Making sense of Bath Abbey

Making sense of Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey’s special Saturday attraction this week-end was not to be sniffed at.


Sensory Saturday at Bath Abbey.

Well, actually it was, because sniffing the contents of mystery boxes was one activity you were being asked to do.


Little Ellie tries on the gear!

To mark Disabled Access Day, students from Three Ways School – a community special school in Odd Down, Bath – hosted special drop-in sessions offering the chance to explore the church using all five senses.


Did she recognise the floral perfume?

So as well as smell, we had touch, taste, see and hear to cover. That found young people at the altar explaining ‘breaking bread’ while others tackled the significance of ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ by making sheep.

You were also invited to touch some of the highly coloured garments worn by clergy and listen to the sound of the Abbey choir.

The event was organised by the Abbey’s Interpretation Officer, Dr Oliver Taylor.

Names on a Bath stone wall.

Names on a Bath stone wall.

This is the sad and neglected Georgian building in Broad Street that was – for over two hundred years – a bustling school.

king edwards school

The old King Edward’s School.

It was built in 1754 to house King Edward’s School and in use through to  1990 when the last of the pupils still based there left to  join their already relocated colleagues in a move to the school’s new 14 acre North Road site.

Since then the Grade 11• listed property in the city centre has remained empty. Sold for development – plans to turn it into an hotel or pub/restaurant have so far come to nothing.

The building remains on the ‘Heritage at Risk Register’ though repair work to the roof has at least reduced the risk to the property.

Recently, I was in the car park behind York Buildings and could see the side of the old school wall above the boundary wall of the parking lot.

Etched into its surface – in very neat carved writing – are the names of various people and a range of early 20th century dates alongside them.


The side wall of the old school building.

Are these former pupils with the dates of their time at the school alongside their names? Or maybe teachers who taught in this building?


A closer look at some of the names carved into the Bath stone.

Perhaps someone knows more. I am sure a list of pupils from 1900 onwards would help identify some of the names carved in stone.



That takes the biscuit.

That takes the biscuit.

My thanks to Stephen in Manchester for letting me have the box in which a packet of Bath’s Dr Oliver biscuits were parcel posted to a customer in 1936.


The biscuit box that Stephen of Manchester has kindly given to me.

I cannot read the address – so have no idea where they were destined – but the label clearly bears the famous name of Cater, Stoffell and Fortt Ltd. A  5-star company as far as Bath’s retail history is concerned.


Fortts of Bath clearly shown on the company label.

According to local historian Andrew Hill who has written a history of the firm – entitled Biscuits, Banquets and Bollinger – this was an enterprise whose company name was a byword for quality, service and variety – not only in Bath but throughout the West.


‘Biscuits, Banquets and Bollinger’ – by Andrew Hill.

“It’s proud boast was that it offered everything from fish fingers to foie gras and custard powder to caviar, and it was as much a part of Bath life and landscape as the Abbey and the Pump Room.’


Local historian Andrew Hill who has written a history of the Bath company.

It was James Fortt – third son of William Fortt – the founder of the dynasty – who acquired the rights to make the Original Bath Olivers and turned them into a globally-enjoyed product. He took over a Green Street business that manufactured Olivers and other fancy biscuits.


The postmark on this parcel shows April, 1936.

The dry and unflavoured biscuit had been invented, around 1735,  by Dr William Oliver – a renowned Bath physician – as an antidote to the rich foods normally enjoyed by those coming to the city for ‘the cure’ and the recipe – together with ten sacks of wheat and £100 – bequeathed to his coachman who opened the Green Street business.


The corner shop on Green Street still bearing the roundel of Dr Oliver.

The biscuits had traditionally been made by hand but James Fortt brought in machinery and increased production. He eventually built a brand new factory in Manvers Street and bought premises on the corner of Green Street – opposite St Michaels – to promote the product plus other biscuits and confectionary. A roundel – depicting Dr Oliver – was moved from the old factory up to the new corner shop. It is still there.


The office block – currently being reconstructed – stands on the site of the Fortt’s biscuit factory in Manvers Street

Though damaged in the last world war and affected by several fires,  the Manvers Street factory kept running through to 1962 when Huntley and Palmers bought out the old company and production was transferred to Reading.

The biscuit has changed hands several times but you can still buy Fortt’s Original Bath Oliver Biscuits today.


Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed bedroom returns home to Bath.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed bedroom returns home to Bath.

A suite of furniture designed by the world famous architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh is coming home to Bath – one hundred years after it first arrived.

Designed for the family home of Bath businessman and engineer Sidney Horstmann, the bedroom suite will be re-created in the Museum of Bath at Work as part of a special exhibition that that will run this summer from June to September.


Mackintosh designed the interior for the bedroom and also the furniture in a house that Sidney Horstmann lived in until 1935. His daughter Alison Dunmore was born in one of the beds designed by Mackintosh and had fond memories of growing up in the room, which was her own bedroom.

The Museum has been fortunate in gaining consent from the Victoria & Albert Museum to borrow the furniture for display—furniture that has not been seen for 50 years!

Progress so far:

  • We have secured a grant from the Arts Council to upgrade our Fire and Security system to V&A standards.
  • Bath Spa University School of Art and Design have agreed to design and decorate the bedroom.
  • We have funded the photographing of the furniture and have obtained the necessary reproduction license – from our own resources and generous donations.

We Need Your Help

But we still need financial support to meet the V&A loan costs, transport and insurance and construction of the room …and printing of the catalogue. The cost of the project is £10,000.


Please help this exciting venture—and enable the Museum to reach a new level in the field of regional Museums. 

If you are able to assist with this project and would like to make a donation by cheque would you make the cheque payable to Bath Industrial Heritage Trust Limited and send to:

Museum of Bath at Work

Julian Road, BATH BA1 2RH

If you would like to make a payment by bank transfer the payment details are:

Bank name: Barclays Bank plc

Branch address: Southgate Street Bath

Sort Code: 20-05-06

Account No: 20141615

Account name: Bath Industrial Heritage Trust Limited.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

Stuart Burroughs

Director of the Museum of Bath at Work

The doggy bag that gets left behind!

The doggy bag that gets left behind!


And here’s one placed on top of a wall!

I know l am an old dog with a bone, but what is it with dog owners and poop bags?


The incline up to the towpath.

Walking up the slope from Grosvenor Bridge to the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath, with my partner, we counted EIGHT such ‘filled’ containers tossed to the side.


Spot the poop!

Having at least gone through the motions (forgive the pun) of picking their dog’s poop up – l cannot understand why the public exhibition of responsibility and care cannot extend to taking the contents as far as a bin to dispose of it.

I don’t own a dog and have no idea whether these bags are biodegradable. We are trying to take plastic out of the environment aren’t we?


And here’s one placed on top of a wall!

While we’re up on the towpath can l take issue with the notices that have been erected regarding pedestrian priority. Simple little message regarding bikes ‘giving way’ to people and reducing speed.

Don’t quarrel with that at all but does priority also extend to dog walkers with their pets on or off the lead?


Those on an extendable lead give a cyclist a bit of a problem – when the cable lies across the footpath – while dogs OFF the lead is an obvious hazard – especially when the owner is ON their mobile phone.

And what about joggers? Quite a few of those too in Bath, what with its noble reputation for organised road events. Should a cyclist stop to wave them by?


Does the priority extend also to walkers with dogs on or off leads? Joggers?

The idea of sharing this safe route into town is all a bit half-hearted. There is no effort to encourage cyclists off the London Road and onto this canal-side pathway into Bath.

Tarmac with one side painted green for cyclists would have been a much better idea and, l am sorry, but dogs should be under proper control and on a lead.

Shared spaces don’t work but, if there is going to be any real peace amongst the towpath users, everyone must take responsibility for their actions.


The rusty old rubbish bin at Grosvenor Bridge. The bottom has completely disintegrated.

PS. It really is time the rubbish bin at the London Road end of Grosvenor Bridge was replaced.

The bottom is rusted through. This is a busy old litter bin, as the canal folk come down to put their waste in it too!

Bath Forum vacancies.

Bath Forum vacancies.

The Bath City Forum is looking for three new co-opted members.

In August 2015 Bath & North East Somerset Council established The Bath City Forum to improve engagement with local residents, businesses and other organisations and to address specific city-wide issues and priorities.


The Bath Guildhall

The Forum works to be advisory and consultative but currently holds no delegated decision-making powers. As well as elected councillors from Bath wards of Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Forum also co-opts up to 13 members who demonstrate a willingness to work in partnership to support the aims of Forum. Co-opted members have voting rights on the Forum.

There are currently three vacancies for co-opted members to join the forum. Being a member of the Forum is an opportunity to feed into the Council the views of the city of Bath.

The Forum meets at least three times a year with extra events and working groups as agreed by the Forum. The Forum works with relevant Cabinet members and Officers and reports back both to the Forum and Cabinet as required.

Councillor Bob Goodman, Chairman of the Bath City Forum, said: “The Bath City Forum is a key voice representing the views of residents, community and business networks, so we are keen to hear from talented and enthusiastic people who will help us share information on important issues to Bath & North East Somerset Council. Anyone who thinks they have something to bring to the Forum is encouraged to apply.”

What the role entails

Co-opted membership of the Bath City Forum is a voluntary role which will contribute to the life of the city and its residents. The role description is set out below:

To attend and participate fully in at least three Forum meetings a year

To engage in other events and working groups that may be arranged to follow up on specific actions or themes

Outside of meetings, to act as a conduit between the work of the Forum to residents’, community and business networks

To collaborate with other Forum members in gaining a shared understanding of issues facing the city and potential solutions

To take the lead on specific actions and themes determined by the Forum

To identify areas for innovation and improvement and to work with others to help deliver agreed projects

To champion the City and the work of the Forum

To bring any specialist expertise, knowledge, experience and networks to the work of the Forum

Support will be provided to Forum members, including induction and online resources. Co-opted membership will initially be for one year with the option to extend.

Co-opted members will be required to meet standards set out in the relevant code of conduct, for example relating to declaration of interests.

How to apply

To apply for this role, please complete and return the application form to:  by noon on Thursday, March 2nd.

Applications will be assessed by a panel from the Bath City Forum using the Person Specification for the role.

For any other enquiries from members of the public, please contact Mark Hayward on 01225 396975.  

Further information about the Bath City Forum, the application form and the Terms of Reference are available at the Bath City Forum website  

More information is available by following the Bath City Forum on Twitter: @bath_forum.


Citizen of the Year

Citizen of the Year

The 789th Mayor of Bath (Councillor Paul Crossley) is searching for his Citizen of the Year, who must live in Bath, work here, or belong to a group based in the City.

Cllr Paul Crossley

Cllr Paul Crossley, Mayor of Bath.

The Mayor said, ‘A large percentage of the engagements in the Mayoral year involve me meeting an enormous number of individuals who are dedicated to giving their time freely to help others in the City.  This Award is a public way of acknowledging these achievements and contributions.  I look forward to receiving the nominations as I am sure that most people will know someone whose service to the community at large should be recognised.”

If you know of anyone who deserves an award for their long-term voluntary work or a specific extremely noteworthy act, please complete a nomination form, which is available from the Mayor’s Office at the Guildhall, by emailing  or from web site  Nominations must be returned by 9.00am on Monday 20 March 2017.