A sunshine tour.

A sunshine tour.

The hottest April day since 1949 and some good news amidst the sunshine.

 

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Welcome back!

 

The fountain in Laura Place is back in action after the installation of a new pump. It’s the only real fountain the city has and – just like what is left of Mr Pieroni’s architectural offering on Bog Island – is in need of some long-term tender love and care.

Both fountains need real money spent on them or – long term – they will be lost.

Back to the good news. I have been gently chiding Garfunkel’s Restaurant – on the ground floor of the Empire Hotel – about their exterior planting troughs full of plastic flowers.

Somehow it seemed ironic to me that they should be there when just across the road was a riverside park which has constantly won awards for its living blooms.

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Now you see them.

Bath seems to have more success in saying it with flowers – thanks to an overstretched and under-funded parks department – than it does with celebrating its waters.

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Now you don’t!

But back to the restaurant where – l am pleased to say – the artificial flowers are gone. The manager tells me he is looking to source some living plants to go outside his restaurant. At last! It will help make his business bloom!

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The area between the two eight-storey​ buildings is gradually​​y being transformed into a​ riverside park.

Good to see the new riverside park taking shape as part of the Crest development down by Victoria Bridge.

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Royal View with Sovereign Point – still under construction – beyond.

Whatever you think of the new eight-storey apartment blocks – taking shape on the riverbank – it’s fair to say Bath has not seen anything like them before.

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The photography exhibition by David Molina Gadea in the Holburne Museum Garden.

Back into town and the Holburne Museum cafe-goers are sharing their garden space with an exhibition of photographs called The Long Way Home which reflects on the long journey that refugees across the world undertake when they decide to leave their homes in pursuit of a new place to call “home”.

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These contemporary ‘monoliths’ are part of the photographic exhibition by David Molina Gadea who is a member of the Portuguese agency of photojournalism. They make a striking sight in the museum garden.

It’s a striking display with a strong message.

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Who has set up camp in Sydney Gardens? The tepees are part of a ‘corporate event’ being held here on Friday, April 20th. B&NES is looking to get more revenue from its parks but – somehow – it’s a bit of an affront to the people who use this public space that part of it is being ‘denied’ to them. Even on a temporary basis.

Into Sydney Gardens, where three large tepees have been erected for what l was told, was a ‘corporate event’ today – Friday, April 20th. The cash-strapped Council is obviously out to extract more commercial value from its parks – and cannot be blamed for that. l just feel its a temporary denial of public space for the benefit of a private enterprise. I am not aware of any notices going up to warn of the event.

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A bit of a tidy up

Onto the towpath and finally, the Canal and River Trust is removing the growing rubbish heap that had been created in and around a bag of grit that had been left on the grass verge by the path down to Grosvenor Bridge.

The Trust doesn’t provide proper rubbish bins and so – maybe – you can’t blame people for looking for somewhere to put litter. It’s one of the reasons we find so many discarded dog poo bags on the towpath too.

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I am always full of admiration for the one-man team B&NES employs to keep the city clear of graffiti. Caught him at work on Grosvenor Bridge. The horrid concrete replacement for what was a fine suspension bridge that disappeared many years ago.

Finally – across Grosvenor Bridge – where the one-man-band that is the city’s Graffiti Unit was hard at work removing more evidence of this urban blight. It’s a spot from where l have often stopped to photograph a half-submerged tree up-river of the bridge on the Avon.

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There’s life in that old river tree yet!

It’s bare branches look stark in the winter. I often wonder how long it will be before what is left of its roots gives way and the tree is carried off during the next rain-induced flood surge. Yet here – on this sunny morning – one of its branches was covered in new growth. Takes a lot to make Nature lose her grip.

 

 

 

We want our Police Station back.

We want our Police Station back.

Bring back Bath Police Station – and give us some CCTV camera street surveillance – say some of the traders around the Circus and Assembly Rooms districts following a spate of organised crime which has left one antique dealer and a major museum devastated.

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The Museum of East Asian Art

Priceless Chinese artefacts have been stolen by four masked men who smashed their way into the Museum of East Asian Art earlier this week. They got away with jade, ceramic and gold artefacts in a raid that was probably a targeted attack with the objects stolen to order.

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Closed until further notice.

Also, last Thursday , the antique silver shop, Beau Nash on Brock Street, was the victim of a major break-in when five robbers smashed in the front door at midnight and made off with quantities of antique silver stock.

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Beau Nash antiques shop

Speaking to one of the owners Bath Newseum heard that the police arrived very quickly and did a great job but he thought that CCTV street surveillance might have deterred the raid or given valuable clues to the raiders’ identities. He wants B&NES to get some cameras in operation as soon as possible.

An elderly lady living in a flat above the shop shouted at the men from out her window. They pelted her with stones.

The raid is costing the business thousands of pounds – including money that will have to be spent on additional security.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Assembly Rooms, another trader told me the break-ins weren’t the only criminal activity in the area.

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“Earlier the same day, a lady from Alfred Street came in saying that there was a drug deal being exchanged in broad daylight outside her front door opposite the Assembly Inn.

Last month, stock was stolen from my wife’s shop. Also, about a month ago, we heard the awful reports of four people being mugged at knifepoint at the top end of Bath, each one a separate incident on the same day,’ said this trader who wishes to remain anonymous.

‘Over the past twelve months, we have seen several drug deals happening in or around Bartlett Street which have been reported to the Police.

Every day we see street beggars, drinkers and drug-users stumbling up and down Bartlett Street, Milsom Street and Stall Street several times a day, sometimes directly approaching people to beg, which is illegal, and often drinking in public, which is illegal.

 

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Milsom Street

 

Since last October there have been several reports of serious sexual assaults. Last week we heard the report of a serious sexual assault on Westgate Street.’

The trader told Bath Newseum that a report on Somerset Live said that, over the past twelve months, Bath has seen an increase in burglary of 31%. That there had been a very noticable rise in reported crime – seemingly since the closure of the City’s only Police Station.

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Bath Police Station used to be in Manvers Street.

‘How can it be possible for a major city, a World Heritage City which is one of this country’s main tourist locations, to not have a fully functioning Police Station.

It is an absolute outrage that through the incompetence of city management  this has been allowed to happen and it has quickly led to our city being seen as an easy target for criminals and has allowed and even encouraged increasingly more serious crime to occur.’

The trader – who didn’t want to be named – said he had written to Wera Hobhouse and Cllr Peter Turner to request that they lobby the Council Cabinet for a Police Station to be reinstated, to include a functioning custody suite with holding cells and let people have a greater Police presence within Bath, as a matter of utmost urgency.

I caught up with Lucy Simon who is Secretary of the Bath Independent Organisation which represents traders, hotels and restaurants in the town.

 

Toll house repairs begin next week.

Toll house repairs begin next week.

Monday, April 23rd. St George’s Day, Shakespeare’s birthday and also the day work will finally begin to repair Bath’s historic Cleveland Bridge Toll House which was damaged in an incident last year.

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The damaged toll house.

The specialist repair works are expected to last two weeks, with two-way temporary traffic signals operating 24/7.

Signals will be manually operated from 7am to 8pm weekdays and from 8am to 7pm over the weekend, in order to be as reactive to traffic conditions as possible and minimise delays.

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Prepare for hold-ups .

The work had to be rescheduled from March due to severe cold weather affecting specialist building materials. Historic England – which is overseeing the works – advised that the lime mortar would not set properly due to the temperatures being below five degrees centigrade.

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The last repair job to do at this busy junction,

Councillor Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe) Cabinet member for Transport and Environment, said: “These are essential works and unfortunately there will be delays but we ask drivers to be patient with us while the work is carried out. Extended working hours will be in operation in order that the works can be completed as quickly as possible and to minimise disruption.”

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Prepare for hold-ups .

The council has co-ordinated a series of roadworks in the London Road areas over recent weeks to minimise disruption. The main resurfacing works on London Road have been completed. The new loading bay works on London Road should be completed by the end of this week; with only yellow boxes and line markings left to do – this will involve only a partial closure of the A4 London Road West of the main traffic signals.  The A36 and East of the traffic signals will remain open under two way traffic control; these overnight works will start at 8pm and be completed before 6am.

Gas works have also been completed to avoid further disruption again later in the year.

The council’s Variable Message Signs located across various routes into Bath will display the latest information to drivers.

Bath Abbey going​ green.

Bath Abbey going​ green.

Bath Abbey’s been given the go-ahead to turn ‘green’! It’s been granted a ‘lease of rights’ by B&NES Council to use some of the energy in Bath’s famous hot springs for an innovative eco-heating system to heat the complex.

 

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The Sacred Spring

 

Every day, a quarter of a million gallons of hot water flow from the Sacred Spring underneath the Roman Baths complex and through the Great Roman Drain into the nearby River Avon.

This underground journey takes it directly past the Abbey. If harnessed correctly and converted as part of the Abbey and B&NES Council’s joint initiative, it could produce 1.5 megawatts of continuous energy – more than enough to heat the Abbey and surrounding buildings.

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Part of the Roman drainage system that the Abbey has been given permission to access with heat exchangers.

As part of the Abbey’s ambitious Footprint project – which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund – engineers plan to install heat exchangers in the Great Roman Drain which will capture the energy in the hot water and transform it into renewable energy. This will form part of a unique underground heating system that will be then used to heat the Abbey and other buildings.

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Charles Curnock, Project Director.

Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director from Bath Abbey, said: “This is a truly exciting and inventive way of tapping into Bath’s most famous resource to create sustainable energy. As far as we know, it has never been done before on this scale, and we are thrilled to be working with the Roman Baths and other departments of B&NES Council on this unique project.

“By granting us the lease of rights, the Council has set us on our way to providing a sustainable and eco-friendly solution for both the Abbey and the city of Bath by capturing this incredible and ancient natural resource which is currently unused.”

Charles Curnock added: “This a major change for the Abbey, but one which is vital now and for future generations. Our current heating system dates back to the Victorian era, is extremely inefficient and expensive to maintain. This combined with the work we’re doing as part of our wider Footprint project to repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor makes this the ideal time for us to consider a new underfloor heating system.”

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Bath Abbey – Looking East – proposed improvements.

The initial trials and investigations for the project have already taken place, and more planning and development is being carried out before further building work on the Abbey’s Footprint programme starts. Wessex Water will be digging and laying pipes that will carry hot water from the Roman Baths into the new eco-heating system. Any modern elements of the system would be hidden underground and an archaeologist will be working alongside the engineers to document any artefacts that may be uncovered by the required excavations.

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Bath’s MP, Wera Hobhouse.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for communities and local government said: “This is a progressive, sustainable project for the Abbey, yet remains quintessentially Bath. This collaboration is a real achievement, and everyone should feel proud that they are adding to Bath’s heritage in an environmentally friendly manner. Along with the wider Footprint Project, it will really add value to the city. I look forward to attending services knowing the building is heated by the same water to which Bath owes its very existence.”

To find out more about to support the Footprint project, visit www.bathabbey.org/footprint. Your donations will be generously matched by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation. This means that any donation you give to the Footprint project will automatically be doubled: if you donate £10, the Brownsword Charitable Foundation will also give £10 – your £10 donation is worth £20 to Footprint! Simply use the reference ‘FPBF’ when donating.

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About Bath Abbey’s Footprint

The £19.3 million Footprint project aims to carry out essential repairs to the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s unique hot springs as a source of energy and enlarge capacity by creating 200sq metres of new facilities to fulfil the Abbey as a place of congregation, equal access and hospitality. A programme is also planned to record and interpret the Abbey’s 1,200 years of history and this iconic church for millions of visitors including educational visits. Thanks to a grant of £10.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, additional funds from private individuals and trusts, as well as the Abbey’s own congregation and visitors, the Abbey now has just over £1 million left to raise.

For further details about Bath Abbey, please visit www.bathabbey.org

 

 

 

Raise a flag​ for Bath

Raise a flag​ for Bath

Back in the 18th century, when Thomas Baldwin built the Guildhall, Bath was very much a city in its own right. The current Bath-stone building replaced a Stuart Guildhall, which itself replaced an earlier Tudor structure.

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The Bath Guildhall

For centuries this has been the town hall and the residence of the Mayor of Bath. The current one – Cllr Ian Gilchrist – became the 790th mayor of the city when he was elected last June.

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The Mayor of Bath, Cllr Ian Gilchrist.

Bath was made a County Borough in 1889 and remained a city council until the demise of Avon and the arrival of the B&NES authority in 1996.

The Mayor is just a figurehead now – an ambassador for Bath – a civic leader with no real power but a rallying point for those with pride in their city.

A few months ago l was wonder why Bath didn’t have its own flag. You’ll see a Union flag and a rather limp logo for B&NES fluttering in the breeze above the city but – though there is a spare pole – no city flag.

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The empty flagpole on the Guildhall roof.

A bit of digging and l discover there is a flag – bearing the city’s coat of arms – but as the Guildhall is now the town hall for the whole of Bath and North East Somerset – it wouldn’t be appropriate to fly it above the building.

Unofficially, l have been told it is now regarded as the Mayor of Bath’s flag but – as the Mayor’s Parlour is STILL housed in the Guildhall – why can’t it fly on the roof in his ( or her) name?

Asking Bath Abbey to fly it on the day that the Mayor Making ceremony is happening within is also a good idea!

 

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Bath Abbey

 

I don’t think it is a bad thing to encourage people to take pride in the city of Bath. Indeed l have set out to fly the flag on my own flagpole at home.

I went to see Mr David Dixon at Minuteman Press in Walcot Street – himself a former councillor and now Honary Alderman – who very kindly ran me a little number from his stored image of the city’s coat of arms.

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Hon Alderman David Dixon holding the ‘official’ City of Bath flag he ‘ran off’ for me at Minuteman Press.

I am told you can’t copyright this flag because there are so many versions of the city’s coat of arms decorating various parts of the city – but l was also told you need the permission of the Mayor and his fellow Charter Trustees if you want to hoist your own version on high.

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This one is a bit different.

I sent an email a few weeks ago and am waiting to hear back.

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Another version.

Many Batb visitors buy souvenir flags when they are in the city. I am also hoping there might be a City of Bath flag on the racks soon for them to take away.

The version l have was featured in a previous article on Bath Newseum. Here is the text.

“You’ll come across various visual interpretations of Bath’s coat of arms around the city but the one l am showing you is based on the earliest depiction from 1568 in William Smith’s Particular Description of England – now in the British Museum.

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The official one!

The ownership of the crest is actually unclear as there is no longer a Bath City Council – the city is now part of a unitary authority which does not display the crest on its documents or website.

Let’s take you through the coat of arms from bottom to top.

The motto – Aqua Sulis or Waters of Sulus – is the Roman name for Bath.

A lion and a bear hold up the shield and stand on oak branches with acorns which are linked to King Bladud – the legendary founder of Bath – and the man feeding his pigs acorns when they ran off to discover the steaming mud and thermal waters of the hot springs.

The lion stands for bravery, valour, strength and royalty. The bear for strength, cunning and ferocity in the protection of one’s kindred.

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Another version.

The shield depicts the town wall, the mineral springs and River Avon and the sword of St Paul – one of the patron saints of Bath Abbey – which is also the town’s parish church.

The lion and bear also display the crossed sword and keys – representing both patron saints. St Peter – who held the keys to the kingdom of Heaven – shares the protection of the Abbey with St Paul.

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And another version

Above them, the crown of King Edgar – first king of all England – is held aloft by the arms of St Dunstan who performed his coronation in Bath in 973 AD.”

 

 

 

Grow petals – win prizes!

Grow petals – win prizes!

It’s not only Bath’s big formal public parks that can win awards for flower and shrub displays – there’s a chance now for green-fingered owners of everything from an allotment, a suburban garden or even a display of hanging baskets to win a cash prize too.

The annual competition run by Bath in Bloom is now open for entries.  There are categories for private gardens of all sizes.  Community groups, Allotment holders, Pubs and Businesses can also enter and a special category for children under 12 to plant a reused container. 

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Prior Park gardens were the Community group winners in 2017.

The competition is free to enter and open to anyone within the Bath and North East Somerset area. 

Winners will be awarded vouchers and an Aqua blue glass paperweight.

‘Bath in Bloom’s new Category for 2018 in the local Competition is ‘The Battle of the Flowers between Streets and Squares’     Jane Moore well known local gardener and writer will be the judge – so get together within your area – street, square or a row of shops and enter.   You could win £75 and a Silver Cup for a year.

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The Star Inn got its award for being the Best Pub without a Garden.

Entry is free  For full details look up Bath in Bloom on the Bathnes website.  

If you are looking for help the Parks department can provide hanging baskets and troughs of Floral Displays, handmade, watered and tailored for you please click here or email the Parks department via Council_Connect@Bathnes.gov.uk or telephone 01225 394041

Memorial mystery solved

Memorial mystery solved

I wasn’t too sure about what was going on regarding Bath’s War Memorial which is sited at the town entrance to Royal Victoria Park.

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Bath’s war memorial at the town end entrance to Royal Victoria Park.

It looked like one of the panels is missing?  The answer is on the B&NES website.

“Cleaning work and minor repairs are currently being carried out on Bath’s War Memorial ahead of the centenary of the end of the First World War when the city will honour those whose names are recorded on it.

The work has started on the memorial which is at the entrance to the Royal Victoria Park, in Royal Avenue. ”

Still think it might be a good idea to post a notice at the memorial to explain what is happening.

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What’s happened to our War Memorial – is there a plaque missing?

Meanwhile, l was getting to know a young urban gull at close quarters this morning – perched as it was on the balustrade at Grand Parade and beside Pulteney Bridge and Weir.

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Interesting to see that this young gull fledgeling has been tagged twice. What’s this all about?

Noticed that both its legs had been tagged. I am told the B&NES gull team don’t do this sort of thing so maybe someone may know where this bird has come from?