Twinning tulips in Bath bloom.

Twinning tulips in Bath bloom.

Last November, Bath’s famous culinary daughter, Mary Berry, came to help children plant spring bulbs in Parade Gardens.

Now the tulips – some of the 5,000 bulbs donated by Bath’s Dutch twin city of Alkmaar  -are in full bloom and providing a burst of rich colour for the city centre in the warm sunshine.


Peter Turner from Bath in Bloom and children from Widcombe Junior School gardening club inspect the flower bed in Parade Gardens they helped plant with tulips bulbs from Bath’s Dutch twin city, Alkmaar. (photo Dave Hargrave)

The bulbs were a gift to help celebrate 70 years of friendship between the two cities – a link which has its origins in the Second World War.

Over a thousand of the bulbs were distributed to junior schools across the city, and to the Bath Carer Centre, while the rest were planted in the Orange Grove, next to the Guildhall, as well as in several beds in Parade Gardens.


Orange Grove in bloom. Photo: Dave Hargrave.

Bath-Alkmaar Twinning Association (BATA) Chairman, Martin Broadbent, explained:

“These tulip are not only lovely to look at, they also commemorate something rather special.  In 1945 Bath welcomed 50 children from Alkmaar recovering from a terrible famine in the Netherlands in the last year of the War.  The following year the people of Alkmaar gave children from bomb-damaged Bath a wonderful Summer holiday in their rivers, fields and historic City.  7 decades on, we are still sending citizens, including children, back and forth, to experience life in a different country, and to make friends across international borders.”

Children from Widcombe Junior School’s gardening club joined members of the B&NES Parks Team, Peter Turner of Bath in Bloom, and Chris Davies from BATA to celebrate the tulips being in full flower. (see photo).

A programme of special events is being planned for an anniversary ‘Alkmaar Week’ in Bath, starting on July 10th.  The Mayor of the Dutch city will be paying an official civic visit, meeting officials from B&NES and undertaking fact-finding tours of heritage sites across the City.  The week will end with two concerts at the Roper Hall and St Michael’s Church by the Alkmaar Regional Youth Orchestra.

We won’t force the cable car on you says Curo chief.

We won’t force the cable car on you says Curo chief.

Curo’s Chief Executive, Victor da Cunha, tells Bath Newseum he doesn’t want to force his cable car idea on the city but is hoping that this somewhat controversial proposition can at least encourage dialogue about how to find a sustainable way of tackling Bath’s transport problems.

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Curo’s Chief Executive Mr Victor da Cunha.

The social housing landlord and landowner wants to link their new Mulberry Park development – and neighbouring Foxhill – with the city centre by cable car after commissioning specialist planning and engineering group Arup to identify and analyse potential transport solutions that could improve links. The aerial route turned out to be the one with the most potential.


At the moment Curo are holding public consulations to gauge opinion in the city. The people of Bath will decide whether this idea goes any further says Mr da Cunha.

See what you think.


You can view an exhibition on the proposal and leave your comments at Southgate – outside the Apple store – on Saturday, April 22nd for 9 to 5; at Bath City Football Club in Twerton on Wednesday, April 26th from 6 to 8pm; and at the All Saints Centre in Weston High Street on Saturday, May 6th from 9am to 12 noon.

More information via





Cleveland Pools restoration wins approval.

Cleveland Pools restoration wins approval.

The Cleveland Pools Trust have just secured planning approval and listed buildings consent to restore the 200 year-old Georgian pools in Bathwick which have been closed for swimming since 1984. 

The vote was 6-2 in favour and came with a recommendation for the Cleveland Pools trustees to meet with the neighbours, who have objected to certain elements of the plans, and work with them to allay their concerns. 


Cleveland Pools Trust chairman Ann Dunlop who is delighted with the outcome after 13 years of campaigning

After nearly thirteen years of campaigning by the Cleveland Pools Trust chairman Ann Dunlop, it was a satisfying moment for her in particular when Cllr Rob Appleyard (Lambridge Ward) put forward his recommendation to approve the plans, seconded by Cllr Caroline Roberts.


“Councillor Rob Appleyard (centre left of the screen) speaks in favour of the application”

Ann attended the meeting with her husband David, and two of her seven trustees – Ina Harris and Sally Helvey.

Dennis Toogood

Dennis Toogood – President of the Bath Dolphin Swimming Club and former President of the Amateur Swimming Association.

 Dennis Toogood, also came along to speak in support of the Cleveland Pools Trust’s application along with David Barnes, one of the architects in the design team, from Donald Insall Associates, and the Trust’s Project Director Christopher Heath who has worked so incredibly hard over the past few months to bring everything together to enable the Trust get to this point.


Mr Toogood mentioned in his short speech the recent Swimathon carried out by the Bath Dolphin Swimming Club and seven swim schools in the B&NES area which raised over £12,000 for the Trust –  proof that the swimming community of Bath is truly behind the Cleveland Pools.  This appeared to impress many of the committee, and certainly those who are not already familiar with this riverside heritage site which had been defunct for so long.


Parents urging their youngsters on at the swimathon.

Although the planning approval is a major milestone for the Cleveland Pools Trust, there is still much work to be done before the Heritage Lottery Fund release the allocated Stage II funding for the site, to ensure restoration work gets underway early next year, and they still have £155,000 of their £600,000 matchfunding target to raise. 


“Architect David Barnes (right), Project Director Christopher Heath (centre) and Bath Dolphin President Dennis Toogood, take their seats again after delivering their speeches to the council’s planning committee”

Chairman Ann Dunlop says:  “We can’t relax quite yet but I remain positive and reassured that there are so many good people behind us willing to stick with the programme and help us deliver this project for Bath’s community – hopefully within the next two years.  I am enormously grateful to the trustees, design team, project director, advisors, and all our loyal supporters, and would like to say a big thank you to them all for helping us get to this point”.

cleveland pools

At the Cleveland Pools in August 2014, awaiting the outcome of the HLF bid. L to R Adviser Mary Sabina Stacey, Trustees Paul Simon, Ina Harris, Ainslie Ensom, Sally Helvey and Chair, Ann Dunlop.

If you would like to learn more about the Cleveland Pools, and meet some of the people behind this remarkable heritage project, they will be in Parade Gardens for World Heritage Day on Sunday 23rd April (11am til 3pm).

 There will be an historic display, fun and games for children, and a free tour to the Pools for those of you who haven’t yet seen this unique outdoor venue built during the Jane Austen era.

To B or not to B? Setback for Council’s park and ride site? B&NES responds!

To B or not to B? Setback for Council’s park and ride site? B&NES responds!

                                  According to a press release from the Bathampton Meadows Alliance,  B&NES council has been told it won’t get permission for a vital access road to its preferred site for a fourth Park & Ride – East of Bath.

The press release is as follows: “Documents from Highways England obtained by campaigners show that Bath and North East Somerset Council was told seven weeks ago (10th February) that it would be too dangerous to build an access road off the Batheaston bypass onto council leaders’ preferred site – Site B – for the new Park & Ride development for Bath.

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The Council’s chosen site – west of Mill Lane.

In the latest chapter of the council’s troubled plans to build a fourth Park & Ride for Bath on Bathampton Meadows, the government agency responsible for major roads in Britain has told B&NES Council that Highways England is unable to support the proposed access for the new Park & Ride because of ‘operational and safety’ concerns.


Looking down onto the Batheaston bypass towards Bath. The entrance to Site B would be somewhere on the left.

The Conservative-led Cabinet voted at the end of January to press ahead with plans to build a Park & Ride on Bathampton Meadows despite widespread opposition in the city to the plans, and criticism that transport officials have failed to provide a proper evidence-based case for the £17.5 million project at a time of stringent cuts elsewhere in the authority.


Protestors outside the Guildhall – while councillors decide on going ahead wth an East of Bath park and ride on Bathampton Meadows.

Council leaders said their preferred choice for the Park & Ride was Site B, land west of Mill Lane, part of which is on New Leaf Farm which is owned by the Horler family. But they said a decision would be made in ‘weeks’ about whether it was possible to proceed with Site B, or whether Site F, on the other side of Mill Lane, would be pursued instead.


Looking towards Site B – maybe no longer the final choice?

Two months after that meeting of cabinet councillors, a spokesman confirmed just last week that they are still pursuing Site B, despite the fact that farmer Steve Horler has gone on record several times saying they will not sell their farm land.

But now these latest documents, obtained from Highways England under a Freedom of Information request, show that the Council knew weeks ago that in addition it will not get permission from Highways England for access to site B from the bypass.

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The two sites either side of Mill Lane.

Bathampton resident, Sian James, who put in the FOI request, said: “The email with this information is dated the 10th February. So why is the council still putting out statements saying they’re pursuing Site B when they know they haven’t got approval from Highways England?”

“The road speed is too great, the access road is too short, and this would fill up with traffic at peak times and spill out onto the Batheaston bypass, and that is dangerous. Do council leaders think they’re going to convince Highways England that Bath has careful drivers who won’t smash into one another on the right turn, or are they going to try to defy the opinion of Highways England in the same way as they have defied another Statutory Consultee, Heritage England? It seems that no matter who tells Bath’s Conservative-led council that this is a bad idea, they continue to refuse to listen.”

The chief executive of the Bath Preservation Trust, Caroline Kay, called on Bath and North East Somerset council to say publicly what it is now proposing to do about the controversial development.

Ms Kay said: “It is distressing that the Council appear to have been told over a month ago by Highways England that Site B was not a runner for the Park & Ride and yet this has not been shared with the many concerned residents and organisations with an interest in this development.”

Ms Kay said a Park & Ride on the council’s only remaining option, Site F, on the other side of Mill Lane and which is council land, would however be ‘even more prominent and damaging to the landscape and to the Green belt’.

site B

A larger capacity plan for Site F

Ms Kay continued: “It is difficult to see how they could meet planning requirements if they attempt to pursue Site F. It is time for a clear statement from the Council about how they intend to proceed.”


This is Site F

The 10th February email from Highways England to B&NES questions how the access road would operate ‘if things went wrong and at very busy times’ and says that ‘where queues and (traffic) flow are higher there would be an increased risk of side swipes and shunts on the approach to the proposed access’.

The email concludes that: ‘Although Highways England support the principle of P&R, I am unable to support the proposed access.’


Looking up the Batheaston bypass out of Bath. The entrance to Site F would be somewhere along here on the left.

Highways England is a statutory consultee in the planning system. Planning guidance published by Highways England clearly sets out that ‘Where a Local Planning Authority decides that it does not wish to accept our recommendation, they must refer the case to the Secretary of State ‘as soon as practicable’.

 A spokesperson for B&NES told Bath Newseum tonight:

‘The Council always stated that progressing site B was dependent on 2 criteria – agreeing purchase of the site and securing agreement with Highways England (HE)  on site access – which is why site F was held in reserve.

The letter received from HE on the 10th Feb was an initial response to the proposed entry into site B and work and discussions are ongoing with them over the potential options for access into this site, being mindful of the importance of safety for all road users.

As stated in their response to the Council, HE remain supportive of a Park & Ride. In addition to this, discussions remain ongoing with the landowners but this was paused during the period of the Call-In of the Cabinet decision. Therefore, the position of the Council remains unchanged.”

Bath’s canal illuminations.

Bath’s canal illuminations.

Here’s the sort of amazing lighting effect you can capture if you happen to be in this Kennet and Avon Canal road-bearing tunnel, out of Sydney Gardens, at the right time on a sunny day.


Natural lighting in the tunnel leading out towards Lambridge from Sydney Gardens.

This is what l call the ‘Thames tunnel.’

It’s the one that bears an image of Old Father Thames above its portal to remind you that John Rennie’s 18th century masterpiece was dug – with much sweat and toil – to link the West with London.


The head of Old Father Thames.

At the other end of the gardens is another lengthy tunnel – this time sporting the face of Sabrina – the Roman goddess of the River Severn. This part of the canal heads towards the River Avon which flows towards Bristol and ultimately the Severn Estuary.


The head of Sabrina – goddess of the River Severn.

The tunnel supports a road and also a Grade 11* listed building – now called Cleveland House –  originally built as the offices of the Kennet and Avon Canal Company – and known as Canal House.


Looking towards the canal tunnel bearing both Sydney Road and Cleveland House.

It was constructed – to a design by John Pinch the Elder – between 1817-20 – on the orders of the Duke of Cleveland who owned the Bathwick Estate. He let it to the canal company until 1851 when the Great Western Railway bought it.

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Cleveland House © Osborne Group

Michael Forsyth – who wrote the updated Pevsner Architectural Guide to Bath – describes it as ‘ among the most refined and important buildings connected to canals.’

More recently the building had been acquired for renovation and re-sale as a domestic dwelling house by the Trevor Osborne Property Group who have a reputation for high quality projects involving historic buildings.

This one will go on the market shortly at a guide price of three and a half million pounds.

So proud was the company with the fine job they have done to this historic building that they installed a lighting feature to the surface of the tunnel below – which forms part of the building’s structure.

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The LED lighting in the tunnel beneath Cleveland House. © Osborne Group

It’s there, they say, “to celebrate and draw attention to the tunnel as a key architectural feature to this building.

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Inside the tunnel with the lights on.

The lighting also has the added benefit of improving the public space below the property, making it safer for canal tow path users to pass through this dark space, but also by improving the aesthetic value of this heritage asset. The lighting allows for a greater appreciation of the stonework within the tunnel.”

The company consulted various people and even followed guidelines on lighting historic buildings laid down by English Heritage. They thought they had done a good job. It seemed to go down well with local residents too. People they invited in to look at the restored house and the tunnel lighting.

Then came the realisation that they do have to go through with a listed building application and have produced a specially-prepared report to help them get permission –  a little after the event so to speak.

So the tunnel remains in darkness while councillors decide – in the next couple of weeks – whether the lighting can be used for real.

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The lighting rig as it appears during daylight hours.

Rob Moore – Development Manager for the Osborne Group – told Bath Newseum – that the house deeds included the tunnel beneath as part of the property. However, there does appear to be an issue over who owns the  remaining section of tunnel under the road alongside the house.

“No one seems to know who owns that section'” said Rob, “but if and when an ‘owner’ provides evidence of freehold ownership we can have a sensible discussion about what we consider to be a nice asset for the city.”

The company has checked out the effect on wildlife with the aid of consultants Greena Ecological. They reported back that bats use the tunnel to fly through but don’t appear to roost or hibernate there.

Bearing this in mind the company says :  ” It is proposed that the lighting of the tunnel will be limited to the two hours before dark between the spring and autumn equinox each year, while the lighting will be on between 17:00 and 20:00 during the winter months, when Green Ecology have confirmed that there will be no adverse ecological impact.”

While the LED lights will be neutral for most of the time they do have the ability to gradually change colour but Rob Moore says that special effect would not be in constant use.

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The coloured light option in the tunnel. © Osborne Group

“We want the lighting to be subtle and not in your face. However the colour change could be used a few times a year for special events. Turning it into a piece of artwork for things like the Bath Festival for instance. We don’t want to be gimmicky.”

At this point let me explain that if planning permission is granted the tunnel lighting will be under the control of the new house owner.

” These are LED bulbs which will add hardly anything to the house electricity bill. I don’t think it will concern whoever buys Cleveland House,” says Rob.

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Another view of the tunnel with clear LED lighting. © Osborne Group

It’s true to say there are lights above ground too with floodlights on the house. A ‘show home’ in more ways than one.

While the Osborne Group have done their own ‘public consultation’ the B&NES planning application is now open for the public to comment upon and let the Council know what they think.

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The Canal and River Trust has declined to comment at this stage.










Latest on World Heritage Day celebrations.

Latest on World Heritage Day celebrations.

Parade Gardens in Bath will host a day of free activities to celebrate World Heritage Day on Sunday 23 April, 11am-3pm.

World Heritage Day is marked at sites around the world each April. This year has special importance for Bath as the city celebrates 30 years of being a World Heritage Site.

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The theme of this year’s celebrations will be ‘Waters of Bath’ and activities will focus on the past, present and future use and significance of Bath’s hot springs, river and canal network.

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Displays will be staged by local museums, archives and heritage organisations, and visitors will have a chance to find out about exciting new developments and restoration projects taking place in Bath.

Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones, (Conservative, Lansdown) Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “World Heritage Day will be a wonderful celebration of Bath’s 30 years as a World Heritage City. There will be free events and activities for people of all ages in Parade Gardens, as well as a chance to explore other parts of the city on guided walks.”

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This year, for the first time, there will be a programme of short talks. Local experts will explore different aspects of the water theme, including the medicinal use of spa water, the importance of the waterways in the Georgian development of the city, Bath’s cold water springs and minor spas, the use of thermal water to heat the Abbey, and the history of Bath’s river crossings.

Guided walks will be on offer throughout the day, ranging from a 30-minute Garden Tour, to a 60 minute exploration of Cleveland Pools, a 75-minute tour around the river and canal, and a longer walk to the Bath Skyline. 

Entertainment will be provided on the bandstand by Bath City Jubilee Waits playing traditional English waites (11am-12pm) and brass band the Bath Spa Band (2.30pm-3.30pm). To mark St George’s Day, Widcombe Mummers will perform ‘St George and the Dragon’ at 1pm.

There will be plenty to keep younger visitors busy. Kids can follow the ‘Bookmark Stamp Trail’ to find out why Bath is so special; practise their engineering skills by trying to build Pulteney Bridge; explore old maps to see how Bath has changed over time; try their luck at World Heritage dominoes; test their knowledge of globally important places and add a pin to a giant map to show which World Heritage Sites they have visited. They’ll also be invited to make a scented ‘spa posy’ or dragonfly to take home.

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Visitors can share their memories of the day by uploading their Pulteney Bridge selfies using #bathworldheritageday.

Find out more about all the events via:

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.



A new focus for Bath Abbey

A new focus for Bath Abbey

Change is afoot at Bath Abbey and it’s getting mixed reviews.

The church’s Footprint Project – which will use Heritage Lottery money to fund stabilising the floor, provide new heating and extra space for church activities – could mean saying goodbye to the Victorian pews in the nave.


During the work it will also involve bringing the altar activities – at the east end – down into the body of the Abbey.


The temporary dais on ‘trial’ at Bath Abbey.

Though this might be seen as a temporary feature, the church is trying various arrangements of staging blocks – in the centre of the Abbey – to lead services on a more permanent level.


An artist’s impression of the possible new elliptical dais.

Currently, architects have produced an elliptical shaped dais which is two steps  high. I hear it might even be pneumatically operated to rise up out of the otherwise level floor when needed. Two pews have been temporarily lifted which will be put back when the trial is finished.


Pews removed to make way for the trial dais. In a few years time all of the nave pews are due to be taken out.

The Abbey is asking for comments and it is my understanding they are getting plenty.


Looking towards the temporary dais and the nave beyond.

I cannot help but think of the layout of Clifton Cathedral in Bristol. It’s obviously a more contemporary take on a congregational gathering for worship, but the spiritual ‘stage’ for church ritual is slap bang in the middle.


Clifton Cathedral in Bristol.

So l welcome any move to bring things down to the people so worship can be truly shared. The  proposed eventual removal of the pews gives the Abbey a real opportunity of  finding a new focus.

Traditionally, before the Reformation, the Abbey would have been an empty space. Pews have been gradually introduced over the centuries and, in the Abbey’s case, reached their pinnacle under Sir George Gilbert Scott during Victorian times.


One of those side benches you still find in churches like Bath Abbey. Once the only seating the congregational space would have offered.

Did you know the saying ‘Going to the wall’ refers to the fact that centuries ago the elderly or disabled could find little resting benches lining the walls of the otherwise empty church.

Meanwhile, the church is hosting a touring exhibition of ‘Via Crucis’, a series of 14 new images for the Stations of the Cross by Bath artist Caroline Waterlow.


More of Caroline Waterlow’s designs.

‘Via Crucis’ is described by the artist as “a culmination of three years’ of research and work into the meaning and significance of Lent, and how it can relate in our lives today.”


Another design by Caroline Waterlow.

Through these images, you are invited to follow the final events of Jesus’ life as he goes to the place of his crucifixion and death.


You can follow the ‘stations’ around the church.

To complement the exhibition, there will be an opportunity to look at the Stations in more detail, using scripture, poetry, song, prayer and meditation, on Wednesdays 22th, 29th March & 5th April, 7.30-9pm and on Good Friday 14th April, 12 noon.


A crown of thorns design by local artist Caroline Waterlow.