Welcome Centre role for old Toll House

Welcome Centre role for old Toll House

The latest volunteer project on the Kennet and Avon Canal has been handed over to  the Canal and River Trust.

It’s involved the rescue and conservation of the old Toll House at Dundas Wharf which the  CRT are to use as a new Welcome Centre at this busy and historic point on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

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The old toll house at Dundas Wharf – prior to renovation.

My thanks to Ian Herve – himself a volunteer with the Trust – for the following report:

“The history of this small building is not entirely clear but dates from the time when the direct transhipment of coal from the Somertshire Coal Canal was ended due to the logistical problems at Combe Hay. 

This occurred in 1818 when the Kennet and Avon Canal Company was obliged to construct the Wharf and basin at Dundas and start to gauge the coal barges from this Toll House.  The carriers were charged by weight and distance travelled.

The toll house fell into disuse after the Coal Canal closed in 1898.  It was put to various ancilliary uses over the years by, initially,  the GWR and then British Waterways. 

  The photograph below was taken in the mid-1990s when some of the fabric remained.  After this time the internal furniture was stripped out and the sash windows and even the guttering was removed.

Some years ago the roof was replaced with new slate and timber but nothing more was done until the last year.  CRT agreed to fund the replacement of the windows and volunteers from both the K & A Canal Trust and CRT, who work together along the canal, undertook to complete the extensive restoration work.

This involved the construction of a “defensive” wall and kerb to prevent the lorries that clear waste from the wharf colliding with the corner near the access lane.  This had caused damage in the past and resulted in the corner stonework being dislodged.

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Volunteers hard at work on the restoration.

The whole façade was repointed, the internal walls rebuilt and the new windows installed.  A new terrace at the front was constructed.

Below you can see the finished building decked out for the opening.

Martin Veal, Councillor for Bathavon North and Cabinet Member for Community Services, joined forces with Mark Evans, the CRT Waterways manager for the Kennet and Avon Canal, to cut the ribbon and declare it open for business.  They were joined by Peter Turner, councillor for Abbey Ward and Advocate for Heritage and Culture, David Laming, Chair of the River Regeneration Trust, and Bryan Chalker, Ex-mayor of Bath and long-time campaigner for the conservation of Bath’s industrial heritage.

A large crowd of invited guests from across the canal world were in attendance and they were treated to refreshments and a short trip along the canal aboard one of the K & A canal trust trip boats which had driven down from Bradford on Avon for the event.

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Decked out and ready for its new role.

Most of all, though, the day belonged to the group of volunteers who undertake many types of roles along the canal, all the way to Hanham Lock, the westward extent of the K & A Canal.  Over the last years they have repainted all of the locks from Hanham to Bath Top Lock and the swing bridges to Dundas.

  The junction of the canal and river in Bath has been brought back to life and the old workman’s “hovel” at the George Public House  in Bathampton rescued from decay.

There is much more that they want to do and yesterday served as an opportunity to both celebrate past work and concentrate influential minds on what needs to be done for the future.

Details of how to join the volunteers can be found by accessing the CRT website: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer or email to Trevor Clark, the local lead volunteer at: t.clark603@btinternet.com”

What’s your view on the river?

What’s your view on the river?

Water taxis and transporting refuse waste – just two of the ideas for finding new ways of using Bath’s waterways –  that l discussed with the man ‘chairing’ a group who are charged with transforming and revitalising the river and canal systems.

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L to R. Dave Laming, River Regeneration Trust; Nick Rowson, Atkins; John Wilkinson, B&NES; and Cllr Martin Veal, Chair of the Strategic River Group. Photo © paulgillisphoto.com

Cllr Martin Veal – who is Cabinet Member for Community Services – has been appointed Chair of the Strategic River Group which has been set up to look at the matter – but they want the public to have a big say in how Bath uses its water spaces.

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Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency, and Wessex Water will work together in a jointly funded Water Space Study, with the support of ongoing research from the River Regeneration Trust.

Water Space Study Launch

From left to right: Patrick Moss, Atkins (who is from Moss Naylor Young ltd, a sub-consultant to Atkins) Zoe Hancock, BANES,John Wilkinson, BANES, Jim Collings, BANES, David Crowson, Environment Agency, Cllr Martin Veal, BANES, Dave Laming, River Regeneration Trust, Nick Rowson, Atkins, Cleo Newcombe-Jones, BANES, Mark Minkley, BANES, Jeremy Taylor, Environment Agency, Ruth Barden, Wessex Water, Tim Hewitt, BANES.

Historically rivers and canals were heavily used for industry, business and trade, but they are now used increasingly for leisure and wellbeing, sports and recreation, so the study will gather new evidence about how the waterways are now being used.

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Engaging with local communities, it will look at the diverse range of opportunities along the River Avon between Bath and Keynsham, and along the Kennet and Avon Canal between Deep Lock and Limpley Stoke Viaduct.IMG_5713

The Water Space Study will also be informed by the continuing work of the Council and the Environment Agency to investigate options for managing flood risk.

Councillor  Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) said: “All of the project partners are keen to engage with everyone who has an interest in the river and canal within our communities, including businesses, the construction industry, landowners, sports clubs, boaters and local groups.

“We want to make sure that local people play a key part in finding more ways for everyone to safely enjoy our fantastic waterways in a way that benefits the environment and the local economy.

I met him for a chat in Parade Gardens.

As soon as we find out more about how and when you can contribute the Virtual Museum will let you know! Please let me know your views in the meantime.

Convenience store

Convenience store

A former public loo in Larkhall is being given a new lease of life thanks to Bath & North East Somerset Council and two enterprising local women.

The former public convenience in Larkhall.

The former public convenience in Larkhall.

The toilets, at Larkhall Square, were in poor repair and were closed in July 2014. Local residents, Lucinda Niel and Kirstie Clarke, put forward a proposal to run a small shop and maintain a public toilet on the site.

The Council agreed to carry out the conversion works, which have now been completed. Credit must also be given to two former local councillors – Bryan Chalker and Dave Laming – who lent their active support to saving the building.

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative Bathavon North), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “We wanted to see the former public convenience put to good use. By working with the new tenants we have been able to ensure a public toilet is maintained on the site, as well as providing a new shop for local people.”

The tenants have now picked up the keys and are busy fitting out their lifestyle shop, which will sell children’s toys, gifts and homeware.

The doorway into the new shop unit!

The doorway into the new shop unit!

The free unisex public toilet, which is disability compliant and has baby changing facilities, will be open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.
The tenants will be in charge of unlocking, locking, cleaning and supplying soap and toilet rolls.

The toilets and shop are expected to open later this month.

Square deal

Square deal

Left to right. Cllr Bryan Chalker and Dave Laming

Left to right. Cllrs Bryan Chalker and Dave Laming. Click on images to enlarge.

After more than a year of discussion and planning by the Lambridge Independent Councillors Dave Laming and Bryan Chalker work at last gets underway on providing a new toilet and shop in Larkhall Square.

Dave Laming said “It’s been a long wait for the residents of Larkhall, but I’m sure it will be a great asset to our village square.”

A planning application has now been submitted by the prospective tenants to run a new shop selling homeware, toys and gifts alongside one refurbished unisex toilet cubicle for public use.

Upping the score at Larkhall FC

Upping the score at Larkhall FC

A little reminder of how community spirit and local pride – wrapped up with sport – is very much a  part of our shared city heritage.

Larkhall Football Club is celebrating its centenary this year – 2014 – and currently running twelve football teams – with youngsters starting at the age of six.

Larkhall football club

From left to right. Matty Byrne Project 28, Cllr Dave Laming, Liz Ball manager of Project 28, Wayne Thorne manager of Larkhall FC, Scott Lye captain of Larkhall 1st team, Cllr Martin Veal Chairman of B&NES and Jessica Elmer from Project 28. Regards

Local Independent councillor Dave Laming has now provided sponsorship to allow the Club to get involved with Project 28 – a small charitable association that apparently truly cares for youngsters between the ages of seven and seventeen who have lost their way through substance or alcohol abuse – either directly or through third party influence.

Cllr Laming is pictured here with Larkhall Football Club and Project 28 officials, the Chairman of B&NES, Cllr Martin Veal, and the Project 28 stripe – to celebrate the new connection. The team won 3 – 1 in their first game too!