More sleeping rough

More sleeping rough

They’re not so easy to spot – in amongst all the festive hustle and bustle – but there are at least  34 homeless people  in Bath who have more to worry about than buying Christmas presents.

That’s the estimated number of those sleeping rough in the annual count – carried  out on a night in November – where outreach workers looked for and spoke to those found sleeping  on the streets.


Of the 34 individuals identified, says a B&NES report, 33 had previously been offered help and assistance to get them off the street; 29 of the 34 were male, five were female, one was under 25 years old.

The number of rough sleepers counted in 2016 was 25, whilst in previous years the number found in 2013 was 33, in 2014 it was 27 and in 2015 it was 22.

Bath & North East Somerset Council commissions a specialist outreach service from Julian House and the Developing Health and Independence (DHI) charity, who work in partnership to support people sleeping rough with the aim of encouraging them into services such as Manvers Street Hostel as a first step towards a more settled and safe life.

On the night the count took place the Manvers Street Hostel, which has 30 beds, was fully occupied. The count has been verified by Homeless Link and is a reliable estimate of the level of rough sleepers in Bath and North East Somerset.

Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative, Midsomer Norton North) Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic & Community Regeneration, said: “The Council takes the issue of rough sleeping very seriously, and even one person sleeping outdoors is one too many. I am therefore saddened to see that the most recent count found a rise in rough sleeping, despite the range of dedicated support the Council and its partners provide for homeless people in Bath and North East Somerset.

“We will be working closely with service users and providers to develop further opportunities to help these individuals off the streets and will be continuing to offer more individually targeted support and help for those identified as sleeping rough in the area.”

Additional beds and extra street outreach work was offered by Julian House this week in response to the very cold weather conditions.

The estimate of rough sleepers was as thorough as possible, with hostels, hospitals and police being asked about people in their care or custody who would otherwise be sleeping outside.

Partnership working between agencies such as the Council, Julian House, DHI, Specialist Drug and Alcohol Service, The Big Issue, Genesis, Southside, the RUH, AWP mental health services the Police and many others will ensure that support continues for rough sleepers.

Services include:

  • Manvers Street Hostel which has 20 direct access and nine move on units.
  • Assertive Outreach Service which has four full-time officers helping people leave the street, nowoffering new drop-in assistance at Lewis House.
  • Report a Rough Sleeper Website for concerns from the public about rough
  • Day Centre held every day at Manvers Street Hostel with hot meals and activities.
  • The Homesearch Register to help people leave supported housing and become independent.
  • Access to private rented housing (Homefinders) to help people pay for advanced rent and deposit.
  • Emergency accommodation in severe weather which provides an overflow for when the Manvers Street Hostel is full at times of extreme cold and wet.
  • Case Management through a multi-agency group called Task and Targeting to share information and identify solutions for entrenched rough sleepers.
  • Strategic Homelessness Partnership of local providers, commissioners and other interested parties considering strategic priorities.



Quays side riverbank re-opens.

Quays side riverbank re-opens.

Initial works to transform the river bank between Churchill Bridge and Green Park have been completed in the latest phase of the ambitious £6.2 million Bath Quays Waterside project.

The scheme when complete will protect more than 100 commercial and residential properties from flooding, support the regeneration of Bath Quays, and reconnect Bath to its riverside.


The re-sculpted bank is designed to let the river flow up it during flood risk periods​. 

Work began early in 2016 with the diversion of Green Park Road, allowing a new south facing park to be created on the river bank, alongside the proposed site for the Bath Quays North development.

The area is now being landscaped, planted, seating installed and new spaces created for activities, benefitting residents, future businesses, workers and visitors.

On the south side of the river, work has been undertaken to provide the first phase of a flood defence between Churchill Bridge and Midland Bridge.

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Pictured at the completion of initial works between Churchill Bridge and Green Park are Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip) Leader of the Council, Councillor Charles Gerrish, Councillor Charles Gerrish, (Conservative, Keynsham North), Cabinet Member for Finance and Efficiency and Councillor Bob Goodman, (Conservatives Combe Down) cabinet member for development and neighbour

Bath & North East Somerset Council has been working in partnership with the Environment Agency on the scheme. Deborah Steadman, from the Environment Agency, said: “We are excited to see public access to the park so that people can see some of the work being undertaken to protect the city and improve access to the river. This is the culmination of several years of planning and hard work from all involved.

Completion of the initial work marks the first milestone in Bath & North East Somerset Council’s multi-million pound flagship regeneration project, Bath Quays. The development will transform this part of the city creating a major new commercial and business district with new office and creative work space, homes and improved public realm that will re-connect Bath to its river.


Pictured are pupils from St Andrew’s Church of England School helping plant the area with l-r Councillor Paul Myers, (Conservative, Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration and Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip) Leader of the Council.

Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip) Leader of the Council said: “The development of Bath Quays will contribute towards our commitment to deliver up to 9,000 new jobs and 3,500 new homes within Bath and North East Somerset. In addition, by enabling new office development, this will also help diversify the council’s estate for the benefit of future generations, creating an ongoing income for the Council that can be reinvested back into supporting local services.”

While the new park will be there for the public to enjoy, its primary function is to accommodate flood water. For safety reasons when there is a risk of flooding, no-entry signs will be used and the area will be closed to the public with bollard and chain barriers. It is anticipated that this could occur several times a year.

Councillor Paul Myers, (Conservative, Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, added: “This work, which included the diversion of Green Park Road northward, away from the river, has created an opportunity to open up the river to the city. It is a major asset and has the potential to make a large contribution to the city’s future both in economic and in leisure terms. It is important however in any river setting that we all keep safe, take care and look out for warnings when the river is in flood.”

Although the initial phase of works on the north bank has been completed, sections of the open space will have to close again to enable regeneration work to continue.  A formal official opening of the Park will be planned for summer 2018.


The final section of flood defence works along the south edge of the river will be undertaken as part of the Bath Quays South development scheme, on the old Newark Works site, envisaged to be completed in 2019.

It’s amaze-ing!

It’s amaze-ing!

Hands up if you haven’t yet heard of the “Sydney Gardens Parks for People Heritage Lottery Fund Project.”

Yeh l know it’s a grand-sounding title, but it’s an ambitious scheme to restore one of Bath’s much-loved public spaces.


The main path through Sydney Gardens

Sydney Gardens has an historic past – it’s the only remaining eighteenth-century pleasure gardens in the country – but it also needs to appeal to the present.

The Project team – a mixture of ‘Friends’, B&NES, local residents’ groups and the Holburne Museum – are preparing stage 2 of a Heritage Lottery bid for over three million pounds which will hopefully secure its future.


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).

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.


This was once the bowling green!

Sydney Gardens has gone through a period of decline.

It’s been sad to see the bowling club close – through a lack of new members – but it was here l caught up with Project Manager Keith Rowe to discover how its now-defunct bowling green is playing its part in planning one possible feature for the new-look gardens.

And – just days later – here’s the first cut of that mini labyrinth with Parks Department works Robert and Steve battling the elements to cut the first outline into the now defunct bowling green.


Parks Department member Robert is behind the mower and Steve on grass cuttings blowing duties.

As you have just heard, the next public consultation open day is on Saturday 25th November from 11.30am to 4.30pm at the Gardeners Lodge, in Sydney Gardens. Come and view the labyrinth and all the latest plans. You can give feedback and share your ideas too.


The scaled-down labyrinth beginning to take shape.

Catch up with the Project via

Keeping up to date

Keeping up to date

In a fast-moving city, it’s hard to take a city street photograph without it being out of date a few months later. Businesses come and go and that seems to be a fact one Bath Newseum follower wants to impress upon the city’s ‘Visit Bath’ organisation.

Jay Gardiner writes:

“Take a look at the Visit Bath site and their “10 Festive shopping experiences in Bath.” It was posted on Twitter on the  9th November.

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The Corridor image on the Visit Bath website.

The last picture – of the Corridor  -shows its age by the store in the photo. When did the T shirt print shop leave?!
This is THE prime agency to promote our city, I thought, and all we are offered is out of date info – in a bid to attract tourists!”

This is the most up to date image l have from a few days ago!


The Corridor – in November 2017!

We’ve bought a ruin!

We’ve bought a ruin!

Apart from their Christian names, l know nothing about Wendy and Tom –  the new owners of a patch of land created from the spoil dug out to build the canal that lies above it.

It’s a sloping plot – covered in mature and self-seeded trees – and also the ruins of a pub and brewery that once attracted people who walked from the London Road –  over Grosvenor Bridge and the River Avon – to this secluded spot beside the Kennet and Avon Canal.


The patch of land – now beside the pathway leading up to the canal towpath.

It’s a route l often take on my bike and there is no longer any above-ground evidence of the pub that had a bowling alley, a fountain in the grounds and a brewery fed by the Hampton Springs.


Wendy was showing me around the site.

Wendy let me onto the site to get some idea of just how big a footprint the old buildings still have. You can still peer into the tops of cellars now filled with more modern rubbish from the many people who have slept rough here.


One of the old cellars – now filled with modern rubbish.

These licensed premises – now all but disappeared – were called The Folly and feature in a book – called Lost Pubs –  written by local historian and author Kirsten Elliott. It’s published by the Akeman Press –

Kirsten said when she and her partner Andrew Swift were researching Bath’s pubs – past and present – they found the Folly very intriguing. The amount of material they discovered was enormous but they could not find a photograph. So far the only known image is a painting by Samuel Poole – done sometime before 1930 – which can be seen at the Victoria Art Gallery.


The Folly Inn and Brewery. A watercolour by Samuel Poole 1929. © Victoria Art Gallery

I know Kirsten – and the land’s new owners – would love to find photographs or personal memories regarding this now vanished public house.

The Folly – according to Lost Pubs – first appears as an unnamed building on Thorp’s 1742 map of Bath. In 1795, when Harcourt Masters published his map of Bath, it appears, as the Folly, and linked by a free ferry with the new pleasure gardens then being created at Grosvenor.

Is this the reason for its name, she asks? Grosvenor Gardens began to be laid out in 1792 – in imitation of Vauxhall in London. Unfortunately, although they could create wonderful spectacles in the gardens themselves, the view across the river was something of an anti-climax.

Taking an old building and turning it into a folly by the addition of eye-catching features would be an ideal way of transforming a rather uninteresting view into a picturesque landscape. This is, at least, Kirsten’s theory.

The building retained the name after the failure of the Grosvenor Pleasure Gardens prior to 1795 and was leased – as a dairy farm – by William Hulbert. The canal cut across the land at the back of the Folly in 1800 which brought a steady flow of people and boats to this previously remote spot. It’s thought Mr Hulbert may have turned part of his land into a tea garden to make some money from this new passing trade

In 1830 Thomas Shew, who lived at the eastern end of Grosvenor and owned the land at the back, constructed a suspension bridge over the River Avon to create a pleasant walk from Walcot to Bathampton and back along the river and canal. This probably made the path by the Folly busier than ever.

In 1839 Matthew Hulbert, William’s son, entered into an agreement with the Duke of Cumberland, who owned the land on which the Folly stood, to redevelop the building at precisely the time the railway was about to be built alongside it.

He then started to serve teas in the garden during the summer months. It is not known when the Folly became a public house but the first reference to it came in 1847 when a report in the Bath Chronicle of a drowning woman being pulled from the river states that the alarm was raised by ‘the son of Mr Hulbert of the Folly Public House‘ and the victim was taken there to recover.

By 1852 the Watch committee regarded it as a ‘harbour for loose characters.’ Several landlords followed. Then, in 1862, Thomas Osmond from the Theatre Tavern in St John’s Place, took it over and attempted to give the Folly a new image by renaming it the Cremorne Pleasure Gardens.

There was a fountain in the grounds, dancing, brewing from the Hampton Springs and the longest, most comfortable bowling alley in Bath as well as gala nights lit by Vauxhall lamps.


At the top of the site – nearest the canal towpath – is where the pub’s skittle alley was laid out.

In 1887, the Great Western Railway bought the land – it was still owned by Network Rail. It was home to the Grosvenor Brewery – by then the pub’s official name. Over the years, licensees came and went and the pub deteriorated. Yet it remained a popular place for family outings, with swings and other games for children. Many locals remembered being taken there by their parents.

At last, one fateful night in 1942, a stray German bomber brought an abrupt end to the Folly’s long if chequered history. The report of the condition of the building stated that, although the damage was considerable, the building was still usable.

But given the Folly’s less than salubrious reputation and dilapidated state, it was decided it should be allowed to slip gracefully into oblivion.


At least – with autumn leaf fall – they new owners can see more of what they have bought!

In 1958 the licence of the Folly was transferred to the Richmond Arms in Richmond Place, which until then had only had a beer licence.

Today all that remains of the Folly are a few shattered stones, a short flight of steps that once led from the bar to the brewery, and a thick tangle of undergrowth.


The steps between pub and brewery

I asked Wendy what plans they had for their newly acquired land and she said they had no immediate idea. The autumn is giving them a chance to actually see what they have bought with the leaf fall letting in more light upon the scene.

They have quite a clearance on their hands. Will they be tempted to re-build in some way? We will have to wait and see.




Carve their names with pride.

Carve their names with pride.

Stonemasonry students from Bath College have volunteered their time for a project honouring local men who served in World War I.

The Level 3 students have carved commemorative paving stones for Mulberry Park, a new development of 700 homes, community facilities and open spaces in southern Bath being built by housing association Curo.


Some of the stone masonry students involved.

 A local group – the Combe Down Heritage Society – suggested that the streets within the new development were named after the young men of Combe Down who served in World War I. Each street will be marked with a commemorative paving stone.

The first paving stones to be unveiled honour Henry John ‘Harry’ Patch, William George Chivers and Herbert Charles Windell. Harry Patch, “the Last Fighting Tommy”, was the last surviving combat soldier of the First World War from any country. All three men grew up in Combe Down village.

WWI stones_2

Jonathan Cope​ – a relative of William George Chivers.

Relatives of William George Chivers attended to lay the stone which honours him. Jonathan Cope, who grew up in Combe Down said: “We’re really touched that our relative is being honoured in this way. Our family has a strong connection with Combe Down – my mother even worked on the former MOD Foxhill site. It is really important that future generations remember the sacrifices of those who fought in the world wars.”

Liz Potter, Chair of housing association and house builder Curo, said: “It’s a real privilege to work with the local community to honour these men.
As Mulberry Park develops, we will continue to celebrate the history of the local area while looking forward to an exciting future for new and existing residents.”

Curo has worked with Combe Down Heritage Society and stone carving students from Bath College to create the commemorative paving stones that will mark each street.

The paving stones were kindly donated by Forest of Dean Stone Firms. Stone carving student Jonny Stoker said: “It’s my way of paying respect to those who fought in the First World War, especially coming up to Armistice Day. I’m looking forward to visiting the site and seeing all the stones laid together in situ. I think that will give me a massive sense of achievement. Volunteering for projects like this gives me the chance to test what I’ve learned at college.”

WWI stones_1

The ceremony to unveil the first paving stones was attended by college students, representatives of Combe Down Heritage Society, the Royal British Legion, Bath and North East Somerset Council and MP Wera Hobhouse.

One tree less today in Bath historic park.

One tree less today in Bath historic park.

Bath’s historic Sydney Gardens lost another tree today – Tuesday, November 7th.

It was a sycamore which was said to be in a poor condition and dying.


The sycamore is to the left of the notice board.

A notice posted by B&NES said: ” It will not recover or improve so needs to be removed before the risk of limb or even stem failure becomes too high.


The sycamore is the smaller tree on the right .

Replacement tree planting is included as part of the Sydney Gardens Restoration Project.’


Here’s roughly the same view with it gone.

That rather depends upon an application being prepared for Heritage Lottery funding and won’t get underway – if the money is forthcoming – for a couple of years.