What Cleveland Pools Trust want for Christmas.

What Cleveland Pools Trust want for Christmas.

Don’t know what you’re hoping Santa brings you for Christmas but l do know supporters of the Cleveland Pools Trust are hoping it might be a big fat cheque from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Actually, we’ll have to wait to the New Year to find out whether they have been successful in their Stage 2 bid to secure their final £4.1m grant request to help restore this historic open-air lido.

The Trust has released a picture showing a recent visit from representatives of the HLF who spent the day going through plans on site and scrutinising the venture’s business case.

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HLF visitors at the Cleveland Pools with some of the Trust’s supporting team.

In a Christmas message to supporters the Trust said: ” We felt it went well, although we still have to find £141,000 from a revised fundraising target of £869,000. We do have some promising pledges to help bring it down, and the result of the bid in the New Year could make all the difference.”

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The charity chalet is next to the taxi rank in Orange Grove.

In the meantime, the Trust has been given the charity chalet at the Bath Christmas Market on this coming Sunday, November 26th from 10 am to 6pm to sell a range of merchandise including the brand new Christmas card “Snowman at the Pools’ which has been designed by graphic artist, Catherine Phelps.

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The new ‘Snowman at the Pools’ card.

A temple of convenience.

A temple of convenience.

Bath’s Sydney Gardens has a long and illustrious history.

Laid out as commercially-run 18th century pleasure grounds –  in which even Jane Austen herself would have strolled – the site was taken over by the old Bath City Council in 1908 and opened to the public.

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The main driveway through Sydney Gardens. 

These days – as we live in an age of austerity – the park has an air of faded glory.

It certainly needs some ‘TLC’ – which hopefully will come as a result of Heritage Lottery funding. An application for nearly four million pounds will be going in next year.

If successful – according to the B&NES website – ‘The funding will be used to restore historic buildings, invest in landscape and garden restoration works, and create new play areas for all ages, over a three year programme (2019 – 21).

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Winter sunshine in Sydney Gardens

Alongside the works, a programme of events and activities around art, nature, horticulture, wildlife, play, sport, archaeology and history will be put on.

The project will celebrate the fascinating history of the gardens, with its Cosmorama, Labyrinth, Merlins Swing, Concerts, Public Breakfasts, Galas and Illuminations.’

Someone who takes a keen interest in all this is Kirsten Elliott – a  local author and historian – who also gives guided walks around the city’s parks.

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Kirsten Elliott – author and local historian.

She’s excited about one particular original feature – added when the Council bought the old Georgian ‘Vauxhall’ – but until now hidden and forgotten in the overgrown bushes.

It’s what celebrity author (Lady) Lucinda Lambton – who writes about architecture – would describe as a ‘temple of convenience.’ A cast-iron Edwardian ladies loo.

Kirsten took Bath Newseum along to have a look.

These days Bath’s public loos have been taken over by a private company who provide ‘well-maintained’ facilities that are accessed via a 20 pence piece.

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The existing facilities in Sydney Gardens

We have come a long way since the days of ‘spending a penny’ haven’t we. Out of interest, l can explain where that description of the ‘call of nature’ came from.

It’s all to do with the Great Exhibition – the world’s first trade fair – which opened in Joseph Paxton’s amazing Crystal Palace in 1851.

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The Great Exhibition © Wikipedia

 

Over six million people visited so it was, with some relief l am sure, that the exhibition also featured the UK’s first paid-for flushing toilet when visitors spent one penny to experience a clean toilet seat, a towel, a comb and a shoe shine.

Records show that 675,000 pennies were spent!

That’s the way to do it! The re-birth of Weston-super-Mare’s Town Museum.

That’s the way to do it! The re-birth of Weston-super-Mare’s Town Museum.

More than two and a half thousand people turned up last Saturday ( August 26th) to look around the newly-reopened town museum at Weston-super-Mare.

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The exterior of the Grade 2 listed building in Burlington Street.

I know this website concerns itself with Bath but – as someone who claims that west coast town as his birthplace – l seized the opportunity to pop down and be shown around the place by the man who chairs the committee responsible for its rebirth – Cllr John Crockford-Hawley.

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L to R. Cllr John Crockford-Hawley and my friend Peter Steel – on our tour of the newly re-vamped facility.

You’ll find the museum in the former Gas Company workshops in Burlington Street – a site it has occupied since 1974.

However, this is its third town location, as a museum has existed in Weston for 155 years – making it just ten years younger than the V & A and ten years older than Bristol City Museum.

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Plenty of colourful displays and ‘hands-on’ fun for youngsters.

To complete the business plan – there is a tripartite agreement between Weston Town Council which owns the building, North Somerset Council which owns the collection, and the South West Heritage Trust which curates the collection.

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Milk churns and platform porters.

The project has largely been covered by the Heritage Lottery Fund – which provided £346,000 more than the town council asked for – with further money coming from the Coastal Communities Fund, Garfield Trust and Arts Council England.

The building has been closed for two years to enable a new roof – with automatic opening windows – to be installed.

They’ve also added a lift to open up the second floor to those with disabilities and a cafe – selling local produce – is ‘in-house’ -allowing profits to flow back into the museum.

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No ‘tat’ in the museum shop!

Donations are obviously welcome and there’s a bright little shop area – selling everything from local history books to china mugs and reproduction carbolic soap – adding to the all-important extra income.

Bright new display areas, new balconies and a re-configured staircase has opened up areas for exhibition and performance.

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A view down into the body of the museum’s main hall from one of the new balconies. To the right is another exhibition room that can also be used for lectures and conferences.

Most of the museum’s vast collection is stored at Taunton but there will be a regular flow of items – no doubt – to refresh displays.

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Come face to face with some of Weston’s former inhabitants!

I have to say having ‘less’ has turned out to provide ‘more’ in the way of impact. You no longer have to shuffle past past endless displays of  somewhat cluttered and drably displayed objects.

There is a real – brightly-lit and information-rich flow of artefacts which explore Weston’s long history – from primitive man to its ascendancy as a Victorian seaside resort.

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Memories of paddle steamers!

As an ‘old boy’ myself – l have to say the ‘Wyatt smile’ widened with every new display that triggered memory and took me back – for instance – to the days of the Open Air Swimming Pool – with its gushing fountain and high diving board – or the bracing summer days of Channel cruising on the old Bristol and Cardiff Queens.

This little boy’s heart would beat fast as he ran down the once firm-planks of the jetty on Birnbeck Pier to board one of those wonderful smoke-belching Campbell steamers that promised Knickerbocker Glory ice-creams as soon as we docked – down Channel –  at Ilfracombe.

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The ‘sponsored’ wooden blocks in the floor. The whole of the town’s high street was once lined with wooden blocks too.

Community involvement is strong with sponsored woodblocks that you can purchase to help coat the museum floor and a special display area given over to groups and clubs in the town to promote their place – and history – in the town.

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Here’s where the community can make its mark.

There were more memories for me of the penny in the slot automatons l viewed on the old Grand Pier. They were always depicting gruesome executions or ghouls rising from the grave – but you got a childlike thrill knowing there was glass between you and the stuff of nightmares.

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The electric chair! An original automaton that used to give me nightmares after being viewed as a young boy on the ‘old’ Grand Pier.

Meet the ‘Lord of the Manor’ – a couple painted by no-less-than Bath-based Thomas Gainsborough himself – and lots of other canvasses depicting the town’s history in the first real Weston-dedicated gallery the museum has ever boasted.

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The new art gallery.

I could go on but l want you to go look for yourselves. Burlington Street is a bit out of the way but there is now good signage and even little museum symbols on the pavement to guide you into the back streets from The Boulevard.

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Museum logo markings on the pavement help lead you to the front door in Burlington Street.

Details of opening ties and directions can be found on the museum website via www.http://westonmuseum.org

This is the biggest project the Town Council has undertaken and there are plans to start developing phase 2 of the museum which will bring in the rear courtyard, back of house areas and Clara’s Cottage.

Makes a refreshing change to say that here is a little gem that Weston-super-Mare can be truly proud of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s be seated.

Let’s be seated.

Good to see the benches in Sydney Gardens are getting the repair ‘promised’ in labels stuck onto their previously much-battered forms.

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The man working on them described it as ‘a temporary thing’ while everyone concentrates on the Heritage Lottery Fund application that may unlock millions towards a real ‘re-birth’ for this former Georgian pleasure gardens.

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Stand by Bath – for the ‘battle’ of the pews.

Stand by Bath – for the ‘battle’ of the pews.

Bath Abbey’s plans to permanently remove the 19th-century pews in the church nave – after the floor has been repaired – have not gone down well with The Victorian Society.

It’s a London-based organisation that campaigns for the preservation of Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

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Looking up the centre aisle of the nave towards the East end of Bath Abbey.

This autumn – probably October – it will be sending a barrister to ‘square up’ against the Abbey’s own legal team in an ecclesiastical court hearing which will decide whether the pews stay or go.

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Should they stay or should they go? The ‘battle’ for the nave pews in Bath Abbey.

Church of England churches are exempt from the requirement to obtain listed building consent from local councils. Decisions are instead made by the Chancellor of each diocese – a lawyer appointed by the church to adjudicate on these matters.

The pews were designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott – the architect of St Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial. He was one of the most successful and highly respected church architects of the period and his major restoration of Bath Abbey in 1859-74 was intended to ‘complete’ the church as it would have been if the Reformation had not stopped its construction.

Scott completed the stone fan vaulting above the nave and designed a chandelier lighting system for the church – as well as designing the pews, which were modelled on those in other 16th-century Somerset churches.

Christopher Costelloe, Victorian Society Director, said: ‘Bath Abbey is one of the best examples of Victorian church restoration by perhaps the era’s most prominent architect – Sir George Gilbert Scott.

There is no doubt that removing these pews would harm this Grade 1 listed church’s significance, and there is no need for such drastic changes in a thriving church when other options are available. The last decade or so has seen Victorian church schemes ripped out all over the country and once they’re gone they’re gone for good.

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Bath Abbey interior

Bath Abbey has a different point of view and is at the start of a massive multi-million-pound project – boosted by the Heritage Lottery Fund – to deal with the threat of the church floor collapsing because of massive holes discovered beneath it. They have been created as a result of the six thousand odd people who have been buried below the stone flooring.

It means all the fixed furniture – including the pews – will have to be lifted as the repair is carried out – section by section – so the Abbey can stay in business throughout.

According to Charles Curnock – Director of the Footprint Project – once the floor has been stabilised and underfloor heating, powered by energy from the hot spring nearby, installed – they intend reinstating the hand-carved Corporation Pews and most of the machine-tooled pews behind them.

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An illustration showing how the nave might look without its pews.

However, they want to leave the nave clear – the way it was when the church was built. It would mean people would get a clear view of the hundreds of ledger stones that have been hidden beneath the pews for nearly 180 years.

It would also give the Abbey more flexibility in how the space was used – with chairs replacing pews for seated events – allowing different layouts for gatherings big and small. It would improve access for those with disability issues and allow visitors more freedom in exploring the church.

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Chairs would replace the nave pews – making for more flexible use of the space. These chairs were just spotted in the Abbey. I am not saying they would be the type that would be used.

The Victorian Society argue that the pews have protected the ancient ledger stones from heavy foot traffic and that just removing the pews from the aisles would ease the flow of visitors.

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The removal of the pews would allow people to see more of the ancient ledger stones, says the Abbey. The Victorian Society says the pews have helped protect them.

They have launched an online petition – which has attracted over a thousand signatures – and say the complete removal of the nave pews would ‘ strip the Abbey of a major layer of its interest and richness, permanently harming the interior.’

Bath Abbey feels this is an opportunity to change how the floor space can be used to better serve the city, its visitors and future generations.  That an open nave will release the Abbey’s potential as a place for worship, celebration and community events in a way it previously hasn’t been able to offer.

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Bath Abbey

The Victorian Society will now be a ‘party opponent’ at a Consistory Court hearing later this year, regarding the permanent removal of pews from Bath Abbey.

They will have a barrister present to argue their case before the Chancellor makes his decision.  Bath Abbey will also be legally represented.

Both sides seem confident they will win the day. A date for that has yet to be announced.

 

Giving thanks for the memories.

Giving thanks for the memories.

National Lottery funding to capture a century’s memories

A community project to mark the First World Ware Centenary is being organised by B&NES thanks to an award of over £7,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

‘A Century’s Memories’ is part of the Council’s commemoration of the Centenary throughout 2014-2018.

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King George V inspects the troops in Bath, 9 November 1917 © Bath in Time – Bath Central Library Collection.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the project starts in September and will involve small groups of older people sharing family memories and stories of the First World War passed down through the generations. 

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “Personal stories, photos and keepsakes are a powerful way of understanding what life was like in 1914-18. Older people will have memories of their parents and grandparents talking to them about service in combat or on the home front. It is very important that we share and treasure these unique stories, the last connections to a world of 100 years ago.”

The project will also involve young people and volunteers, who will learn how to research local history and record interviews with the participants. The stories will be gathered into an illustrated book in 2018.

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re pleased to support this project which will see stories and memories of life in Bath and North East Somerset during the First World War shared – many for the first time – and passed down through the generations.”

To find out more about Bath & North East Somerset Council’s First World War Centenary commemorations, contact centenary_worldwar1@bathnes.gov.uk  or visit

www.bathnes.gov.uk/WW1centenary

Uncovering the past as part of Abbey’s future.

Uncovering the past as part of Abbey’s future.

It’s going to be church business as usual inside Bath Abbey over the coming months – and years – as work starts in earnest on the multi-million pound Footprint Project which will both stabilise and heat the floor and provide new rehearsal and meeting places – plus a visitor experience.

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Looking west inside Bath Abbey.

It’s all  thanks to a  grant of nearly £11 million pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund – and ‘match’ funding from donors.

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Project Director Charles Curnock met me to peer into the sizeable excavation underway outside the Abbey shop on the corner of Abbey Courtyard.

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Bath Abbey Footprint Project Director, Charles Curnock.

 

Charles wanted to reassure church users that – though sections of the interior might be closed off from time to time – it would be business as usual with no curtailment of musical events – in addition to church services – either. The doors of the Abbey remain open to its visitors too.

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The excavation outside the Abbey shop.

I wanted to know what digging had discovered so far.

 

You can find out more about the Footprint Project via http://www.bathabbey.org/footprint