regarded as the social heart of Bath for more than two centuries, The Pump Room is a striking neo-classical salon with a fountain for drinking the hot spa water. The Pump Room restaurant is open daily for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea, with live music by the Pump Room Trio or resident pianist.



A temple of convenience.

A temple of convenience.

Bath’s Sydney Gardens has a long and illustrious history.

Laid out as commercially-run 18th century pleasure grounds –  in which even Jane Austen herself would have strolled – the site was taken over by the old Bath City Council in 1908 and opened to the public.

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The main driveway through Sydney Gardens. 

These days – as we live in an age of austerity – the park has an air of faded glory.

It certainly needs some ‘TLC’ – which hopefully will come as a result of Heritage Lottery funding. An application for nearly four million pounds will be going in next year.

If successful – according to the B&NES website – ‘The funding will be used to restore historic buildings, invest in landscape and garden restoration works, and create new play areas for all ages, over a three year programme (2019 – 21).

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Winter sunshine in Sydney Gardens

Alongside the works, a programme of events and activities around art, nature, horticulture, wildlife, play, sport, archaeology and history will be put on.

The project will celebrate the fascinating history of the gardens, with its Cosmorama, Labyrinth, Merlins Swing, Concerts, Public Breakfasts, Galas and Illuminations.’

Someone who takes a keen interest in all this is Kirsten Elliott – a  local author and historian – who also gives guided walks around the city’s parks.


Kirsten Elliott – author and local historian.

She’s excited about one particular original feature – added when the Council bought the old Georgian ‘Vauxhall’ – but until now hidden and forgotten in the overgrown bushes.

It’s what celebrity author (Lady) Lucinda Lambton – who writes about architecture – would describe as a ‘temple of convenience.’ A cast-iron Edwardian ladies loo.

Kirsten took Bath Newseum along to have a look.

These days Bath’s public loos have been taken over by a private company who provide ‘well-maintained’ facilities that are accessed via a 20 pence piece.

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The existing facilities in Sydney Gardens

We have come a long way since the days of ‘spending a penny’ haven’t we. Out of interest, l can explain where that description of the ‘call of nature’ came from.

It’s all to do with the Great Exhibition – the world’s first trade fair – which opened in Joseph Paxton’s amazing Crystal Palace in 1851.


The Great Exhibition © Wikipedia


Over six million people visited so it was, with some relief l am sure, that the exhibition also featured the UK’s first paid-for flushing toilet when visitors spent one penny to experience a clean toilet seat, a towel, a comb and a shoe shine.

Records show that 675,000 pennies were spent!

Bath Abbey’s walls to tell all.

Bath Abbey’s walls to tell all.


Did you know Bath Abbey’s historic floor and walls are covered with over 1,500 memorial stones each with a different story to tell? Families will be able to discover the fascinating tales behind these ancient stones in the Abbey this October half-term.

As part of Bath Museums Week, members of the public can take part in family-friendly tours of the Abbey’s memorial stones on Monday 23 October; Tuesday 24 October; Wednesday 25 October and Friday 27 October at 10.15am, 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm each day. The tours are 45-minutes long and have been especially tailored for families and children from the age of 7 upwards.


The Abbey floor is covered with memorial – or ledger – stones

Ollie Taylor, the Abbey’s Interpretation Officer, said: “There’s the familiar saying: “If only walls could talk.” In a way, ours can! The Abbey’s walls and floors are lined with over 1,500 historic memorials, each with a different story to tell. These ancient stones commemorate individuals from all walks of life; some grand, some ordinary, some happy, some sad, but all equally fascinating.


“Our Family Friendly Tours is a great way for parents and children alike to find out more about some of the wonderful characters who lived in or visited Bath hundreds of years ago. Through a combination of storytelling, dressing-up and hands-on history, we’re hoping to share these tales in a way that makes history more fun and more alive. We’d love for families going away from these tours to be able to say they’ve enjoyed themselves, and also to have learnt a little about the Abbey’s history, and to share their stories with others.”

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Looking across from Bishop Montague’s tomb.

Bath Abbey’s ‘Family Friendly Tours of the Memorial Stones’ are being held on Monday 23 October; Tuesday 24 October; Wednesday 25 October and Friday 27 October. Tours are free, no booking required, last approx. 40 minutes and begin quarter-past the hour each day at 10.15am, 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm. The tours are free but all visitors are invited to give a donation at the entrance.  The activities are suitable for children over 7 and there is no need to book. However, please note there are limited places and it is on a first come first serve basis.