A helping hand for Bath’s heritage.

A helping hand for Bath’s heritage.

The scaffolding that has been fronting Hales the Chemist in Bath’s Argyle Street will be coming down in the next few days.

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Scaffolding in place outside Hale’s the Chemist for the conservators to start work on the royal coat of arms.

It has been supporting members of the Cliveden Conservation team who have been working on a restoration project involving stripping, repainting and gilding a royal coat of arms belonging to Queen Charlotte.

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Freelance conservators Joanna Pucci and Teresa Llewellyn at work on the royal coat of arms.

You can find the story of its restoration in greater detail elsewhere on this website but l want to move on to feature the local organisation that has helped fund the work and which each year puts money into many other projects that ensure Bath’s heritage is being looked after.

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Job done and looking good!

I am talking about the Bath World Heritage Enhancement Fund which – since being established seven years ago – has made a real difference to the Bath World Heritage Site.

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Ainslie Ensom pictured beside the newly gilded lion.

With work still underway on the coat of arms behind us – and a lot of rainwater to be got rid of in the protective canopy spread out above the workers – l was able to talk to Ainslie Ensom who is the Administrator of the Fund. What did she think of the coat of arms restoration.

You can check out the Enhancement Fund’s website via  https://www.bathworldheritage.org.uk/enhancement-fund

Bath’s empty basin.

Bath’s empty basin.

Seems the Laura Place fountain has developed pump problems again. The basin has been drained and the fountain out of action for several weeks.

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Switched off and empty again!

A spokesperson for B&NES has confirmed it is a mechanical fault.

“The fountain was drained down as the pump was not circulating the water as it should , as a result of this work an issue has been found with the functioning of the pump.

Once all electrics and the pump has been repaired and checked the fountain will be switched on again”.

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The fountain in action.

That is good to hear but l have to say a faulty pump has been a reccuring issue over several years.

It is so sad. B&NES manages to get business to ‘sponsor’ flower beds on traffic islands – so why can’t it get a local firm to sponsor and renovate the fountain.

 

 

 

Flying the Green Flag for local parks.

Flying the Green Flag for local parks.

Bath’s Royal Victoria Park, Bloomfield Green and Henrietta Park, have been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme, as some of the very best parks in the world. The accolade also applies to the Memorial Park at Keynsham.

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Autumn sunshine through the trees at Royal Victoria Park – laid out by Edward Davis in 1829.

They are among a record-breaking 1,797 UK parks and green spaces that will today receive a prestigious Green Flag Award – the mark of a quality park or green space.

This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “We know how much quality green spaces matter to residents and visitors, and this award celebrates the dedication that goes into maintaining all our winners to such a high standard.

“Keynsham Memorial Park and Royal Victoria Park are both destination parks that have won their Green Flags many times before and we are proud that, once again, the standard of these parks has been acknowledged by external judges.

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Water and spectacular plantings at Henrietta Park.

“For Bloomfield Green, this is their second year of recognition in the City Green category.  For Henrietta Park this was their first year of application and both awards show how a dedicated Friends Group working with the Council has helped to fulfil more community expectations and to raise the standard of each green space.”

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme.

“Each flag is a celebration of the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. The success of the scheme, especially in these challenging times, demonstrates just how much parks matter to people.”

For Your Information:

The Green Flag Awards Scheme (http://greenflagaward.org/) is run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, under licence from the Department of Communities and Local Government, in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful, Keep Wales Tidy and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens and the National Housing Federation.

Keep Britain Tidy is a leading environmental charity. We campaign for quality parks and green spaces for everyone, inspire people to be litter-free, to waste less and to live more. We are run programmes including Eco-Schools, the Green Flag Award for parks and green spaces and the Blue Flag/ Seaside Awards for beaches. To find out more about Keep Britain Tidy, our programmes and campaigns visit www.keepbritaintidy.org.

Any green space that is accessible to the public is eligible to enter for a Green Flag Award.  Awards are given on an annual basis and winners must apply each year to renew their Green Flag status.  A Green Flag Community Award recognises quality sites managed by voluntary and community groups. Green Heritage Site Accreditation is judged on the treatment of the site’s historic features and the standard of conservation.

 

 

Now you see it, now you won’t!

Now you see it, now you won’t!

Almost a year ago, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a medieval wall and defensive ditch on the bank of the River Avon in Bath.

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The bar floor of what was the Duke of York beer house.

It was a massive ‘rescue’ dig as they were revealing the remains of a riverside community which would be swept away as part of a flood alleviation programme which involved reshaping the side of the bank.

There were homes, pubs, a bath house and industrial premises in a part of Bath famous for slums, prostitution and regular flooding.

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The c 1700 stone bridge – now to be buried again.

Wessex Archaeology did a fine job of recording everything they had uncovered – including a little stone bridge from around 1700 which had been built over the defensive ditch as part of a riverside pathway.

It was hoped that – in amongst all the new walkways and plantings – there would be room to incorporate this little bit of the city’s past in the new Bath Quays scheme which will open up the area ass a sector for commercial regeneration.

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Looking onto the newly shaped river bank from the Churchill Bridge end.

Well, l am sorry to say this little ‘lump’ of local history will NOT be part of Bath’s future. It’s going to be re-buried.

A spokesperson for B&NES told Bath Newseum:

‘The 17th century stone bridge is undergoing some minor conservation work. The height of the new riverbank landscaping is to be raised in the vicinity of the bridge, burying the bridge beneath a layer of soil, geotextile and planting, to protect it from future flooding.’

Richard Sermon – who is the Senior Archaeological Officer for the B&NES Planning and Conservation Team – also told me:

‘Having discussed the possibility of displaying the bridge remains within the new landscaping with Historic England, the Environment Agency and the council’s project engineers, we had to accept that there was: (a) a high probability that annual flood levels would regularly reach and exceed the level of the bridge remains, (b) this would expose the remains to the regular erosion damage, along with the risk of them being washed away in a major flood, and (c) attempting to mitigate these impacts would probably result in a highly engineered and unsympathetic end solution.

This indicated to us that displaying the remains was unlikely to be in the best interest of preserving the monument or its appreciation by the public.

Nevertheless, given its historic importance, we recommended that the bridge should be consolidated and preserved in situ, being protected below a geotextile membrane and soil layer profiled into the surrounding landscaping.’

Meanwhile, the flood prevention work has also involved building a concrete barrier wall along the Lower Bristol Road bank near Churchill Bridge. An effective means of preventing flooding but  – in its present state – not very attractive.

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The new concrete flood wall near Churchill Bridge.

Well – the good news is –  this new ‘wall of Bath’ WILL be faced with stone.

 

 

 

 

The Big Bath Cheese Trail!

The Big Bath Cheese Trail!

 

 

Bath is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its ‘twinning’ with Alkmaar in The Netherlands next week – July 10 to 16 – and there’s a real fun way we can all join in.

Alkmaar is world famous for its traditional cheese market and to help tell the amazing story of how the twinning came about and how the money was raised, Bath Comedy, the people behind the city’s annual comedy festival, have teamed up with VisitBath and Bath-Alkmaar Twinning Association, and with support from Heritage Lottery, to create The Big Bath Cheese Trail.

Alkmaar Cheese Market

Alkmaar Cheese Market

The Trail, which will be officially launched by the Mayor of Alkmaar, will tell the amazing story of how the world’s very first town twinning came about through the generosity of the citizens of Bath towards the starving children of Alkmaar in the aftermath of World War 2.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

During Alkmaar Week, 75 cheeses, kindly donated by the Alkmaar cheese merchants, will be placed in the windows of independent Bath shops and other prominent places. Each cheese will have a fascinating fact about the history of the twinning attached, linked to a numbered quiz question on the accompanying entry form. Answer as many questions as you can and those with the most correct answers will be placed in a draw to win a fabulous prize: a giant cheese! Some cheeses will be hard to find, don’t worry if you don’t get them all.

WHERE DO I PICK UP MY ENTRY FORM?

The entry forms will be distributed to hotels, pubs, the Visitor Information Centre and to the participating shops. The entry form will also be available to download at www.bathcomedy.com

WHERE WILL I FIND THE CHEESES?

Hidden in plain sight in the plethora of fascinating independent businesses that help make our city’s shopping experience so unique, in the city centre and in the thriving urban ‘villages’ of Widcombe, Larkhall and London Road. Plus, in a handful of ‘off piste’ bonus locations for those especially eagle-eyed participants!

WHERE DO I HAND IN MY ENTRY?

There will be a post box at the Bath Visitor Information Centre for completed entries. Or you can enter online or by post. Full details on the map. Good hunting!

FOR YOUR INFORMATION.

Bath-Alkmaar Twinning was the world’s very first town twinning, and came about when the citizens of Bath, still reeling from the terrible Baedeker bombing raids that devastated the city, raised the equivalent of £250,000, at that time an astronomical sum, to help the children of Alkmaar, a historic Dutch town hard hit by the terrible famine known as The Hunger Winter which gripped the country at the end of World War 2. As well as sending money, clothing and food, Bath families played host to a large group of the neediest children, giving them a Christmas to remember.

Later, the town of Alkmaar reciprocated by organising a wonderful holiday for fifty Bath children, which for many was not only their first holiday for many years but also their first trip abroad.

Thus the friendship between the two cities was forged and indeed continues to this day in the form of regular cultural and sporting exchanges.

 

How Georgians spent their pennies.

How Georgians spent their pennies.

Fancy finding out more about Victorian Bath? Or how the Georgians spent their pennies? There’s the many famous people who tied the knot in the city or how this ‘town in the West’ stood up to wartime bombs.

Just some of the subjects to be covered by special walks – organised by the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides –

being held through July.

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Remember, these knowledgeable volunteers ask no fee and take no tips.

Find out more via wwww.bathguides.org.uk

Meanwhile, daily generic walks – visiting many of the city’s historic sites – begin at 10.30 am and 2 pm each day (excluding Christmas Day)  from outside the Pump Room by Bath Abbey.

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The new-look board for the Mayor’s Guides

All quiet again on the Western Front.

All quiet again on the Western Front.

Fears that 5 or 6 chalets, from this year’s Bath Christmas Market, could be positioned in Abbey Churchyard, and obstruct the view of the Abbey’s West Front, look like being averted.

The idea was included in proposals – including units arranged in front of the 18th century historic Cross Bath –  put forward in this year’s annual market application, to B&NES planning committee, for 174 temporary wooden huts.

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The usual arrangement of commercial units – which bring much-needed cash into the city from November 23rd through to December 10th – is being disrupted by work that has started at Bath Abbey as part of their multi-million-pound Footprint Project.

It means parts of Abbey Courtyard and Kingston Parade cannot be used and chalets have to be found sites elsewhere.

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The tree in Abbey Churchyard. Chalets would have been in front of it.

I have heard Bath Abbey will be objecting to chalets near the West Front in Abbey Church Yard. It is a photo vantage point for thousands of people and even more so – with the town’s Christmas tree in place – during the festive season.

Meanwhile, the Council’s Senior Conservation Officer, Caroline Waldron, has also suggested stalls terminate at the end of Bath Street ‘and do not wrap the (Cross) Baths.’

Vicky Bunt – who is Head of Events for Bath Tourism Plus – the body behind the Market – told Bath Newseum that Bath Preservation Trust had also objected to the chalets being erected alongside the Abbey’s West Front.

She is due to have a meeting with them tomorrow (Friday, June 29th) and was also in discussions with Bath Abbey.

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Looking down Bath Street (last year) to the Cross Bath.

Vicky told me: ‘We think we can relocate the chalets. With a change of emphasis regarding the Footprint Project, it has been possible for the Abbey to release back some of the space on the North side.

We are in partnership with the city, after all, and would never go against peoples’ recommendations – especially at this time.

The chalets at the bottom of Bath Street would not be against the Cross Bath but on the pavement nearby.’

Hopefully, tomorrow’s meeting will bring an early bit of festive cheer and Bath Tourism Plus can re-jig things elsewhere.

 

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The tree from a couple of years ago.

 

Meanwhile, l hear that Bath Rotary – who in recent years have been criticised for putting their collecting hut in front of the Abbey Churchyard Christmas tree – may also be slightly relocating it to a less picture-blocking spot.

Never one to knock their charity fundraising, l would applaud that decision as many people in Bath for the market love getting a picture of tree and Abbey at that point.