Bath presence on the Thames.

Bath presence on the Thames.

Cranes made by Stothert and Pitt of Bath turn up in places all around the globe.

Bath Newseum follower, Neil Garrett chanced upon a pair in London a few years ago.

“I now live in Pimlico and my home overlooks the iconic Battersea Power Station.  In 2014 I took the picture of the cranes which were later demolished when the redevelopment started. 
They were of particular interest to me as my Grandfather, Jack Garrett, worked at Stothert & Pitt as an Iron-Founder and he used to tell me how he used to make the “slewing rings”, the big cog wheels which allowed the crane to swing around.
  I feared they had gone forever to the scrapyard, but last week whilst taking a walk South of the River Thames at Nine Elms I found this picture on the hoarding around the Power Station site. 
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I was delighted that the cranes were coming back, a fine example of the cranes built in Bath which were installed in dockyards throughout the world.”
Local artist makes shortlist for major prize.

Local artist makes shortlist for major prize.

Bath artist Charlotte Sorapure, has been chosen from over 1,000 artists to be shortlisted for a prestigious national art prize worth £15,000 to the winner.
Charlotte is one of 83 artists from across the UK shortlisted for the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2018, the UK’s leading competition for British contemporary representational painting and drawing. Having made the shortlist her work ‘The Letter’ will be exhibited at London’s Mall Galleries from 5–17 March.

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The Letter – painted by Bath-based Charlotte Sorapure.

1,144 artists entered this year’s competition – the highest number in the prize’s 13-year history.
Responding to the news of their shortlisting, Charlotte said: “In an artistic climate that tends to be preoccupied with novelty and gimmickry, the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize is very special, with its commitment to nurturing and supporting the continued development of figurative painting and draughtsmanship. I am very happy to have been included in this years exhibition”
Charlotte has been painting for over twenty-five years. She describes the overriding concerns of her work as being rooted in drawing, composition and colour.
‘The paintings often hint at a poetic awareness, rather than any literal narrative – hopefully emanating an underlying mood or atmosphere. In order to do so, one has to be constantly alert to possibilities in any potential subject; from the corner of the studio or a humble still life, to the pattern and movements of a crowd.
There is a gentle irony, humour and poignancy in the paintings, that life is rarely what it seems. The recognition of these fleeting, incidental and silent moments have the ability to resonate more powerfully, than grander schemes and gestures. Seeing the significant in the insignificant – peering under stones, so to speak’

Trained at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Charlotte is a figurative Artist living and working in Bath. She has exhibited mainly with Messum’s in London and Brian Sinfield Gallery in Burford. Winner of the 2012 Holburne Portrait Prize, she has also exhibited at the Victoria Art Gallery in  Bath as well as more broadly in the UK and abroad. She has produced commissioned Portraits and Murals including a portrait of the war photographer Don McCullin CBE for The Holburne Museum in Bath, which was unveiled in 2015.

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Don McCullin and Charlotte Sorapure – wither side of her portrait.

The Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize for representational art – art that seeks to capture the real world – offers total prize money of £30,000, comprising a first prize of £15,000 and a gold medal, second prize of £4,000 alongside the newly introduced People’s Prize worth £2,000. Young artists aged 25-or-under compete for the Young Artist Award of £4,000.

For further details visit

Working on water.

Working on water.

If you are a regular user of the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath through Bath you may have noticed a group of people busy cutting back the overgrowth, painting railings and shifting tons of accumulated soil from the offside abutments.


Some of the volunteers at work on the Sydney Gardens stretch of the K & A.

They are unpaid volunteers – working under the auspices of the Canal and River Trust – and currently concentrating activity on the canal as it runs through Sydney Gardens.

Historically, this was an area created to be a Georgian ‘Vauxhall’ – a pleasure garden – opened in 1795 –  for grown-ups! Which offered everything from outside dining to adult swings in the middle of a thrill-on-every-dead-end labyrinth.

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The shape of the canal through Sydney Gardens.

The Kennet and Avon Canal Company paid a fair sum to be allowed to dig out a route through the park and charged with ensuring that what was created looked good too.

John Rennie was the engineer who linked the Severn with the Thames and London with excavations between 1799 and 1810.

These days the narrowboats aren’t carrying coal, stone or foodstuffs but carrying pleasure seekers taking advantage of what has been a massive and expensive restoration of the route.

The Sydney Gardens bit is well-used but was getting just as run down as the parkland around it.


The canal through Sydney Gardens.

Whilst the Gardens apply for HLF funding to spruce things up, this section of the canal below relies upon the skills and muscle power of its volunteer men and women.

This section is being led by Ian Herve who – when not on canal business – is a volunteer Mayor’s Guide like me.


Volunteer, Ian Herve who is leading the group currently working wonders along the canal through Sydney Gardens.

I met him down on the towpath to hear more of the group’s plans for ‘enhanced improvement’ of this stretch of well-used and much-loved canal.



Find out more about how you could join the team as a volunteer by clicking on



Taking Bath underground.

Taking Bath underground.

London’s newly re-opened Postal Museum – – now includes the ‘thrill’ of a ride on the capital’s Mail Rail through tunnels that have lain abandoned for years.

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The Mail Train rides again! Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The underground system transported letters and parcels 6½ miles from Paddington to Whitechapel , for over 75 years – from the 1920s until its closure in 2003 – linking six sorting offices with mainline railway stations and delivering four million letters every day.

With that in mind Robert Draper of Bath writes: “Is there a lesson here for Bath to help alleviate our traffic problems? ………….



Milsom Street – between Waterstones and Lloyds Bank.

There is a narrow track underground railway beneath Milsom Street going roughly between Waterstones and the Octagon.


Looking across Milsom Street from Lloyds Bank.

I remember, from Octagon Theatre Club days, the line being blocked by a breeze-block wall, probably by a bank nervous of acquisitive Bathonian villains breaking into their vaults!”

Bath Spa’s platform extensions

Bath Spa’s platform extensions

Well the Government may have slowed things down on the electrification front but that hasn’t stopped Network Rail engineers getting on with the job of lengthening and re-building platforms at Bath Spa station.


Work underway to extend the up platform out over the Skew Bridge.

Regardless of absent pylons and overhead wires, the new Hitachi bi-mode trains GWR have bought for their fleet upgrade will be coming into action in a month or so.

They can switch from electricity to diesel – so can still come into service. The trains are due to run with up to ten carriages – so Bath Spa needs longer platforms.


A closer view of the work underway.


A spokesperson for Network Rail told Bath Newseum: ‘ We are undertaking an 80m extension on the up platform and 4m on the down platform will be demolished and reconstructed; hoping to complete both by the end of the year.’


What the new trains will look like.

If the new ten-carriage trains pass through Bath before the work on the up line is finished they will no doubt have to lock the the doors on the last two!

Meanwhile travellers going towards Bristol will know there has been no cafe facility at all.

GWR’s press office spokesperson told me: ‘It’s my understanding is that the vendor has decided to close this facility, not us, and we will be offering the opportunity for other businesses.’


Bath students help with London’s history

Bath students help with London’s history

Researchers at Bath Spa University have created a new interactive app that explores the historic origins of London’s streets.

‘London Streets’ is an immersive and interactive iOS and Android app that takes users on a journey through the old streets of London, their origins and history.

Developed at Bath Spa University’s Centre for Creative Computing, this mobile app gives users an interactive experience of how these streets have developed over many centuries and the people, events and buildings that have shaped the growth of this modern City.

The app includes historic maps and images of over 40 streets which can be viewed  – past and present – by tapping images to view them full screen, pinching the screen to zoom in and out of images, swiping sideways to reveal more images as well as the use of a unique lens able to ‘see through time’.

The app features a range of multimedia and interactive content including over 100 historic and contemporary images; three historical maps from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries; original sounds and music; three Victorian-style inventions including an early CCTV system; and a panoramic view of London from 1616.

The Old Watling, Watling Street - as it was

The Old Watling, Watling Street – as it was

The London Streets app builds on the research of Dr Jerry Fishenden, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Creative Computing at Bath Spa University. Dr Fishenden is researching ‘palimpsests of time’.

The transformation from past to present begins.

The transformation from past to present begins.

These ‘palimpsests’ or historic layers of the same place over time, help to reveal how places looked and sounded in the past. This research has identified more evocative ways for users to explore content using new and original computational techniques.

The app builds upon Dr Fishenden’s research which effectively place the same images from different times on top of each other allowing the user to see and also hear the changes and transformation of over 40 streets in London.

The transformation is complete.

The transformation is complete.

Dr Fishenden said: “This app brings together years of research into developing more engaging ways for users to enjoy and interact with historic content. When users explore details about Fleet Street, for example, they will be able to use a ‘time lens’ that reveals how the nearby Old Curiosity Shop looked in the past. Feedback from early users of the app is helping shape and improve future updates.”

The team at the Centre for Creative Computing is now planning to create a similar app for Beijing. PhD student Sicong Ma will be leading on the development of this project in collaboration with Beijing Union University Tourism College.

A video overview of the app can be viewed at

The free London Streets app can now be downloaded from:

· Apple’s App Store at
· the Google Play Android store at
· Amazon’s Android Appstore at

The Centre for Creative Computing at Bath Spa University offers a new range of computing courses aimed at enterprising students who want to combines excellent technical skills and their ability to be creative. Students at Bath Spa are encouraged to think differently and to make connections across traditional boundaries and Creative Computing fits perfectly with an approach that’s both imaginative and practical, preparing graduates for employment opportunities that may not even exist yet.

New dressing for Kingsmead Square tree

New dressing for Kingsmead Square tree

New lights now adorn the landmark tree in the middle of Kingsmead Square thanks to a jointly funded project between Bath & North East Somerset Council and HPH Commercial Property Ltd.

Kingsmead Square with new lights!

Kingsmead Square with new lights!

Earlier this year, the Council had to remove the previous lights as they were beginning to damage the tree as the lighting cables were beginning to constrict the growth of the branches.

Following consultation with local businesses, the Council installed LED technology with solar timer meaning they come on at dusk and go off at midnight.

Money from the Council was provided through the Ward Councillors Initiative Fund that empowers them to respond quickly to local community needs where a small amount of financial support can make a big difference.

Councillor Andrew Furse (Lib-Dem, Kingsmead), said, “The tree is one of the distinguishing features of Kingsmead Square and the previous lights added value to visual attractiveness of this part of the city centre. I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to get the new lights up-and-running that will no longer damage the tree.”

Kingsmead Square at night.

Kingsmead Square at night.

Councillor Doug Nicol (Lib-Dem, Kingsmead), said, “The Ward Councillors Initiative Fund is designed exactly to address issues like this and to have the lights up in time for Christmas is a good achievement. The future vitality of the tree is also secure.”

Lindsay Holdoway, owner of HPH Ltd, said, “The tree is the centre-point of the Square and the added sparkle of the lighting will play an important part in the future use of the Square for more outside cafes and restaurants. I understand the planning consent for that scheme is due to be granted any day now.”

The lights are supplied by a company called Lumisphere that have provided lighting solution to trees on the embankment in London and in Kew Gardens.