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.

BPT Volunteer Team A4 leaflet aw.indd

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.”

A new look to Gravel Walk!

A new look to Gravel Walk!

What a difference a week makes. Seems efforts by The Circus Area Residents Association, local Councillor Andrew Furse and B&NES has finally dealt with the issue of an ever increasing number of cars and vans parking long the length of historic Gravel Walk.

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Things looked bad along the Gravel Walk.

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How much better it looks now!

A new locking mechanism is now in place – on the removable bollard at the top of the pathway – and only essential access will be allowed in future.

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The removable bollard is now back in place with a working lock.

Now we can only hope some way can be found to restore the route as vehicles have gouged out most of the gravel – leaving ruts and potholes.

The repair follows a letter sent out by B&NES to all residents with access to the Gravel Walk warning that vehicles had to be removed prior to the replacement locking arrangement.

This pathway was Bath’s first by-pass and the setting – in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion – for the city stroll that Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot took when they were finally reconciled.

It was  laid down in 1771 and connected the Royal Crescent with Queen Square.

Once it would have had views across gently sloping pastures leading to the old city of Bath – that is, until Royal Victoria park was constructed and mature trees now shade this pathway and drip raindrops upon its pedestrian users.

It is a pathway that Jane Austen herself would have walked upon and one that is still used today by tourists and Bathonians alike.

 

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Gravel Walk has become a bit of a vehicle park.

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The cars and vans have gone!

All the cars and vans were  churning up the surface.

Though this is part of the city’s Conservation Area, attempts have been made to fill in the holes with all sorts of aggregate, so the whole route is a patchwork quilt of stone filling, pot holes and mud.

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Someone has tried to level out the potholes with pea gravel. A good attempt at repair but should the whole pathway be restored with a material closer to its original surface dressing?

This route once gave access to the back entrances to the Georgian properties but, with the coming of Royal Victoria Park – designed in 1829 – the pathway merged with this new facility – one of Britain’s earliest public parks.

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Water-filled potholes and not much in the way of gravel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does ‘The Min’ matter?

Does ‘The Min’ matter?

A ‘call to arms’ – from Bath Preservation Trust – for other heritage groups to join them in persuading B&NES to protect the historical assets of  The Min – the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases – which is currently up for sale.

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The Min – built 1738-42 by John Wood the Elder.

This follows the rejection – by the Council – of the heritage watchdog’s bid to register the Grade 2 listed building as of public importance through an Asset of Community Value application.

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BPT’s Chief Executive Caroline Kay outside The Min.

BPT’s Chief Executive – Caroline Kay – told Bath Newseum that the Trust was not trying to put a spanner in the process but genuinely felt ‘ that this was an important building with an absolutely intrinsic role in the Georgian city that should be recognised in any future use’.

I asked her to explain the background to the bid – and how the battle for protecting The Min’s historical assets was not over.

The Min has been put up for sale by the Royal United Hospital which is building a new facility at its main site to handle all current services.

The building – designed by John Wood Senior –  was originally Britain’s first General Hospital. It was erected so that the visiting poor could receive mineral water treatment.

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Some of the brass badges patients would have worn.

It also houses the Bath Medical Museum which will be looking for a new home.

Though l have heard rumours of a sale a spokesperson for the RUH would only tell me that ‘the position hasn’t changed – the Trust continues to be in the process of selling the Mineral Water Hospital’.

Picnic in the Park.

Picnic in the Park.

Bet you’ve never thought about the Royal Crescent as Bath’s largest open air theatre or had the opportunity to step back in time to when this most famous of curved streets was clear of cars.

Well, just such an experience is coming your way on July 29th when costumed actors from the Natural Theatre Company in Bath will bring the lives of Georgian gentry and their servants to life.

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Come ‘Picnic in the Park’ from 11 am to 3pm, and experience a day in the life of the Royal Crescent.

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A view of the Crescent

A view of the Crescent

Would Bath’s iconic Royal Crescent have made a good Council House? Can you still see the spot where a wartime bomb made a big crater on its lawn?  Or appreciate why one local painter calls its grassy front garden Bath’s beach?

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Detail from Peter Brown’s 20-16 study of the Crescent lawn entitled ‘The Beach.’

Just some of the questions that may come to mind if you go and see ‘Exhibition: A View of the Crescent – Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Bath’s Landmark Building’ which opens at No 1 Royal Crescent on Saturday, June 25th until November 19th.

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illustrations showing how the Royal Crescent could have been transformed into Council Offices.

It explores what the Royal Crescent means to people who enjoy, admire and respond to the beauty of its setting, and how prominent artists have portrayed this famous building over the years through paintings, prints, photographs and textiles.

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Philip Bouchard’s painting of the Royal Crescent.

To stage it, Bath Preservation Trust has delved into its own archives – and that of Bath Record Office – as well as involving the Victoria Art Gallery and many well-known locally-based artists.

As one of its organisers, Beatrice Goddard, explains:

At No. 1 Royal Crescent from 24 June to 19 November.

Free with normal admission to the museum: Adult £10, Child £4, Family £22. Concessions.