In loving memory.

In loving memory.

While l am pleased B&NES have managed to get the Laura Place foumntain working again, regular followers of Bath Newseum will know l am criticial of this pathetic celebration of the ‘waters of Bath.’

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While the present ‘ashtray’ manifestation is nowhere near as grand as the original fountain of 1877 – at least it’s back in action.

However, it’s taken an exhibition which has just opened at the Museum of Bath Archtecture, to make me realise how that imposing crossroads may have looked very different if a couple of other ideas for that using that spot had come to fruition.

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The exhibition is called ‘Building Memory – the architecture of death and burial in Bath’ but it does look at other commemorative monuments to major events and personalities.

 

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Guests enjoying a preview of the new exhibition.

 

From high Victorian cemeteries through sombre war memorials to a peaceful garden for suffragettes, architecture has the power to commemorate the dead and captivate the living.

The celebration of great lives and commemoration of tragic loss has produced some of Bath’s most individual (and often forgotten) structures and spaces.

 

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A private preview evening of the new exhibition.

 

As we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War and the start of Votes for Women this is something that is examined in the exhibition which explores the architectural language of memory in Bath.

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I came across an illustration of a magnificent column that they actually started to build on the Laura Place site eventually occupied by a fountain.

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The Reform Act Column which would have towered over Great Pulteney Street!

After completion of the main street local residents petitioned and successfully raised significant funds to build a grand column – rather like Nelson’s Column in London –  to mark the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832.

However, as construction of the column began, the residents realised that the addition would tower over the area – it would be 50% taller than the houses – and so they then petitioned for it to be cancelled.

After some negotiations, the column was pulled down and the much smaller fountain added instead.

Then – more recently –  a sketch for a War Memorial in Laura Place – dating from 1923. The sketch was possibly made by architect Reginald Blomfield when the location of Bath’s war memorial was first being discussed.

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Sorry about the reflection but the sketch is behind glass. It’s the Bath War Memorial that might have replaced the fountain in Laura Place.

From 1918 Blomfield has been the Imperial War Grave Commissions Principal Architect for France, and designed the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres in Belgium. Blomfiedl created the Cross of Sacrifice, on which he also based his design for the Bath War Memorial.

The exhibition also showed me the original location of the statue of Peace which now stands in Parade Gardens. It’s a memorial to King Edward V11 who died in 1910. A local committee was created to commission a memorial to him.

The king was popularly known as the ‘peacemaker’ due to his work on foreign policy negotiations, and building relationships between Britain and Europe.

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The statue of Peace in Parade Gardens.

By 1914 the committee felt it would be wrong to erect a statue to Peace during a time of war, and the project was postponed. The statue – by Newbury Trent –  was finally installed at Edgar Buildings in September 1919. In 1933 it was moved to Parade Gardens.

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The statue of Peace in its original position outside Edgar Buildings.

The exhibition runs through to November 25th but do click on the museum’s website for details of opening hours and charges. That’s http://museumofbatharchitecture.org.uk

 

 

Bath Preservation Trust support for Clean Air Zone.

Bath Preservation Trust support for Clean Air Zone.

Bath Preservation Trust  has come out in support of the proposal by B&NES to introduce a Clean Air Zone in Bath (CAZ) – particularly because its boundaries take into account the through traffic crossing Cleveland Bridge and exiting the City along the London Road. 

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In a press statement – released today, Tuesday. April 10th – BPT say:

‘We support the highest category of restriction (category D) in order to encourage behavioural change for car users as well as commercial vehicles.

Bath traffic results in three problems which can damage the listed buildings and harm the amenity of the World Heritage Site: pollution, congestion and vibrations. The CAZ is primarily aimed at the former (pollution) though it is to be hoped that it will also change behaviours of both longer distance drivers and local users.

While the CAZ is therefore by no means a total solution to the traffic problems of Bath, we hope that this will provide a first step towards providing a number of ‘carrot and stick’ methods to changing behaviours regarding vehicle movements in the City.

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London Road traffic.

We have two specific requests to make. The first is that any ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) installations used to run the charging system collect data as long as possible BEFORE the imposition of the charges so that there are definitive ‘Before and After’ datasets which will allow the effectiveness to be measured; and that secondly the income form the CAZ is at least in part hypothecated to incentivising other forms of non-polluting transport such as clean delivery methods, clean buses, strengthened public transport, and increased prioritisation of cycling and walking infrastructure.’

Bath’s wonder woman!

Bath’s wonder woman!

Putting aside its World Heritage status – earned for Roman remains and Georgian architecture – Bath can also boast of the part it played in mapping the heavens.

Brother and sister – William and Caroline Herschel conducted years of astronomical research from the garden of their Bath home in New King Street.

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William and Caroline polishing a lens .

William can claim the discovery of the planet Uranus or the Georgian Star as he first called it – after George the Third.

But his sister was breaking new ground herself while she studied the heavens.

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She succeeded in claiming a rightful place in scientific circles through passion and dedication – during times when intelligence in women was frequently disregarded – and is credited with the discovery of several comets and became a significant astronomer in her own right. She was the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.Wonder Women A4 poster v2

Only fitting in a year when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of votes for women, that the Herschel Museum of Astronomy – which now occupies the house in New King Street – should be holding a special exhibition dedicated to Caroline.Wonder Woman Comic Issue 51

Inspired by a 1950s issue of Wonder Woman which featured Caroline Herschel as part of a series of Wonder Women of History, this exhibition celebrates modern-day role models in space and engineering who are changing the way we see the world, and beyond.

In the exhibition Wonder Women of Space we have invited four women at various points in their careers in astrophysics, astronomy and space engineering to choose their favourite object from the museum’s collection, and share what inspires them about space and how they would inspire the next generation of scientists.

This exhibition is supported by a programme of associated talks and activities – including this one at the BRSLI in Queen Square.

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An evening talk by Dr Emily Winterburn, academic, author and former Curator of Astronomy at Royal Observatory Greenwich. Based on her book, she will consider Caroline Herschel and her various tactics for encouraging support for her work. Between 1788 and 1797 Caroline discovered comets, became the first woman to be published in the journal of the Royal Society and assisted her brother in his research. Women had tried to get their work heard before, indeed all over Europe there were women quietly working in science, more often than not silently, and unacknowledged for their male relatives; Caroline, however, was the first to get her voice truly heard. In this talk, Emily will focus on the beginning of her story, her very first, tentative steps into the world of scientific publication. Would she judge it well? Or fall to ridicule or condensation as so many of her predecessors had done? Tickets £4 / £2 for students and if a member of BRLSI or William Herschel Society.

 

Dr Amy Frost, Senior Curator, Bath Preservation Trust says: “In the year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of votes for women, this exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary role Caroline Herschel played in breaking through the barrier of a male-dominated scientific community, and how she continues to inspire women in science today.”
Prof Carole Mundell, Head of Department of Physics, University of Bath added:

“The study of space and our place in the Universe is as exciting and important as it was in Caroline Herschel’s day. The Wonder Women of Space exhibition celebrates the role of women scientists and engineers who are advancing the frontiers of knowledge and continue the Herschel legacy. I am thrilled and honoured to be included with such talented women, and I can’t wait to visit the Herschel Museum to see the exhibition.”

About The Herschel Museum
The Herschel Museum is one of four museums run by the Bath Preservation Trust. It is dedicated to the many achievements of the Herschels, who were distinguished astronomers as well as talented musicians. It was from this house, using a telescope of his own design that William discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. His observations helped to double the known size of the solar system. The house is Georgian, built c 1764.

About Caroline Herschel
Initially acknowledged as her brother Williams’ ‘astronomical assistant’ Caroline soon gained a reputation as a pioneering astronomer in her own right and was the first women to discover a comet (in 1786). From that time she because the first woman to be paid for scientific services, officially employed by King George III, and went on to discover seven more as well as 14 nebulae. She received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1828 and received an honorary membership into the Royal Society, before her death aged 97.

The Museum is open Monday – Friday from 1pm – 5pm
Weekends and Bank Holidays 10am – 5pm
Entrance to the exhibition is included with admission tickets
http://www.herschelmuseum.org.uk

CPRE President in Bath

CPRE President in Bath

Emma Bridgewater – President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) – is coming to Bath next month.

Emma Bridgewater

Emma Bridgewater.

She’ll be taking part in an informal interview with Caroline Kay who is Chief Executive of Bath Preservation Trust. The event will be held at St Michael’s Without in Bath on Wednesday, April 18th at 7pm.

A successful businesswoman and champion of British Industry, Emma is most recognised for her trademark hand-decorated kitchen pottery business.

Now employing over 300 people, she has refused to outsource manufacturing to low wage economies abroad and her company makes all of its pottery in Stoke on Trent, reviving these traditional skills.

The evening will take the form of an informal interview, chaired by Caroline Kay, Chief Executive of BPT. Topics will include the green landscape setting of Bath’s World Heritage Site and threats from development plus CPRE’s own national campaigns ‘the wrong homes in the wrong places’ and ‘roads to nowhere’ which also challenge Green Belt development.

In this centenary year of women getting the vote, Emma will also look at women who campaign and share some of her own relevant experiences of countryside campaigning.

Tickets are £5 via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-evening-with-emma-bridgewater-tickets-44223135589

Trust calls for action to determine historic building’s future.

Trust calls for action to determine historic building’s future.

A call for action in determining the future of the old King Edward’s Junior School building in Bath’s Broad Street has been made by  Bath Preservation Trust.

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The old KES School – by Thomas Jelly – in Broad Street.

It follows a recent attack by vandals on what is a Grade 11* listed property which has stood derelict for years.

The Trust’s CEO Caroline Kay says:  The recent break-in, as well as causing damage to the historic structure, shows how vulnerable a property like this can be when its owner leaves it unused, increasingly derelict and potentially at risk of irreversible damage through vandalism.

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A side door has been completely smashed.

The building is Grade II*, a high level of national designation, and is on the national ‘at risk’ register.  It is a poor advertisement both for a World Heritage City and for one of the South West’s leading independent schools, who sold the building in good faith over 20 years ago.

The Local Authority need to get on the front foot to inspect its current condition and determine whether or not the owner has any intention of carrying out the extant planning permission.

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Caroline Kay, CEO Bath Preservation Trust

 Also Historic England need to do as they say on their website, where ‘their  local Heritage at Risk teams strive to find solutions for sites at risk’.  We would urge them to demonstrate to the concerned public that Historic England, the Council and the owner are working actively to address this long overdue eyesore; and if not, what they propose to do about it.

 

Doing it for love NOT money!

Doing it for love NOT money!

Bath Preservation Trust – with its various city museums  – would be the first to admit just how important volunteers are to its operation but – it seems –  finding people with spare time and energy is becoming more difficult.

I am sure other bodies like Bath Abbey, the Holbourne Museum and Victoria Art Gallery would also agree that attracting those prepared to work for love and not money – is proving challenging.

The Trust have come up with the idea of  holding Volunteer Open Days when those prepared to consider joining the ranks can pop into one of its museums and chat to current volunteers and staff about the sort of roles on offer.

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Bath Newseum caught up with BPT’s newly appointed Director of Museums, Claire Dixon – outside No 1, Royal Crescent – to find out more.

The open days are being held on Wednesday the 17th and Saturday, January 20th, between 11 am and 2pm at the Museum of Bath Architecture, No. 1 Royal Crescent and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy.

The Trust’s Conservation Team will be at No. 1 on the Wednesday (17th) to answer any questions you have if you are wanting to help in heritage watchdog/preservation work.

BPT say: “We can talk about the time commitment you are looking to make and the role you would like to do and you can ask any questions about what we have available.  Whether you like the idea of talking to visitors, delving into our archives, supporting events and children’s activities or being behind the scenes helping in the office, we will be able to find a place for you in our friendly team.

At the end of your visit, if you are interested in getting involved, we will provide you with an application form and a person to keep in contact with.  Our friendly teams of staff and volunteers are looking forward to welcoming you.

If you are interested in volunteering with us but cannot make either of our drop in open days, please contact us to find out about our next session or to receive an application form by calling 01225 428126 or emailing.”

The web address is http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk

Time for a coach congestion charge says BPT.

Time for a coach congestion charge says BPT.

B&NES new coach parking strategy for the city comes under fire – from heritage watchdogs –  Bath Preservation Trust –  for increasing pollution and congestion and impacting badly on central heritage sites.

It goes on to call for an end to ‘coach cruising’  where vehicles tour the city’s attraction and then leave to go straight on to their next tourist destination. They suggest a congestion charge might help reduce for such activity.

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The existing coach station.

In a response to the Council’s new Parking and Coach Parking Strategy the Trust questions why such a policy does not mention heritage, air quality and congestion?

In a statement – quoted below in full – BPT say they are critical of both strategies.

‘For many years BPT has supported Council initiatives which claim they wish to reduce traffic and congestion in Bath’s city centre. Bath needs a sustainable and effective transport system underpinned by affordable public transport and a walk/cycle culture.

But the Parking Strategy proposed intends to increase the amount of short-term parking in the centre which actually increases the flow of cars, and directly contradicts the aims of its Getting Around Bath Transport Strategy adopted in 2014.

BPT instead suggests more ‘Park & Link’ opportunities using smaller sites where people live plus improvements to public transport and the provision of incentives to use it, alongside cycling and walking options.

Bath deserves the best in parking technologies including digital messaging signage, responsive charges and frequencies, and creative out-of-town event parking management.

The new Coach Parking Strategy appears even less well considered. Initial consultations seem to have bypassed properly canvassing the views of residents and city groups and are skewed towards satisfying the convenience and wish lists of tourists and the coach business stakeholders.

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The drop off point BPT are worried will become more congested and polluted.

The Trust opposes an increase in bays at Terrace Walk (Bog Island) and Green Park where parked coaches already impact the vista of these sensitive historic areas and where more would simply increase the number of coach movements, leading to yet more congestion and pollution.

The Council has a financial interest in parking, and a greater one in short term parking than longer term. Yet the two strategies are not transparent – are in fact silent – about the financial consequences set against the traffic consequences.

Similarly, the Council should be dissuaded from tolerating more coach companies ‘cruising’ the sights of the upper town before racing to the next holiday attraction. Instead, the Trust is calling for tighter regulations and consideration of a congestion charge for those coaches who bring no economic benefit to the city.

It is telling that BPT observes the phrase ‘environmental impact’ only once and the total absence of the words heritage, air quality and congestion in the 10 page summary document.

The Trust’s detailed responses to these consultations can be found at:
http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk/parking’

Bath Newseum has asked B&NES to comment on this statement.

 

Meanwhile the Chairman of the Federation of Bath Residents’ Association, Robin Kerr, has sent Bath Newseum a copy of a letter sent to the Leader of B&NES, Cllr Tim Warren.

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Robin Kerr

It welcomes the Bath Air Quality Action Plan but warns that unless the council actually implements these measures ‘nothing will change.’

However the Federation is also critical of plans for coaches. Here is the part of the letter dealing with them.

” 8. By contrast, the coach parking strategy is totally flawed. It fails to recognise the severe adverse impact of coach traffic on the city, to analyse the contribution that coaches are claimed to make to the economy, or to attempt to strike any kind of balance between the two. Essentially, the approach has been to ask what the coach operators, drivers and passengers want, and accommodate them without regard to the impact on the city or its residents. Surveys were conducted of the views of coach companies, drivers and passengers, but none of Bath residents. In the view of many residents (and some businesses), coaches are a plague.

9. The strategy proposes that coaches should continue to come into the very heart of the city and drop off just metres from some of the Key Elements of the World Heritage Site such as the Roman Baths, the Abbey and North Parade. Coach demand is forecast to increase by 24% by 2026, but the strategy seems to suggest that this increase is simply to be accommodated. These proposals are completely incompatible with Council’s policies to cut air pollution and reduce traffic, especially

in the historic core, and a wasted opportunity to improve our city. Coach drop-offs should be provided at locations outside the city centre, within a reasonable walking distance of it. We do welcome the creation of a coach park at Odd Down.

10. The proposal to put four to six new coach bays on Green Park Road is particularly egregious. It would gobble up a valuable green space and ruin the riverside setting of Green Park, which is used by young children including a growing number of visiting school groups.

11. The strategy should be widened to cover all aspects of the presence of coaches in Bath, including illegal parking, engines left running, and the movement of coaches through the historic core of the city. Restrictions should be placed on the streets that can be used by coaches within this area, such as High Street. The coach ban currently in force in Brock Street should be extended to Bennet Street and Gay Street. Coaches are not generally permitted to come into the historic core of York, an excellent model for Bath.

12. We strongly urge you to reject the draft Coach strategy and direct that a revised one is prepared which is consistent with the traffic reduction aims of the Core Strategy, PMP, Transport Strategy and the PRMS, and with the requirement which has been placed on the Council to bring air pollution inside the legal limit as soon as possible. Coaches must be managed, not simply accommodated.”