A different Bath uncovered.

A different Bath uncovered.

Tourists flock to Bath in their millions to gaze upon our unique Georgian showpieces that – with the help of our well-preserved Roman remains – have helped earned the city its World Heritage status.

However, the homes and public spaces of many of the ordinary people of Bath – the men and women  who helped build and run these elegant homes erected to house the 18th century’s super-rich – have not been so well preserved.

P1150824 (1)

Archaeologists have uncovered the slipway end of Avon Street.

As part of the preparation work being undertaken to re-model a section of the Avon’s riverbank through the lower part of the city – archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology have been called in to sift through some of the top 18th and 19th century layers of an area that was home to crowded tenement houses, industry, beer houses and public baths.

P1150828

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

An area of deprivation with a reputation for violence and prostitution – and one prone to major flooding.

The archaeology has to be completed before the winter and the chance of more swollen river waters overflowing.

P1150836 (1)

A stable block and an area that ended its working life as a scrap yard.

Ironically a job that has to be finished so that contractors Alun Griffiths Limited can start re-modelling the bank – as part of a flood alleviation scheme which will also open up the Broad Quays area for redevelopment.

According to the contractor’s website – http://community.alungriffiths.co.uk/works-in-your-area/bath-quays-waterside/ – the project is known as Bath Quays Waterside.

‘The Bath Quays Waterside Project will put in place essential flood mitigation and flood defence works to the north and south banks of the river between Churchill Bridge and Midland Bridge. In summary the plan will:

Provide the flood mitigation to enable the redevelopment of the Bath Quays and Manvers Street sites

Significantly widen the north bank to up to 15m wide at the lower tow-path level between Churchill Bridge and Green Park to move water through this area more quickly in flood conditions.

This would require that Green Park Road is diverted away from the riverside northwards to link up with Corn Street creating the major opportunity to open up the riverside to the city

Install new flood walls and raise existing river walls on the south side of the river between Churchill Bridge and Midland Bridge

Improving flood defences on existing buildings fronting onto the river along the Lower Bristol Road’.

There’s more detailed information on the Council’s website at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/planning-and-building-control/major-projects/bath-quays-waterside-reconnecting-bath-its

P1150839

The top entrance to a well that must also be investigated.

Bath Newseum has been allowed in to see what has been uncovered so far in this archaeological ‘rescue dig’ and has been speaking to the Senior Project Officer for Wessex Archaeology – Cai Mason.

It’s hoped there might be some sort of public ‘open day’ of part of the site so that people can see for themselves what has been uncovered and before it is all swept away.

Many of the historic images used in this report come from the resources of Bath in Time – www.bathintime.co.uk – a site your Director is pleased to promote.

P1150825

Evidence of crowded housing blocks that must have flooded frequently over the years.

Work on new road system begins.

Work on new road system begins.

Work on the next phase of the Bath Quays Waterside project will begin on January 20, 2016.

The £6.22m project, a collaboration between Bath & North East Somerset Council and the Environment Agency, will take place over the next two years. It will reduce flood risk for over 100 existing properties, reconnect the city centre to the riverside with a new waterside park, and allow the development of Bath Quays, a new home for businesses in the city.

Highway plan

The attached map shows how the new road layout will look, once completed.

Highway works will be carried out by contractor Alun Griffiths Ltd and will change the existing one-way system around Avon Street car park into a two-way system, with a new road link through Riverside coach park. Once completed traffic will be diverted from Green Park Road, allowing the widening of the river bank which will improve the River Avon’s ability to convey flood water, and establish a new riverside public open space.

Work will start at the coach park on January 20, to be followed by Avon Street, Green Park Road, Corn Street and Ambury, as well as Avon Street car park which will have a new exit constructed onto Ambury.

No road closures will be necessary during daytime hours but some lane closures will be required. Riverside Coach Park and Avon St car park will remain open throughout, although the coach park will operate as a short-term parking facility only, with long-term coach parking relocated to the First Bus depot at Weston Island.

The Council anticipates that this work will be completed before the Summer, enabling traffic to be permanently diverted from Green Park Road onto the new two-way system. Some delays in this area are possible during peak times, and we thank the public for their patience while these important works are carried out.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This work will ultimately lead to the development of new space for home-grown and growing businesses. It is an important next phase in our work to secure the city for future generations, and will help us to meet one of our priorities of creating more homes and high-value jobs.”

At the same time, the Council will undertake essential highway improvement work from Corn St to St James’s Parade. This will start on February 1 and last for 6 weeks. This will require the right turn lane from Corn St onto St James’s Parade to be closed, with a short diversion via Avon Street and James St West. When this is completed there will need to be three overnight closures to complete the carriageway resurfacing and road markings.

Also starting February, there will be pedestrian/cycle path and landscape improvements on the riverside path between Nelson Villas and in Green Park as part of the Bath Quays Waterside project works. At times pedestrians and cyclists will need to be diverted from the riverside path between Nelson Villas and Green Park, diversions will be signposted as required.
For detailed information about the construction works and its impacts on the public, please refer to the question and answer sheet attached on the project web page at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/bathquayswaterside. Timescales for further road closures, towpath and river access will be communicated later in 2016.

Getting to know you

Getting to know you

World War Two bombing and 1970’s re-development were the last major events to change the look of the Green Park area – down beside the banks of the River Avon above Midland Bridge – but now a radical new flood defence system is proposed to effect another make-over.

Green Park Road

Green Park Road

It’s all to do with climate change and the threat of raised water levels but – unlike the transformation achieved by installing new flood defences in the 1970’s – this won’t cut off the river behind sheets of piling but allow the city and its people to come closer to it.

I found out more about the Bath Quays Waterside Project at a get-together at Green Park Station with many of those who will be affected and at which views and suggestions were being gathered.

This scheme could begin in May 2014 and take a year to complete. It will involve re-profiling sections of the river and mean re-routing a section of Green Park Road.

Midland Bridge

Midland Bridge

Some river walls will rise and flood defences will need to be improved on existing buildings fronting on to the river. The works will affect both sides of the river between Churchill and Midland bridges.

River Avon looking towards the city

River Avon looking towards the city

It’s a five million plus project – to reduce flood risks – especially for residents and businesses along Lower Bristol Road – but also enable the safe regeneration of key sites to support planning and economic strategy. It could also help re-connect the people of Bath with their river.

Past history lives on in names. Broad Quay once led on to Narrow Quay. Two industrial areas in which goods were transferred to river barges to and from the port of Bristol down stream. City commerce involved trade and industry.

The river and Kennet and Avon Canal were vital connections in that and integral parts of the Bath communication and transportation system. The barges disappeared and so did many of the warehouses and mills and malt houses as Broad and Narrow Quays were built over. The city turned its back on the river.

IMG_4997

Part of Green Park Road will have to be moved.

Sounds like another urban centre l know a little further downstream and – where Bristol has re-vitalised its derelict Floating Harbour and reintegrated it into the city’s cultural and recreational heart – Bath hopes to do something a little similar with its normally gently flowing Avon.

Putting all the benefits of flood relief to Lower Bristol Road and the reduced risk to economic regeneration of run down areas to one side – the bit about this scheme l like is the way they want to bring city and river back together again.

Currently cyclists and pedestrians have to share!!

Currently cyclists and pedestrians have to share!!

In the Green Bank area – and elsewhere – they want to dig out the steep sloping banks and set them further back in a tiered arrangement that could have separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians and areas for children to play or people to sit and watch the world go by.

There would be room for cafes, public art, park benches, new trees (re-arranging the road will mean many mature specimens will have to be removed) and play areas for children and adults!

The Project leaders talk about ‘animating’ the river – bringing back its life and vigour. It is all about teaching people how to renew an old acquaintance with a natural resource that can be seen again as friend and not foe.

What do you think?