On Parade.

On Parade.

Parks Department gardeners were hard at work again today getting plantings in Parade Gardens ready for this weekend’s big Bath Spring Fayre.


The ‘fallow’ square bed by the bandstand has been planted up. The metal work is for gazebos being erected near by.

True to their word a new border has been installed around the sunny side of what is left of the Monk’s Mill and other empty beds filled with plants.


The new planting around part of the Monk’s Mill ruin.

Though the metal quill has gone last year’s Jane Austen book has been retained for a new display.

It’s all about owls this year with a new charity sculpture of Sulis Minerva’s little friend popping up around the city – and individually decorated – to raise money for charity. There will be one joining the book a little later in the season but – for now – the bed in front has been newly planted.


The book is going to have an ow;l design this year – but that will be done a little later this season and after the Spring Fayre has been cleared away.

Marquees and tents are going up for the various attractions which include heritage plant sales, artisan crafts and gifts and children’s entertainment.



The information board at No 4 needs attention.

Meanwhile, another feature in a little garden – not too far away – could do with a ‘spring clean’.


The information board is unreadable!

The information board – at the entrance to the Georgian garden at Number 4 The Circus – could do with a wipe as sap and dust have combined to make it nearly unreadable. I am told the Parks Department have the matter in hand!


Two-way traffic’s back on Cleveland Bridge.

Two-way traffic’s back on Cleveland Bridge.

The temporary traffic lights – which caused rush-hour holdups on Cleveland Bridge – are now gone. Work on the damaged toll house will continue for a week or so.


The temporary traffic lights – and scaffolding – has gone.

I was told when the lights would go good in an interview with James Byrne who is Project Directing the repairs to the toll house – on the London Road side of the bridge – which was badly damaged during a traffic incident.


The damaged toll house.

The bridge – and it’s four Greek Doric-styled lodges – was built for the Duke of Cleveland on the site of an ancient ferry crossing – back in 1827. It is one of the finest late-Georgian bridges – in Greek Revival style – which combines the antique with the use of new materials.


Some of the damaged section that has needed replacement.

It’s 30-metre cast-iron span has since been strengthened and restored.

Work on repairing the damaged section has been causing lengthy rush-hour queues but James Byrne told Bath Newseum why the traffic control has been necessary. Apologies for the noise but – if you are a motorist using this road – you will know what it is like!

Many of the construction photos are courtesy of Mr James Byrne MSc MRICS.

Pools Trust is​ back in the swim.

Pools Trust is​ back in the swim.

It wasn’t the best of presents to receive just before Christmas. Cleveland Pools Trust and their many supporters ended 2017 on a real downer after hearing that their application for Heritage Lottery funding to restore these unique pools had been rejected.

However, the HLF held out a glimmer of hope when – at a meeting with the Trust in January this year – officials confirmed that they considered the approved plans set out a really strong foundation for the future of the pools – but there were outstanding issues that needed managing first.


Cleveland Pools © Cleveland Pools Trust

Buoyed on by this the Trust has just submitted another application to the HLF.

A spokesperson told Bath Newseum:

“Since the New Year, the trustees have been working hard to address these issues. Councillors and senior officers of Bath and North East Somerset have committed support and work by Curo to repair the retaining wall on the site is about to start.
On Thursday 15 March the Trust submitted another application to the HLF. This application is the first round and will enable the Trust to prepare and submit a second-round application which, if successful, will release funds to carry out the restoration of the pools.

If successful with the new submission the programme is as follows:
Achieve HLF approval; December 2018
Confirm project funding; spring 2019
Issue tender documents; autumn 2019
Commence works on site; spring 2020
Open the Pools to the public; summer 2021.
The trustees are extremely grateful for the enthusiasm expressed by supporters and will continue to work with them to achieve a very special facility for local people and visitors. A liaison group of key stakeholders including close neighbours will be established under an independent chair, to work with the Trust and contractors to ensure that the construction period goes as smoothly as possible.
Chair of the Trust, Paul Simons, said: “The Cleveland Pools Trust has been delighted with the re-affirmation of support for the project from its many hundreds of enthusiasts: local residents and volunteers, swimmers, families and schools, heritage campaigners, and those who have pledged to support the project financially. We are determined to work with them to achieve a truly remarkable and unique facility”.
For your further information:

The Cleveland Pools Trust has been running a campaign to save the 200-year-old riverside pools on the eastern edge of Bath in Somerset for 13 years.
The Cleveland Pools are the oldest surviving open-air public swimming pools in the UK. Their rich social history dates back to the Regency period during King George III’s reign. ‘The Cleveland Pleasure Baths’ – as they were known for many years – were opened originally in 1817 to gentlemen bathers only, funded with private subscriptions from ‘the great and the good’ of Bath.
The Cleveland Pools site is listed Grade 2-star by Historic England and is one of only two buildings situated in the World Heritage Site of the City of Bath that appear on the national ‘Buildings at Risk’ register.
Plans are to include a 25-metre pool and a smaller children’s pool which would both be heated during the summer months. A Kiosk cafe and terrace are also proposed, along with full access for those with impaired mobility. On-site works would have been due to commence in November 2018 for an Easter 2020 completion.
The scheme has received overwhelming public support which demonstrates the huge demand for outdoor swimming to be restored to the citizens of Bath and North East Somerset.
The scheme for restoration has been granted full planning permission and listed building consent by Bath & North East Somerset Council. The council is also the owner of the site.
Look up their website – www.clevelandpools.org.uk. 



Turning the pages at Chapter One

Turning the pages at Chapter One

Michael and Emma Heap at Chapter One Pub on the London Road – once upon a time the Hanover Hotel – have now extended their opening hours to Wednesday evenings as well.

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So co-founder of Akeman Press, Kirsten Elliott, is offering four history talks on four Wednesdays – 14th and 28th of February, 14th and 28th March. Called A Step to the Bath, the talks will examine what it would have been like to visit Bath during its Georgian heyday.

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The first one is about the state of roads and dangers of travel. Not for nothing did people make their wills before setting out on a journey. Floods, mud, and highwaymen were just three of the perils of a trip to Bath.

The second is about finding lodgings, why inns were not hotels, how lodgings worked, and some of the trials and tribulations, from delinquent servants to noisy neighbours.

The third is about the various entertainments and social life. Everything from riding schools to balls will be covered, not to mention gambling – both licit and illicit. And of course, the varied delights of the pleasure gardens will feature.

The last talk deals with the dangerous side of Bath – crime, including duels (and why Nash banned them), prostitution, street crime etc.

The price doesn’t include drinks but there will be handouts. If you want to book in advance, it’s £20 for all 4, £5.50 for individual booked talks, and £6 on the door.

Either email Kirsten or book at the pub. The talks will last an hour – then you’re free to enjoy some of the amazing range of drinks at the bar!

Old KES Junior School now secured!

Old KES Junior School now secured!

Good to know they’ve sent someone in to secure this historic building once more – but it was a  shame to have been once again writing about another architectural piece of Bath’s heritage under threat. Anyone walking in Broad Street on Thursday would have seen that the old KES Junior School had been vandalised.


The old KES Junior School – by Thomas Jelly – in Broad Street.

A door had been forced – leaving the 18th century Grade 2* listed building vulnerable to further vandalism or squatters.


A side door has been completely smashed.

This school taught King Edward’s pupils from 1754 to 1986 and was sold eventually to Samuel Smith’s Brewery in Yorkshire.


You can now see right inside the building.

I  left a message on the answerphone in their press office and hoped someone will get back to me. They didn’t!

The gradual decay of this building has been of great concern. Its owners have so far appeared in no rush to do anything with it or sell it on.


The building has been secured again – but won’t someone make the brewery who own it DO something with it soon!

At least the building has now been made secure. Adrian Nelson who is Senior Conservation Officer for B&NES told Bath Newseum:

“I have been in contact with the local retained architects and they have informed me that they are aware of the situation and securing the building.

Many thanks for your interest and informing us of this for which we are very grateful.”

It’s time Samuel Smith’s Brewery either bring forward proposals or sell this historic building to someone who will preserve its future.


Get out of Bath!

Get out of Bath!

Christmas excesses and New Year resolutions could both lead you to consider a late stocking filler which offers you fourteen different scenic and historic walking routes out of Bath to help you feel both fresher and fitter as 2018 begins.

We tend to get a little city-centric here with so much in the way of thermal waters, Georgian architecture, parks and Roman ruins to indulge in.

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Author, Andrew Swift.

Author Andrew Swift has spent years both walking and researching ways in which you can expand your energies, and enrich mind and body, by getting out and appreciating – on foot – the beautiful countryside that surrounds our World Heritage city.


Andrew’s newly published book on Bath walks!

He reminds us that his book allows us to reconnect with what was many an 18th century visitor’s most pleasurable indulgence – walking in the countryside.


The first route in the book!

His book is well illustrated, informative and easy to read and carry with you. Andrew points out that the route maps in it are not intended as navigational aids. A detailed map is all but essential on all except the first four walks. An OS Explorer or AA Walker’s Map should do the trick.

I met him in Kingston Parade – the place all fourteen walks begin.

More information via https://www.akemanpress.com/

Bath’s Viking history.

Bath’s Viking history.

Today l came face to face with a small – but important – part of Bath’s history.

It lies encased in shaped polystyrene – and stored in the vaults of the Roman Baths Museum – but this is not a relic from the city’s imperial past – nor an object from its Georgian period.


The black patina finish still has a sheen.

It’s a well-preserved tenth-century Scandinavian-styled sword and was found after excavations in front of what’s left of the town wall in Upper Borough Walls back in 1981.

This high-status Viking weapon was expensively made from crucible steel but ended up dumped in a ditch outside Bath’s Saxon wall.


The handle is believed to have been wound with silver thread.

Had it been kept as an heirloom, stolen and hidden or lost in a skirmish between Danish raiders and Anglo Saxons.

Once upon a time a replica was displayed near what remains on the city wall but now both lie hidden. We have a glorious museum to set off our wonderful Roman Baths and are surrounded by splendid Georgian architecture but there is not a Museum of Bath to display treasures that don’t fit into tourist-driven visible history.

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The inscription reads ‘Ulfbehrt made me’ n Latin. Did it come from one of the finest workshops of early medieval Germany or was it made in England?

Maybe one day the Viking sword will have a more visible resting place but do click on the link below to hear Roman Baths Collections Assitant Zofia Matyjaszkiewicz tell us why the sword is dated to the Viking period. She is holding a replica of the real sword which rests beside her on the table.