Haircut 200

Haircut 200

My thanks to Jenny Noad for these pictures – taken in The Circus yesterday.

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Photo. Jenny Noad.

Jenny writes: “Interesting to see that beautiful, infamous Plane trees in the Circus are having their health check-up. Thankfully, they are thriving and well! 

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Photo: Jenny Noad.

They are the biggest trees in Bath, are great for absorbing pollution from the City.  The tree surgeon told me he thinks they are about 200 years old!”

All will be revealed.

All will be revealed.

Prepare for the east end of Bath Abbey to disappear behind hoarding in about six weeks or so as building contractors Emery’s get down to the business of starting to lift memorial or ledger stones.

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The first part of Bath Abbey to be affected by the floor reconstruction work.

The local building firm has won a multi-million-pound contract to secure the unstable Abbey floor, install new heating – tapped from Bath’s thermal waters –  and construct various new facilities for staff, choir and visitors.

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Some sort of temporary altar will have to be set up.

It’s going to take several years to complete the job but the first area to be tackled – the east end –  will mean moving the high altar and choir nearer to the congregation so work can begin behind the screens.

The Abbey is insisting that – though facilities may be restricted at times – it WILL be business as usual and they will even be continuing their Tower Tours.

 

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The trial work of 2013

 

A few years ago Emery’s were involved in a trial piece of work carried out to test the technique of injecting a liquid agent into the cavities that had formed amongst the thousands of burials under the floor.

 

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Drilling holes for the fluid injections of August 2013

 

It fills and hardens and so stabilises the floor. In doing the work they had taken up a fair few memorial or ledger stones which were relaid afterwards.

Many more stones lie beneath the nave pews and – now they will gradually be permanently removed – many more ledger stones will be seen for the first time in 150 years.

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The central aisle inside Bath Abbey

Emery’s initial work was watched by a young local man involved in writing a dissertation for a Master of  Arts degree as part of his architectural studies.

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Ian Parkes – now employed by Bath-based architectural firm Stride Treglown – based his thesis on an area of Abbey flooring. It was called “The Stone remains – Mapping Place at Bath Abbey.”

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He was back in the building today to lead a tour of local people interested in hearing more about the ledger stones and what they told us of the Abbey and its social and spiritual history.

One of those in Ian’s group today was the Abbey’s Interpretation Officer, Dr Oliver Taylor. He and a grou of volunteers have been busy recording the details of all the ledger stones currently visible in the Abbey.

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There will be many more to record as the pews are gradually removed. However, as the stones themselves will have to come up – so the floor can be stabilised – will they be going back where they were.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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!

 

Toll house repairs continue this week.

Toll house repairs continue this week.

Monday, April 23rd. St George’s Day, Shakespeare’s birthday was 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.

Water disappointment.

Water disappointment.

Once every week l join other volunteers who gather to show our visitors – and some locals – around this great city of Bath.

We’re officially members of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides – about 85 people who turn out in all weathers, throughout the year and accept no fee or tip.

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Our Tuesday morning gathering – outside the Pump Room at 10.30 am.

Our Tueasday morning group of five – in high season – can divide up to one hundred people between us for a two-hour tour – on foot – of this World Heritage status city.

It follows that many have a keen interest in local history and some have developed that in print. Fellow guide and local historian Colin Fisher is one of them.

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Colin Fisher’s book on Stefano Pieroni – published by Akeman Press in 2014.

Back in 2014, he published a book about an Italian immigrant to Bath called Signor Stefano Vallerio Pieroni who lived here from 1848 until his death in 1900.

Never heard of him? That must be true for most people. There’s plenty of architectural evidence remaining of the work of celebrity locals like John Wood and son but little to show for the efforts of this itinerant seller of plaster figures who set up shop in his adopted home.

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What remains of Pieroni’s fountain alongside Bog Island.

Most people getting off the coaches around Terrace Walk will spare little more than a glance at the modest little fountain alongside the abandoned underground loos that have given the Bog Island nickname to this location. Indeed – l am sure there are many arriving who wished they were still working – but that’s another story.

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Pieroni’s re-modelled fountain in Stall Street with Prince Bladud on top. © Christopher Wheeler

This was originally located at the Roman Bath’s end of Bath Street and – though topped now with an urn – was originally crowned with a statue of King Bladud, the legendary Celtic founder of Bath. That statue is now in Parade Gardens – keeping company with a stone pig.

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Prince Bladud is now in Parade Gardens.

If you don’t know the story already – a thousand years before the Romans came to Bath Prince Bladud – thrown out of his father’s kingdom as he’d caught leprosy on a trip to Greece –  was sitting on a local hillside feeding acorns to his flock of pigs.

Suddenly the animals broke away – only to run down the slopes and discover the thermal waters. They had caught leprosy off their royal swine herdsman minder and the waters cured it – after a bit of rolling in the hot mud. They did the same for the prince’s affliction.

Those health-giving qualities have been promoted ever since – whether you were a Roman soldier, medieval merchant, Georgian aristocrat or Victorian visiting professional.

Signor Pieroni was called in to re-model a controversial fountain that had only been commissioned three years previously at its original Stall Street location.

From time to time Bath develops a ‘yearning’ for fountain building. I can see why – l have a bee in my own bonnet today – about the lack of public ways of celebrating our natural gift of gushing springs – both hot and cold.

In the 1850’s you could describe the urge to do something grand as fountain mania. One proposal wanted a series of fountains cascading down from Lansdown, with fountains in St James’s Square, in front of the Royal Crescent and near the obelisk in Royal Victoria Park.

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Royal Crescent

This got whittled down to putting something in the city centre that would dispense and promote Bath’s famous ‘health-giving’ hot mineral waters.

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The original Tite Mineral Water Fountain in Stall Street. © BathinTime http://www.bathintime.co.uk

I rather like the look of the Tite Mineral Water Fountain of 1856 but the ‘powers that be’ did not and Signor Pieroni was called in to help remodel it.

Putting King Bladud on top went down well with most Bathonians. When you’re ‘pushing’ the many delights of a Georgian-dressed spa town a little fable – viewed through the mists of time (and the steam from the hot water) – goes a long way.

Pieroni’s Stall Street fountain was – and still is – part of the city’s dilemma about fountains. It cannot make its mind up about whether they should be promoted or not.

Though – in its original location – it was one of the city’s most iconic landmarks – problems with the supply of mineral water and maintenance costs condemned it to a dry and ivy-covered future.

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A postcard view of the ivy-covered fountain in Stall Street in 1915.

The fountain enclosure was filled with potted plants, Bladud removed to a private garden and an urn put in his place. A jump in time to 1989 and finally the fountain was dismantled, repaired, cleaned and re-erected on its present site on Bog Island – between Terrace Walk and Parade Gardens.

The statue was moved to Parade Gardens where the legend lives on – beside the fast flowing waters of the Celtic-named River Avon (Afon).

I have recently been down to look at what is left of Pieroni’s original celebration-in-stone of Bath’s sparkling waters and am sorry to say it is starting to crumble.

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More crumbling stonework about to fall?

There was fallen masonry lying near the modest fountain enclosure and its condition must raise concern within our currently cash-strapped council.

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I took author Colin Fisher to have a look and asked him what he thought.

 

Meanwhile, another of Bath’s underwhelming fountains continues to languish and disintegrate. The Laura Place  ‘ashtray’ was recently filled for its seasonal start-up but no water has flowed since.

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Filled but not functioning?

Has the pump broken down again? The fountain basin bears more chips and evidence that a screw and raw plug may have contributed to one loss of masonry.

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Looks like the screw and raw plug may have contributed to this disintegration.

Is this another fountain bowl destined to be filled with flowers?

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More chipping on the Laura Place fountain.

We’re never going to see a Trevi fountain in Bath l know, but l still feel developers should be encouraged to include water in their commercial endeavours.

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A day in the ‘life-cycle’ of a much-abused fountain.

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Nothing original about this vandalism. It wrecks havoc with the pump which the ratepayer has to pay to repair or replace.

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Another Laura Place fountain re-interpretation.

Why no fountain in Southgate or no feature in the re-modelled Saw Close – or even down at Riverside?

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The Saw Close re-modelling.

Who will save Pieroni’s Fountain and rescue the poor specimen in Laura Place? When will Bath wake up to its watery heritage?

In the meantime, while Bishop King had visions of a ladder to Heaven while asleep in the city – l will dream of more earthly matters. A little water-filled reminder of Signor Pieroni’s homeland.

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The Trevi Fountain in Rome. © ItalyGuides.It

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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. 

 

 

Rails-way station

Rails-way station

I am naturally curious. Don’t know whether it’s journalistic training – or that l came ‘ready-wired’ for being nosey – but l like to explore unusual avenues in search of stories for Bath Newseum.

Our local authority publishes a weekly list of planning applications and l enjoy a scroll through in search of material.

Here’s a good example. More than 17,000 people pass in and out of Bath Spa station every day and – l am sure – many may have noticed the work carried out on preparing this stopping point on the Bristol to London line for the new ten-carriage trains now coming into service.

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Bath Spa Station – looking back towards Bristol.

Putting the electrification of the line saga to one side – whether it’s an overhead pylon or an onboard alternative diesel engine – these new riders-of-the-rails offer greater capacity in a more up-to-date environment.

The new rolling stock has meant extending platforms. That’s after they were also built out towards the tracks so that the intended overhead electric power supply wouldn’t mean demolishing listed canopies.

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Bit of platform lengthening from a few weeks ago.

There was also space to move the tracks closer together – thanks to Brunel’s original ‘broad gauge’ layout.

The electrification programme has slowed to nothing following government criticism of costs but there are still little station improvements to be done that have nothing to do with the mega-bucks being spent elsewhere on the Great Western Electrification Project.

A point in question concerns a short section of parapet wall adjacent to the main buildings of Platform 1 on the Bristol end of the station which – according to a letter sent to B&NES Planning Department by Mr Ian Wheaton of Network Rail – ‘has been identified as below-height for compliance with minimum recommended suicide prevention mitigation.’

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The low wall can be seen on the far right of the picture. This one taken before the platforms were extended.

Putting it more simply – there is a danger people might – accidentally or deliberately – fall over it! There is a fair drop on the other side.

Originally Network Rail wanted to build the wall up and had been given planning permission to do this. However, they now want the Council to approve a change of plan.

In his letter, Ian Wheaton says: ‘ Having undertaken structural assessments of the existing wall, it was found that the structure would not be able to maintain the new loads associated with using stone to match the existing.

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The length of wall in question.

Following discussion with the Council and Historic England, it was agreed the appropriate solution would see the installation of railings of a similar design to that used elsewhere within the station, specifically those which surround the dining terrace of the Graze restaurant on Platform 2.’

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Existing railings around Graze.

Can’t see that this is going to be much of a problem – in terms of objections – but the public has the right to comment on the application via

https://isharemaps.bathnes.gov.uk/data.aspx?requesttype=parsetemplate&template=DevelopmentControlApplication.tmplt&basepage=data.aspx&Filter=^refval^=%2718/00908/VAR%27&history=2ac49d445942498b963ed535b119c49a&SearchLayer=DCApplications

If you would like a nose through the whole current list of planning applications click onto https://isharemaps.bathnes.gov.uk/data.aspx?requesttype=parsetemplate&template=DevelopmentControlSearchWeeklyList.tmplt