Joy Roberts writes:
Whatever you think of Bath’s annual Christmas Market the one thing l always look forward to is the Abbey Hotel’s ‘Snow Globe’ installation – the location of one of the best festival selfies you can get in this city.
Well – as we head into summer – l think l have found a new location for turning the camera on yourself – or your friends. It’s an archway of flowers that’s been erected in Milsom Place Shopping Centre as a centrepiece for this weekend’s Milsom Place Festival of Flowers.
This historic central location is being dressed to impress under the guidance of Chelsea Flower Show gold medal veteran Jon Wheatley with plants on sale and even a hand-tied bouquet workshop.
I was introduced to the Centre Manager Alex McLaren by Allison Herbert who is General Manager of Bath BID.
For those who don’t know this is the Bath Business Improvement District – an independent, not for profit, business-led initiative that works to create the environment for businesses in Bath to succeed.
It’s also in the process of helping to ensure many of the city’s central shopping streets are properly decorated with flowers for our millions of visitors.
Local authority cuts mean that – although they can supply the flowers from their greenhouses, B&NES hasn’t the resources to ‘manage’ the displays.
I joined Allison and BID Ranger Alan Russell in Upper Borough Walls where they were keen to show off a whole railing full of blooms – before we headed for Milsom Street.
It’s Allan who has the job of managing the floral displays in the city centre and – twice a week – physically driving around to water them all.
We stopped outside Milsom Place so l could find out more about how the BID was helping to maintain Bath’s floral reputation. A city famous for its success in national competitions which judge floral displays.
Find out more about the Milsom Place Festival of Flowers via http://www.milsomplace.co.uk
Bath BID via www.bathbid.co.uk
Meanwhile, while l have been critical of the plastic box hedging that has appeared in the Saw Close – alongside the new Casino, hotel and restaurant development – it’s a shame to report that one of the displays has been vandalised.
Many people agree it’s a poor show for a new development – and one that has dangerous steps that have needed marking to make them safer – but l would rather see all the plastic removed by the developers than the contents of one scattered across this badly-thought-out space.
The east end of Bath Abbey is now clear of pews as Emery Brothers – the local builders with the multi-million-pound task of securing the church floor and building new facilities – get into their stride.
I watched as Fiona started cleaning the surface of the ledger stones that have been uncovered for the first time in one hundred and fifty years.
The job of recording them will get underway next week before they are taken up for the contractors to deal with the cavities that have been found under the floor.
They will gradually work their way around this ancient building over the next two years until the whole interior is stabilised.
Though most of the pews will be returned to the east end, the rest of the building will be left open – as it was when this English gothic perpendicular church was built at the beginning of the 16th century.
While building work continues, the High Altar has been covered and a temporary altar erected on the nave side of the crossing.
It’s on a dais at a spot that may well be used on a regular basis when the Abbey is returned to full use at the end of its Footprint Project.
Emery Brothers are hoping a fan-based ventilating system they are going to install – when the east end is sealed behind a giant dust cover – should obviate the need for wrapping the 1997-installed Klais Organ.
I have been trying out a new device called the Osmo Mobile 2 which turns my mobile into a steady cam.
The fires are lit – so let the forging begin! Bath’s first-ever Festival of Ironwork has got underway today – Thursday, June 14th.
See the blacksmiths at work – and have a go yourself – is just some of the entertainment available in Parade Gardens through to 6pm on Sunday evening.
There are also displays of the most amazing ironwork.
Running alongside this ar talks on the subject at the Guildhall and free sixty minute Heritage Ironwork walks – led by two experienced blacksmiths – around Bath City centre to discover hidden ironwork treasures.
Elsewhere on the Bath Newseum site, you will read how Master Blacksmiths will be forging unique and individual ironwork panels for the bandstand in Parade Gardens.
Find out more about the National Heritage Ironwork Group – and the Bath Iron Festival – via www.nhig.org.uk
Adults living in Bath are being given the chance to return to the classroom with the arrival of a series of courses designed to help people feel better equipped for day-to-day life.
The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education, will be running new taster courses at Bath City Football Club later this month. These free sessions will be followed up in the autumn with full courses designed to meet local needs.
The WEA, founded in 1903, is a charity dedicated to bringing high-quality, professional education into the heart of communities.
Taster courses starting in June include Bringing Out the Best in Our Children and Helping Your Child to Enjoy Reading where adults will be able to learn about different resources and approaches to help with parenting.
Other taster classes include Creating a Level Playing Field and Talking a Good Game which will focus on improving communication skills.
Ruth Spellman, WEA Chief Executive, said, “We believe that everybody should have easy access to high-quality education, no matter their circumstances or reason for learning.
“The impact is not only on employability but their health and well-being, family life and community engagement. It results in closer families and communities.
“You might be surprised to learn just how many adult education courses are available. What I would say is find out what’s on in your area and sign up today. It could transform your life.”
Carole Banwell, General Manager for Bath City FC, said “The WEA is the latest in a range of new opportunities we are bringing to Twerton for people from the local area and the wider Bath community to take advantage of.
“Because of the charitable nature of the WEA we are providing rooms at a discounted rate and we are pleased to be able to facilitate such a unique offer. We really hope local people come along to the free taster sessions and consider signing up for the courses in the autumn.”
To find out more about the courses or to book a place, visit www.wea.org.uk , or call 0300 3033464.
The Mayor of Bath (Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones) is launching a search for his ‘Mayor’s Young Citizen’. The Award began 24 years ago to counteract some negative publicity about young people and to encourage them and celebrate their many fine achievements.
He said “I would like to meet as many young people as possible. I am always amazed by the latent optimism and unimpeded talents of our youthful generations. I will be looking for enthusiasm as well as wider interests when I meet the candidates, so there is all to play for.”
This individual award is for a 16, 17 or 18 years old who has made good progress at school or given service to the local community. Letters will be sent to local senior schools, colleges and youth organisations with a nomination form.
To enter, the young people must live in Bath, or attend a school/college in the city or belong to a Bath-based group. The young person chosen to hold the position for one year will receive £150 and be invited to some of the events the 791st Mayor of Bath will attend throughout his term in Office. The runner-up will receive £50.
Candidates and their nominator will both need to be available to attend a 10-minute interview on the afternoon of Monday 2 July and the Presentation Ceremony will take place at 5.00 pm on Thursday 5 July at the Guildhall.
A nomination form can be downloaded from www.mayorofbath.co.uk, emailed on request at firstname.lastname@example.org, or collected from the Guildhall Reception. Nominations need to be received in the Mayor’s Office, Guildhall, Bath, Somerset, BA1 5AW by Tuesday 26 June 2018 at 5.00 pm.
Jaydee Emery was awarded the title last year. She shone out because of her evident commitment to helping other people beyond the immediate remit of her work with the Southside Family Project, and her infectiously friendly personality, which made it easy to see how she gets on with everyone and from all walks of life.
At the Presentation Ceremony then Mayor (Councillor Ian Gilchrist) said ‘I was very impressed with Jaydee’s determination to continue with a career in assisting others and her understanding that achieving anything involves hard work and, above all, patience.’
Am l alone in being very disappointed by the recently ‘re-imagined’ Saw Close – an historic open space which lies just inside what was the old city wall.
As part of a recent redevelopment – that has seen the construction of a restaurant, casino and soon-to-open boutique hotel – the space between the old Palace Theatre facade and the Theatre Royal – on the other side – has been paved, stepped and now covered in troughs of plastic foliage.
This was a golden opportunity – with either a small water feature or just a specimen tree – to create another atmospheric public space for people to gather.
But where Kingsmead Square and its central tree, cobblestones and cafe chairs has worked – the Saw Close is a mess.
Benches have been laid out like seats at a bus station. Bike racks occupy even more space in this so-called open area.
Steps were constructed that were so invisible and unsafe – as a potential trip or fall hazard – that the developers had to turn around and put handrails and white lines on the risers to make them usable.
Now – to crown it all – planters have arrived – full of plastic box hedging.
It may be low maintenance but it’s also a new low for a World Heritage city with a reputation for winning national competitions for its floral displays.
Shame on you B&NES for not insisting on a higher-quality – and more imaginative – finish.
This is a missed opportunity to create a new focal point in a city famous for its Georgian iconic spaces.