Raise a flag​ for Bath

Raise a flag​ for Bath

Back in the 18th century, when Thomas Baldwin built the Guildhall, Bath was very much a city in its own right. The current Bath-stone building replaced a Stuart Guildhall, which itself replaced an earlier Tudor structure.


The Bath Guildhall

For centuries this has been the town hall and the residence of the Mayor of Bath. The current one – Cllr Ian Gilchrist – became the 790th mayor of the city when he was elected last June.

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The Mayor of Bath, Cllr Ian Gilchrist.

Bath was made a County Borough in 1889 and remained a city council until the demise of Avon and the arrival of the B&NES authority in 1996.

The Mayor is just a figurehead now – an ambassador for Bath – a civic leader with no real power but a rallying point for those with pride in their city.

A few months ago l was wonder why Bath didn’t have its own flag. You’ll see a Union flag and a rather limp logo for B&NES fluttering in the breeze above the city but – though there is a spare pole – no city flag.


The empty flagpole on the Guildhall roof.

A bit of digging and l discover there is a flag – bearing the city’s coat of arms – but as the Guildhall is now the town hall for the whole of Bath and North East Somerset – it wouldn’t be appropriate to fly it above the building.

Unofficially, l have been told it is now regarded as the Mayor of Bath’s flag but – as the Mayor’s Parlour is STILL housed in the Guildhall – why can’t it fly on the roof in his ( or her) name?

Asking Bath Abbey to fly it on the day that the Mayor Making ceremony is happening within is also a good idea!


bath abbey

Bath Abbey


I don’t think it is a bad thing to encourage people to take pride in the city of Bath. Indeed l have set out to fly the flag on my own flagpole at home.

I went to see Mr David Dixon at Minuteman Press in Walcot Street – himself a former councillor and now Honary Alderman – who very kindly ran me a little number from his stored image of the city’s coat of arms.


Hon Alderman David Dixon holding the ‘official’ City of Bath flag he ‘ran off’ for me at Minuteman Press.

I am told you can’t copyright this flag because there are so many versions of the city’s coat of arms decorating various parts of the city – but l was also told you need the permission of the Mayor and his fellow Charter Trustees if you want to hoist your own version on high.


This one is a bit different.

I sent an email a few weeks ago and am waiting to hear back.


Another version.

Many Batb visitors buy souvenir flags when they are in the city. I am also hoping there might be a City of Bath flag on the racks soon for them to take away.

The version l have was featured in a previous article on Bath Newseum. Here is the text.

“You’ll come across various visual interpretations of Bath’s coat of arms around the city but the one l am showing you is based on the earliest depiction from 1568 in William Smith’s Particular Description of England – now in the British Museum.


The official one!

The ownership of the crest is actually unclear as there is no longer a Bath City Council – the city is now part of a unitary authority which does not display the crest on its documents or website.

Let’s take you through the coat of arms from bottom to top.

The motto – Aqua Sulis or Waters of Sulus – is the Roman name for Bath.

A lion and a bear hold up the shield and stand on oak branches with acorns which are linked to King Bladud – the legendary founder of Bath – and the man feeding his pigs acorns when they ran off to discover the steaming mud and thermal waters of the hot springs.

The lion stands for bravery, valour, strength and royalty. The bear for strength, cunning and ferocity in the protection of one’s kindred.


Another version.

The shield depicts the town wall, the mineral springs and River Avon and the sword of St Paul – one of the patron saints of Bath Abbey – which is also the town’s parish church.

The lion and bear also display the crossed sword and keys – representing both patron saints. St Peter – who held the keys to the kingdom of Heaven – shares the protection of the Abbey with St Paul.


And another version

Above them, the crown of King Edgar – first king of all England – is held aloft by the arms of St Dunstan who performed his coronation in Bath in 973 AD.”




Memorial mystery solved

Memorial mystery solved

I wasn’t too sure about what was going on regarding Bath’s War Memorial which is sited at the town entrance to Royal Victoria Park.


Bath’s war memorial at the town end entrance to Royal Victoria Park.

It looked like one of the panels is missing?  The answer is on the B&NES website.

“Cleaning work and minor repairs are currently being carried out on Bath’s War Memorial ahead of the centenary of the end of the First World War when the city will honour those whose names are recorded on it.

The work has started on the memorial which is at the entrance to the Royal Victoria Park, in Royal Avenue. ”

Still think it might be a good idea to post a notice at the memorial to explain what is happening.


What’s happened to our War Memorial – is there a plaque missing?

Meanwhile, l was getting to know a young urban gull at close quarters this morning – perched as it was on the balustrade at Grand Parade and beside Pulteney Bridge and Weir.


Interesting to see that this young gull fledgeling has been tagged twice. What’s this all about?

Noticed that both its legs had been tagged. I am told the B&NES gull team don’t do this sort of thing so maybe someone may know where this bird has come from?

New pump for Laura Place​ fountain​

New pump for Laura Place​ fountain​

It’s official. The reason why the fountain in Laura Place is not operating. It needs a new pump.


Filled but not functioning?

I bumped into the contractors filling the bowl as part of the fountain’s recommissioning after its winter isolation. Come time to flick the switch and nothing happened.

It needs a new pump. As far as Bath Newseum is concerned it needs a kind sponsor to spend some money on what is a slowly disintegrating poor excuse of a spectacle to help celebrate this city of waters.

I will try and let you know when the fountain is working again. In the meantime, a reminder of what it looks like in action!



Celebrating​ World Heritage Day!

Celebrating​ World Heritage Day!

Roman soldiers will be setting up camp outside Bath’s Royal Crescent as part of this year’s World Heritage Day celebrations, which will take place on Sunday 22 April 2018, 11am-3pm in Royal Victoria Park.

Visitors will be able to enjoy Roman military re-enactments by The Ermine Street Guard and explore their camp throughout the day. There will be special demonstrations of Roman weaponry and manoeuvres at 11.30am and 2pm.


The Romans are coming!

Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “Having a Roman re-enactment in front of the Georgian Royal Crescent provides a perfect link between the two historical eras that put Bath on the UNESCO World Heritage list. This should be a fun day out for people of all ages, and a great opportunity to celebrate and discover more about our city’s amazing heritage.”No 1 Royal Crescent

No.1 Royal Crescent will be offering free entry to Bath and North East Somerset residents with a Discovery Card on the day. Costumed characters will welcome visitors and there will be a chance to handle original Georgian objects.

The Herschel Museum of Astronomy will have a stand at the event, where space enthusiasts of all ages will be able to view the sun through a solar telescope, take part in fun, space-themed activities, and even dress up as famous Georgian astronomers William and Caroline Herschel.

assembly rooms

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

To appreciate one of Bath’s Georgian gems, visitors will be invited to explore the Assembly Rooms, which opened in 1771 to offer entertainment for fashionable visitors to the spa city. The rooms will be open free of charge from 10.30am to 5pm.

The Mayor of Bath’s Honorary Guides will be leading free walks around the Upper Town and shorter guided strolls along the Royal Crescent.

A short walking trail designed by a Bath Spa University Heritage Management student will also be piloted during the day. Copies of the trail will be available from the World Heritage stand.

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Our Tuesday morning gathering – outside​ the Pump Room at 10.30 am.

As well as celebrating Bath’s past, World Heritage Day will look to the future, with a chance to hear the latest news from major heritage projects in the city.

Teams from the Archway Project, Bath Abbey Footprint and Cleveland Pools Trust will be at the event – in front of the Royal Crescent – with displays about their plans.


Elsewhere in the city, Sydney Gardens will host a special Community Day (2-5pm) with activities and stalls and a chance to find out about plans for the park’s development.

Admission to the World Heritage Day event is free. For full details please visit www.bathworldheritage.org.uk/events.

For your information:

The City of Bath was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Bath is one of only two cities in Europe for which the entire urban area has World Heritage Status (the other is Venice).

The six reasons why Bath was designated as a World Heritage Site are: the Roman remains, the hot springs, the 18th-century architecture, the 18th-century town planning, the green setting of the city, and the social setting of the 18th-century spa resort.

Bath’s wonder woman!

Bath’s wonder woman!

Putting aside its World Heritage status – earned for Roman remains and Georgian architecture – Bath can also boast of the part it played in mapping the heavens.

Brother and sister – William and Caroline Herschel conducted years of astronomical research from the garden of their Bath home in New King Street.

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William and Caroline polishing a lens .

William can claim the discovery of the planet Uranus or the Georgian Star as he first called it – after George the Third.

But his sister was breaking new ground herself while she studied the heavens.

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She succeeded in claiming a rightful place in scientific circles through passion and dedication – during times when intelligence in women was frequently disregarded – and is credited with the discovery of several comets and became a significant astronomer in her own right. She was the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.Wonder Women A4 poster v2

Only fitting in a year when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of votes for women, that the Herschel Museum of Astronomy – which now occupies the house in New King Street – should be holding a special exhibition dedicated to Caroline.Wonder Woman Comic Issue 51

Inspired by a 1950s issue of Wonder Woman which featured Caroline Herschel as part of a series of Wonder Women of History, this exhibition celebrates modern-day role models in space and engineering who are changing the way we see the world, and beyond.

In the exhibition Wonder Women of Space we have invited four women at various points in their careers in astrophysics, astronomy and space engineering to choose their favourite object from the museum’s collection, and share what inspires them about space and how they would inspire the next generation of scientists.

This exhibition is supported by a programme of associated talks and activities – including this one at the BRSLI in Queen Square.


An evening talk by Dr Emily Winterburn, academic, author and former Curator of Astronomy at Royal Observatory Greenwich. Based on her book, she will consider Caroline Herschel and her various tactics for encouraging support for her work. Between 1788 and 1797 Caroline discovered comets, became the first woman to be published in the journal of the Royal Society and assisted her brother in his research. Women had tried to get their work heard before, indeed all over Europe there were women quietly working in science, more often than not silently, and unacknowledged for their male relatives; Caroline, however, was the first to get her voice truly heard. In this talk, Emily will focus on the beginning of her story, her very first, tentative steps into the world of scientific publication. Would she judge it well? Or fall to ridicule or condensation as so many of her predecessors had done? Tickets £4 / £2 for students and if a member of BRLSI or William Herschel Society.


Dr Amy Frost, Senior Curator, Bath Preservation Trust says: “In the year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of votes for women, this exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary role Caroline Herschel played in breaking through the barrier of a male-dominated scientific community, and how she continues to inspire women in science today.”
Prof Carole Mundell, Head of Department of Physics, University of Bath added:

“The study of space and our place in the Universe is as exciting and important as it was in Caroline Herschel’s day. The Wonder Women of Space exhibition celebrates the role of women scientists and engineers who are advancing the frontiers of knowledge and continue the Herschel legacy. I am thrilled and honoured to be included with such talented women, and I can’t wait to visit the Herschel Museum to see the exhibition.”

About The Herschel Museum
The Herschel Museum is one of four museums run by the Bath Preservation Trust. It is dedicated to the many achievements of the Herschels, who were distinguished astronomers as well as talented musicians. It was from this house, using a telescope of his own design that William discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. His observations helped to double the known size of the solar system. The house is Georgian, built c 1764.

About Caroline Herschel
Initially acknowledged as her brother Williams’ ‘astronomical assistant’ Caroline soon gained a reputation as a pioneering astronomer in her own right and was the first women to discover a comet (in 1786). From that time she because the first woman to be paid for scientific services, officially employed by King George III, and went on to discover seven more as well as 14 nebulae. She received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1828 and received an honorary membership into the Royal Society, before her death aged 97.

The Museum is open Monday – Friday from 1pm – 5pm
Weekends and Bank Holidays 10am – 5pm
Entrance to the exhibition is included with admission tickets

Pools Trust is​ back in the swim.

Pools Trust is​ back in the swim.

It wasn’t the best of presents to receive just before Christmas. Cleveland Pools Trust and their many supporters ended 2017 on a real downer after hearing that their application for Heritage Lottery funding to restore these unique pools had been rejected.

However, the HLF held out a glimmer of hope when – at a meeting with the Trust in January this year – officials confirmed that they considered the approved plans set out a really strong foundation for the future of the pools – but there were outstanding issues that needed managing first.


Cleveland Pools © Cleveland Pools Trust

Buoyed on by this the Trust has just submitted another application to the HLF.

A spokesperson told Bath Newseum:

“Since the New Year, the trustees have been working hard to address these issues. Councillors and senior officers of Bath and North East Somerset have committed support and work by Curo to repair the retaining wall on the site is about to start.
On Thursday 15 March the Trust submitted another application to the HLF. This application is the first round and will enable the Trust to prepare and submit a second-round application which, if successful, will release funds to carry out the restoration of the pools.

If successful with the new submission the programme is as follows:
Achieve HLF approval; December 2018
Confirm project funding; spring 2019
Issue tender documents; autumn 2019
Commence works on site; spring 2020
Open the Pools to the public; summer 2021.
The trustees are extremely grateful for the enthusiasm expressed by supporters and will continue to work with them to achieve a very special facility for local people and visitors. A liaison group of key stakeholders including close neighbours will be established under an independent chair, to work with the Trust and contractors to ensure that the construction period goes as smoothly as possible.
Chair of the Trust, Paul Simons, said: “The Cleveland Pools Trust has been delighted with the re-affirmation of support for the project from its many hundreds of enthusiasts: local residents and volunteers, swimmers, families and schools, heritage campaigners, and those who have pledged to support the project financially. We are determined to work with them to achieve a truly remarkable and unique facility”.
For your further information:

The Cleveland Pools Trust has been running a campaign to save the 200-year-old riverside pools on the eastern edge of Bath in Somerset for 13 years.
The Cleveland Pools are the oldest surviving open-air public swimming pools in the UK. Their rich social history dates back to the Regency period during King George III’s reign. ‘The Cleveland Pleasure Baths’ – as they were known for many years – were opened originally in 1817 to gentlemen bathers only, funded with private subscriptions from ‘the great and the good’ of Bath.
The Cleveland Pools site is listed Grade 2-star by Historic England and is one of only two buildings situated in the World Heritage Site of the City of Bath that appear on the national ‘Buildings at Risk’ register.
Plans are to include a 25-metre pool and a smaller children’s pool which would both be heated during the summer months. A Kiosk cafe and terrace are also proposed, along with full access for those with impaired mobility. On-site works would have been due to commence in November 2018 for an Easter 2020 completion.
The scheme has received overwhelming public support which demonstrates the huge demand for outdoor swimming to be restored to the citizens of Bath and North East Somerset.
The scheme for restoration has been granted full planning permission and listed building consent by Bath & North East Somerset Council. The council is also the owner of the site.
Look up their website – www.clevelandpools.org.uk. 



American Museum goes to war.

American Museum goes to war.


A radiator leak – which has effectively closed the main house until later in May – hasn’t stopped the American Museum opening at least some of its doors – with a strong and very visual exhibition – in time for Easter.

Last night – Wednesday. March 28th – was preview night at The Exhibition Hall for a commemorative display marking the centenary of America’s involvement in World War I.

The museum, which is based at Claverton Manor  – the place where Winston Churchill made his first political speech – is hosting ‘Side by Side: America and World War I’; an exhibition that seeks to tell the stories of ordinary Americans and their extraordinary impact on the war effort.

It’s a subject that is surely going to encourage more males to visit the only American museum anywhere in the UK.

Watch recovered from the wreck of RMS Lusitania - American Museum Side By Side Exhibtition - Peter Hall

The watch recovered from the wreck of RMS Lusitania.

It’s also the museum’s first interactive exhibition and one with some extremely rare artefacts on display. Included amongst them is a watch recovered from the wreck of RMS Lusitania.

The ship was torpedoed by the Germans in 1915, and over a thousand people lost their lives, including 128 neutral American citizens.


This star item is joined by a Purple Heart medal, awarded to the father of one of the museum’s two founders, Captain Alexander Pratt (1883-1947)

Purple Heart medal 4 - American Museum Side By Side Exhibtition - Peter Hall

A Purple Heart medal

The exhibition also includes some items which have previously not been on public display, such as a family archive, which includes a pair of French baby booties sent home by a US soldier to his pregnant wife.

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Each visitor to the exhibition will be given a personnel file, which details the war experience of a real person. These files include the stories of those often left out of America’s World War I history; namely women, African Americans, and Native Americans.


Head of Visitor Experience, Jon Ducker said, “We really want visitors to feel the personal impact of the war, and also to hear the experiences of those that have been forgotten. There are some amazing accounts of immense bravery from the Native and African American communities which have never been heard.”

There are interactive spaces, including a field hospital and a life-size model of a French Renault FT17 tank, which was used by the Americans on the Western Front.



The man in army uniform is Stephen ‘Abs’ Wisdom – the man who built this replica tank!


The overwhelming focus is on the personal experiences of war through a number of primary sources including newspaper articles and soldiers’ letters, as well as artistic responses such as popular songs, novels by the likes of Ernest Hemmingway and prints by Montgomery Flagg and Kerr Eby.


Uncle Sam

Chief Curator, Kate Hebert said, “Our exhibition will explore the subtleties of how America joining the conflict helped to end the stalemate and bring about the end of the war, challenging the preconceptions of both British and American audiences.

While the military impact of America’s involvement in World War I may still be a matter for debate among historians, what is certain is that the war had an irreversible impact on America: Civil Rights, universal suffrage, and world politics.”


Kate has co-curated this vivid and interesting exhibition with Cathryn Spencer who spoke to Bath Newseum about why they had chosen this subject for their slightly-delayed 2018 season.

America joined the war in April 1917, and troops engaged in their first major land battle in May 1918, helping the Allies bring the war to its close on 11 November 1918. Despite their relatively short participation over 53,400 Americans were killed in action, an average of 820 a day.

‘Side by Side: America and World War I’ runs from 29 March 2018 – 28 October 2018. For more information please visit  https://americanmuseum.org   where it says:

“Our WWI exhibition, which commemorates a hundred years since America’s first military involvement in the Great War, together with the Gallery Shop, Folk Art Gallery, Café, East Lawn, and Mount Vernon Garden are open, with a reduced admission fee. Our events programme, subject to any further news about the manor house, will continue as planned.”