A museum without a home?

A museum without a home?

Bath has plenty of museums to celebrate and explore its Roman, Georgian and Victorian pasts but – until quite recently – nothing to reflect its important role as a medical hub.

roman baths

The Great Roman Bath – full of the city’s famous thermal water.

The city’s thermal waters have helped create and shape its history, with an emphasis on their health-giving qualities and their role in soothing the minds and bodies of the many who have come – over the centuries – in search of a cure for their ailments.

laura place fountain

Fountain in Laura Place

Their use – whether by Romans or Georgians – has left its mark in archaeological ruins and fine 18th-century architecture – which together has helped Bath gain its World Heritage status.

Both periods are well represented in award-winning museums but the medical side of things has never been singled out for special attention. That is – until quite recently.


In a much-loved building – which itself played an important role in the city’s social history –  a group of volunteers has established the Bath Medical Museum.

At its core is a remarkable collection of artefacts which tell the history of ‘The Min’. Opened in 1742, it was the first national hospital which took patients from all over the UK. The idea behind its construction was to provide access to treatment in the thermal waters of Bath for the ‘sick poor from Britain and Ireland’.


Opened in 1742, it was the first national hospital which took patients from all over the UK. The idea behind its construction was to provide access to treatment in the thermal waters of Bath for the ‘sick poor from Britain and Ireland’.

In order to cover the cost of sending patients home when their treatment was finished, providing necessary clothing, or burying them if they died, a sum of money (caution money) had to be deposited with the Registrar on admission.


At first, the patients were taken to and from the Corporation Baths for treatment. They wore brass badges (a number of which are still in existence at the Hospital) giving their ward and the number of their bed.

These badges were a `ticket of admission’ to the Corporation Baths. They were also to prevent patients entering public houses and coming back the worse for drink. The Inn Keepers were instructed not to serve patients and risked losing their licence if they did.

patients report

Details of some of the patients who passed through the hospital.


A book of patients’ records, the brass badges and even a sedan chair to carry patients with gout bandaged legs are amongst the items on display.


People like Ralph Allen – who gave his quarry stone for free – and John Wood Senior – who designed the hospital – have left their signatures in the hospital’s books.

The museum – run by many volunteers who are still out-patients at what is now the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases – is getting itself charitable trust status and hoping to extend its medical collection – but there is one BIG problem.

The building is now a NHS Trust but its world-renowned facilities are due to move to a new centre to be purpose-built at the Royal United Hospital.


The proposed new building to be built at the Royal United Hospital site.

This means the old Grade 2* listed building is up for sale and could end up as a hotel, department store, offices or restaurant – leaving the Bath Medical Museum without a home.


Amongst the volunteers running the medical museum are (L to R) Mel Brooke, Alyson Leeds, and Dr Roberta Anderson.

Bath Newseum spoke to the museum’s Project Director, Dr Roberta Anderson, and asked her why she thought the museum was so important.


The property is being marketed by GVA and their Bristol-based Senior Regional Director, Gordon Isgrove, told me:

‘We are currently in the middle of the tendering exercise so there is not a huge amount I can say. I can confirm that we moved the tender deadline out a little from the original set date (which was 26th April) and we received a number of tenders on the 11th May.

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As you would expect for such a prime property, interest was strong and we are reviewing a number of the offers proposals and hope to be in a position to progress the sale forward once we have completed our review over the next 6 weeks.

In relation to price, there was no formal guide price and I can’t comment given the commercially sensitive stage we are at.’


The facade of the original building. An extension was added in 1860.

Meanwhile, Howard Jones, Strategic Estates Advisor for the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, said:

 “We are working with our appointed agents on the sale of the RNHRD and are confident that the outcome will be positive, allowing us to further improve services we will provide for patients at the new RNHRD and Therapies Centre at the RUH.

We continue to work with volunteers who have set up the Bath Medical Museum charity, and are loaning them artefacts for ongoing display in the museum’s eventual new home.’


Opening days and times.

Where that new home will be is anyone’s guess. I have heard other museums have been to inspect what The Min has to offer. Could this be a real Museum of Bath at last? One that could incorporate several individual museums under one roof?

Money would – no doubt – be the deciding factor.

You can check out Bath’s Medical Museum via www.bathmedicalmuseum.org or – because there are server issues at the moment – try https://visitbath.co.uk/things-to-do/bath-medical-museum-p2118253







Making room – in the Saw Close – for people.

Making room – in the Saw Close – for people.

The second stage in the redevelopment of  The Saw Close in Bath is about to get underway with B&NES preparing to start work on improving  the ‘street environment.’

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The area included in the Council’s remodelling of the public space.

The first stage is well underway with the construction of an hotel, casino and restaurants in a development that incorporates part of the old – and listed – Palace Theatre.


The old Palace Theatre tower is being revealed again!

The scaffolding is starting to come down at the front of the landmark theatre tower which has been both retained and renovated.

Now the Council will be starting the first stage of highway works in Saw Close on Monday 22 May. The project seeks to re-establish Saw Close as a key public space with a greater focus on cyclist and pedestrian needs.

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A proposed plan showing the reduced space for vehicular traffic.

Between May 2017 and February 2018 we will be carrying out construction in phases within the highway boundary, including footways.

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

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How planners imagine the re-vamped Saw Close will look.

B&NES says all businesses – including the Theatre Royal – will be accessible during the works however some road closures will be necessary at times with diversions in place.

More information regarding the project can be found at www.bathnes.gov.uk/sawclose


Where the grass isn’t always greener.

Where the grass isn’t always greener.

Good to hear B&NES has finally given up on trying to make grass grow under the large one hundred year old Plane tree in Abbey Green.

Every year they lay new turf and every year – by the time the summer is through, there isn’t a blade of grass left to see.

The Council has been working with Bath Tourism Plus and the Bath Business Improvement District (BID) to find a solution that is more appealing, durable and authentic.

abbey green

No more money wasted on turf laying.

The soil surface has been carefully removed using an air spade to prevent damage to the tree and will be replaced by a self-binding gravel, a type of surface used historically.

Divisional Director for Environmental Services at Bath & North East Somerset Council, Martin Shields, said: “The Council has been aware that the area under the large tree in Abbey Green is not particularly attractive and we wanted to find a positive solution. The new surface will be a mellow golden colour and offers a respectful solution to the historic landscape and tree.”

abbey green

The London Plane in Abbey Green surrounded by bare soil and Christmas Market huts.

Louise Prynne, Chief Executive of The Bath Business Improvement District said: “Bath BID is happy to make a contribution to this reinstatement in partnership with B&NES Council and Visit Bath to enable the work to be completed. This activity helps futureproof the area, making both a sustainable and positive impact on the environment as well as improving the appeal of Abbey Green.”

Work on the new surface is expected to be completed and all equipment removed from the site by the end of Friday 19 May.

Bath Festival hits the right note.

Bath Festival hits the right note.

Bath BID is working with city businesses to dress Milsom Street as part of its support for the forthcoming Bath Festival which takes place 19th – 28th May.

Visitors and people working in the area will already have noticed musical notes spanning the street which will remain in place for the duration of the Festival.


Milsom Street is renamed Carnival Street for the duration of Bath Festival.

Milsom Street will be renamed ‘Carnival Street’ for the Festival and a number of installations and events will be taking place to animate the street and attract and entertain visitors, as Louise Prynne, Chief Executive of the Bath BID explains, “The Bath Festival is a major event in the city and it is important that it is represented and supported far and wide across the city. Bath Businesses stand to benefit greatly from this wonderful event, and indeed are a big part of its appeal, so it is important the BID helps with preparation and support and mobilizing businesses to get involved.


“Many retailers in Milsom Street are getting their store windows dressed in support of the Festival. Waterstones is the official partner bookseller for the Festival, and Jolly’s and Milsom Place have come on board and will be hosting events and bloggers, while a significant number of other shops in the area will also be getting involved with activities and competitions for staff and customers.”

Milsom Street will be a central location for the Festival and will be closed on the evening of 19th May to host one of the Party In the City opening events when the street will come alive with the sound of dancing, drumming and samba.


Top award for Bath’s Water Space Project.

Top award for Bath’s Water Space Project.

The Water Space Project – which aims to improve and encourage development along waterways across the Bath area –  has won the top award at this year’s Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) South West Regional Awards for Planning Excellence.

The RTPI South West represents more than 1,500 professional planners across the region.


The Water Space Project has established the data and information required to develop an evidence based plan for investment to revitalise the river and canals across Bath. It covers 16 miles of waterway along the River Avon and Kennet and Avon Canal from Dundas through to Bath and Hanham.

The research has focused on 5 key themes:

  • assets (land ownership);
  • moorings/boating;
  • environmental issues;
  • regeneration/development opportunities and leisure
  • recreation and leisure

The Water Space Project is a partnership between Bath and N.E. Somerset Council, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency and Wessex Water. Major initiatives were undertaken to consult stakeholders, including the boating community moored on the canal.

The RTPI South West Chair, David Lowin said: “The Water Space Project is an excellent example of partnership working to realise the potential for future investment along these waterways whilst balancing economic and environmental issues. An impressive feature is the extensive consultation undertaken, in particular with the boating community.

This study, and its evidence base, will be a significant factor in the establishment of future planning policies and the determination of planning applications in and around the city of Bath”.

Hedgemead Park needs ‘friends.’

Hedgemead Park needs ‘friends.’

Things are looking up for Bath’s Hedgemead Park with a number of improvements now  completed by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks Team.

The bandstand has been repaired and repainted, with work now finished.

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The newly painted bandstand in Hedgemead Park.

The old shelter is in the process of being fixed with new shingle on the roof, the retaining wall being repaired and new railings around the shelter to provide better visibility.

Work to resurface the play area has also been completed by the Council, in partnership with Wessex Water.

Jane Robson, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks Manager, said: “We have been working hard to carry out a number of improvements to Hedgemead Park as we know local people and users place great value on this excellent community facility.”

The Council’s Parks Team is also attempting to establish a Friends of Hedgemead Park group. A meeting is taking place on Wednesday 10 May at The Crypt, St Swithin’s Church, Paragon, Bath, from 7pm, with anyone interested in the future of the park is welcome to come along.
Jane added: “We hope that establishing friends groups at many of our parks across Bath and North East Somerset will encourage greater use and involvement in shaping their future.”


Would a walk to school zone ease the jams?

Would a walk to school zone ease the jams?

A 500 metre wide zone around local schools – in which children are persuaded to walk or cycle to school – is just one idea being put forward to ease the traffic effect caused by so many vehicles transporting youngsters to both state and private Bath schools in the east of the city.


London Road traffic


Transition Larkhall are involved in a a year-long study investigating – amongst other things – how parents take their children to school and why they choose to travel that way.

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Deadmill Lane is one of the roads surveyed.

 In conjunction with the University of Bath and the South West Foundation, this local community body – part of a world-wide transition movement which is working towards a post-oil economy –  surveyed traffic on 4 successive Mondays between 7.00am and 10.00am, at the Gloucester/London Road junction and on Dead Mill lane.


Transition Larkhall have held two local meetings to explain to the community the results of the survey.

The Study Coordinator – Joanna Wright – told Bath Newseum what they had discovered.

You can read a full report of the survey as it was presented to the West of England Joint Transport Study Consultation via http://transitionlarkhall.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/West-of-England-Transport-Consultation.pdf

There’s more information – via Transition Bath – on http://transitionbath.org/transition-larkhall-analysis-show-50-baths-rush-hour-traffic-can-attributed-schools/