Gull measures to go to Council in New Year

Gull measures to go to Council in New Year


Bath and North East Somerset Council has issued a statement thanking the 50 or so residents, business owners and visitors who came together this week to discuss how to tackle the urban gull population in the city. Those present included representatives from other councils, pest control organisations and universities.seagulls

Today's debate at the Guildhall.

Wednesday’s debate at the Guildhall.

The scrutiny inquiry day at the Guildhall – aimed at reducing the gulls’ food source caused by litter and exposed waste – heard a range of views and ideas put forward for potential actions to tackle the gull menace.

These will now be considered in detail by the Panel and a report agreed in the New Year for presentation to the Council’s Cabinet.




Corps – What a Year!

Corps – What a Year!

The Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides – which gives free tours around the World Heritage city on 364 days of the year – is celebrating a bumper season.

The number of visitors and locals taken on daily tours of  its historic streets was 34,000 compared to 30,875 the year before.

Guides gathering for the annual general meeting of the historic Corps.

Guides gathering for the annual general meeting of the historic Corps.

The annual general meeting, held recently at the Guildhall, heard that numbers were only 8 to 900 below two seasons ago which was a record year.

There has also been a surge of new members with 80 active guides now on duty and that includes nine new guides.

The Corps also do special Summer walks and do take group bookings.

Terry Mitchell - one of the longest serving members of the Honorary Corps - taking visitors on a two hour tour of the city.

Terry Mitchell – one of the longest serving members of the Honorary Corps – taking visitors on a two hour tour of the city.

Next year will also mark the 80th year of the organisation which got its earliest mention in the city minutes in 1934 with a note from Alderman Thomas Sturge Cotterell thanking the guides who had shown groups of visitors around Bath on Christmas and Easter mornings that year.

Alderman Cotterell – who served as Mayor of Bath – played an important role in how much of the city’s modern tourist industry was promoted. He got a reputation himself for leading personal tours of the city.

Back in 1922, when Bath held a Dicken’s Festival over the Christmas period, Councillor ( as he then was ) Cotterell – who was a great fan of our Victorian novelist – led a December walk to visit places in Bath associated with him.

These Christmas walks continued and grew throughout the 1920’s and there are records to show Sturge Cotterell led Boxing Day tours every year up to the Second World War.

An example of a commemorative plaque erected to mark the home of Elizabeth Linley.

An example of a commemorative plaque erected to mark the home of Elizabeth Linley.

He was also chairman of the Mural Tablets Committee of the City Council and produced a historical map and booklet listing all the bronze plaques erected to commemorate the residences of the famous.

The board giving all information about the daily tours is outside the Pump Room. That's where people meet for tours at 10.30 and 2pm daily.

The board giving all information about the daily tours is outside the Pump Room. That’s where people meet for tours at 10.30 and 2pm daily.

Sturge Cotterell died in 1950 in his 85th year and must certainly be acknowledged as the ‘Father’ of  modern tourism promotion in the city and beyond and instigator of a voluntary service that grew into the Mayor’s Corps of Honorary Guides.

Next year the Guides are planning special walks which will take in many of the historic personalities whose names are recorded on the bronze plaques.

Maybe another should be added on 22 Pulteney Street  where Sturge Cotterell and his family lived.

More information about the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides via their website 

Foot notes!

Foot notes!

Pavement graffiti outside the Abbey

Pavement graffiti outside the Abbey

Interesting to note that while the Daily Telegraph continues to sponsor its very worthy annual Bath Festival  of Children’s Literature – it’s efforts  to encourage reading amongst young people in Bath and North East Somerset has extended to what some would call vandalism.


High Street/Cheap Street junction.

Scattered around the core of our inner World-Heritage city are street stencils promoting the event.

You’ll find little pavement reminders outside the Guildhall, the Pump Room and the Abbey.

Outside the Pump Room

Outside the Pump Room

Sorry if l have missed any – l didn’t have time to hunt for more –  but isn’t this what they call graffiti? (‘Writings or drawings on a surface in a public space’…according to the Pocket Oxford English Dictionary).

Are we a little guilty here of sending mixed messages to our young and literate citizens.

Another outside the Tourist Office!

Another outside the Tourist Office!

Another pavement 'tag'

Another pavement ‘tag’

It’s ok for adults to deface the pavements around sensitive historic areas – but don’t you do it!

I mean B&NES already employs a Graffiti Unit to deal with such illegal daubing. Today, with all the rain, l went back to see if the ‘chalk’ had washed it all away. It is NOT chalk! You cannot rub it out with your feet – even on a wet paving slab. This is defacement on a grand scale.

Spotted near the Cross Bath

Spotted near the Cross Bath

Maybe, while we are on the subject, they might like to clear up some even more distinct promotional ‘graffiti’ l also discovered lurking in ‘colourful’ patches elsewhere .

Near the Spa shop

Near the Spa shop

The ‘Purple Flag’ logos left over from the launch of the campaign – organised by Bath Business Improvement District – to highlight the ‘vibrancy’ of the city’s night-time economy and how well-managed it is. This time outside the historic Cross Bath.

I feel sorry for the seagulls who usually get all the blame for blotting our landscape.

There is too much street ‘furniture’ as it is without adding to the messy obstacle course of roads and pavements and courtyards – listed or not.

New floor for ‘star’ chamber

New floor for ‘star’ chamber

What is regarded by many as Bath‘s finest interior looks like getting a bit of a major overhaul. Bath and North East Somerset Council is putting in a planning application to itself to replace the flooring in the City’s magnificent Banqueting Hall. IMG_4627

It’s the star attraction within The Guildhall which was built in the late 18th Century and given additional wings in the late 19th.

Michael Forsyth – in his Pevsner Architectural Guide to Bath – describes this crystal-chandelier-hung space as ‘ a masterpiece of up-to-the-minute late 18th century  decoration.’

The Banqueting Hall – or Ball Room – has seen many formal mayors’ dinners in its time.

Forsyth says it forms part of a ‘immensely extravagant building (which) may also be regarded as a riposte to the Upper Assembly Rooms from which many civic dignitaries, mainly tradespeople, were socially excluded.’

IMG_4630The application to get planning permission to replace the floor also applies to renovations needed on the grand staircase – constructed of Dutch oak.

Of course the flooring is not contemporary with the original construction of the central portion of the Guildhall.

A spokesman for the Council told the Virtual Museum:

‘The existing floor has been in place since circa 1923 and has sustained heavy use in that 90 year period, meaning it is nearing the end of its useable life.IMG_4628

We are at the early investigation stages of proposed works to replace the existing timber floor with floor boards in an appropriate manner to reflect one of the finest Georgian interiors in Bath.’

Yours truly!

Yours truly!

A fascinating and unique glimpse into Bath’s tourist attractions around the time of Jane Austen is revealed in a letter recently acquired by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Record Office.

P1020864The letter was written by Bath holidaymaker Edward Appleton to the American consul Thomas Aspinwall shortly before the consul’s wife and children were to arrive in Bath to spend the winter of 1819.

In the handwritten letter, Mr Appleton remarks: “From what we have seen of the place, I feel convinced Mrs Aspinwall could not have chosen a place in England where she could pass the time of your absence more comfortably. This is truly a city of lodgings.”

Other words of advice in the letter, dated 24 October 1819, were not to bring any unnecessary equipment for a winter stay as everything was provided at Bath lodging-houses, including cooks and housemaids.  The only exception suggested was to bring one’s own silverware, presumably for entertaining.P1020869

Colin Johnston, Principal Archivist at Bath & North East Somerset Council, enthused: “It is so rare to find observations from Georgian times on what a tourist in Bath should expect. We are also told the markets are good value; the lodging-house keepers are good cooks and civil; and, most intriguingly, Bath is recommended as a fine place for children as the streets are all paved over.”

The letter is available to view online via the Council’s Bath Record Office website

You can also see the original letter in the Bath Record Office at the Guildhall. The Record Office is open for research from Tuesday to Friday each week, except the third full week of the month. For more information visit the website or call 01225 477421.

Northumberland Place restoration underway

Northumberland Place restoration underway

IMG_4660 The boards were coming off the fire gutted premises of Nicholas Wylde the Jewellers in Northumberland Place today (Tuesday) and it looks as if the restoration of the shop –  severely damaged by a night-time blaze at the beginning of May –  is now underway.IMG_4661

The business moved to temporary accommodation at  21/22 The Corridor where it has continued but it is hoped renovations will be completed in time for a return to the shop in Northumberland Place in January/February of next year.

IMG_4658Outside the Guildhall the disputed cycle hub – recently the focus of a battle between advertising bikes and genuine cyclists – was discovered taped and closed to everyone today.

No explanation given but maybe it’s a subtle way of trying to persuade those occupying precious cycle spaces to look elsewhere.

While at the top of Cheap Street Council workmen are installing some sort of traffic restricting pillars to help control flow and make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians.IMG_4663

IMG_4662Now the Virtual Museum does not subscribe encouraging anyone to deface a traffic sign l can imagine that anyone being whacked by this traffic barrier – at the back of the Mineral Water Hospital – while its in operation might feel a little emotional!

Meet the Bouchards!

Meet the Bouchards!

P1060214 It’s certainly an unusual setting in which to meet a father and daughter duo of artists – with very different styles  – but Bristol’s  now disused gothic-style Guildhall is hosting their first joint exhibition.

Harriet Dahan-Bouchard and her Bath-based father Philip have set up shop amid the now empty court rooms, judges chambers and prison cells.

It’s apparently the earliest Gothic town hall in England and is now being transformed into a vibrant community arts space until redevelopment of the site gets underway next year.

Subject to planning permission this amazingly quirky building could become a five-star hotel.P1060226

But back to our father and daughter exhibitors. Philip has specialised in surrealism for the past forty years. A gateway, he says for him to escape into an imaginary world of his own making. Most of his work is for private clients.

P1060222However, in 2005, he was shortlisted as a finalist in the Daily Mail ‘Not the Turner Prize‘ at the Mall Galleries in London. He has since exhibited at Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery and the Cheltenham Art Gallery.

Daughter Harriet decided at the age of eight what she wanted to do when she grew up. Having completed three years training in Florence she is now based in Bath and working as a portrait painter.P1060223

She has already attracted a number of commissions including a portrait for the Lord Chief Justice.

I met them this week for an impromptu chat at the Guildhall.

Meet the Bouchards – A Surreal Experience is at the old Bristol Guildhall until September 29th. Go in through the Small Street entrance from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday or on Sunday September 29th between 10 am and 4pm.

Contact details for Harriet via or and for Philip via or