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.
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.
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.
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
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.