Welcome Centre role for old Toll House

Welcome Centre role for old Toll House

The latest volunteer project on the Kennet and Avon Canal has been handed over to  the Canal and River Trust.

It’s involved the rescue and conservation of the old Toll House at Dundas Wharf which the  CRT are to use as a new Welcome Centre at this busy and historic point on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

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The old toll house at Dundas Wharf – prior to renovation.

My thanks to Ian Herve – himself a volunteer with the Trust – for the following report:

“The history of this small building is not entirely clear but dates from the time when the direct transhipment of coal from the Somertshire Coal Canal was ended due to the logistical problems at Combe Hay. 

This occurred in 1818 when the Kennet and Avon Canal Company was obliged to construct the Wharf and basin at Dundas and start to gauge the coal barges from this Toll House.  The carriers were charged by weight and distance travelled.

The toll house fell into disuse after the Coal Canal closed in 1898.  It was put to various ancilliary uses over the years by, initially,  the GWR and then British Waterways. 

  The photograph below was taken in the mid-1990s when some of the fabric remained.  After this time the internal furniture was stripped out and the sash windows and even the guttering was removed.

Some years ago the roof was replaced with new slate and timber but nothing more was done until the last year.  CRT agreed to fund the replacement of the windows and volunteers from both the K & A Canal Trust and CRT, who work together along the canal, undertook to complete the extensive restoration work.

This involved the construction of a “defensive” wall and kerb to prevent the lorries that clear waste from the wharf colliding with the corner near the access lane.  This had caused damage in the past and resulted in the corner stonework being dislodged.

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Volunteers hard at work on the restoration.

The whole façade was repointed, the internal walls rebuilt and the new windows installed.  A new terrace at the front was constructed.

Below you can see the finished building decked out for the opening.

Martin Veal, Councillor for Bathavon North and Cabinet Member for Community Services, joined forces with Mark Evans, the CRT Waterways manager for the Kennet and Avon Canal, to cut the ribbon and declare it open for business.  They were joined by Peter Turner, councillor for Abbey Ward and Advocate for Heritage and Culture, David Laming, Chair of the River Regeneration Trust, and Bryan Chalker, Ex-mayor of Bath and long-time campaigner for the conservation of Bath’s industrial heritage.

A large crowd of invited guests from across the canal world were in attendance and they were treated to refreshments and a short trip along the canal aboard one of the K & A canal trust trip boats which had driven down from Bradford on Avon for the event.

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Decked out and ready for its new role.

Most of all, though, the day belonged to the group of volunteers who undertake many types of roles along the canal, all the way to Hanham Lock, the westward extent of the K & A Canal.  Over the last years they have repainted all of the locks from Hanham to Bath Top Lock and the swing bridges to Dundas.

  The junction of the canal and river in Bath has been brought back to life and the old workman’s “hovel” at the George Public House  in Bathampton rescued from decay.

There is much more that they want to do and yesterday served as an opportunity to both celebrate past work and concentrate influential minds on what needs to be done for the future.

Details of how to join the volunteers can be found by accessing the CRT website: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer or email to Trevor Clark, the local lead volunteer at: t.clark603@btinternet.com”

What’s your view on the river?

What’s your view on the river?

Water taxis and transporting refuse waste – just two of the ideas for finding new ways of using Bath’s waterways –  that l discussed with the man ‘chairing’ a group who are charged with transforming and revitalising the river and canal systems.

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L to R. Dave Laming, River Regeneration Trust; Nick Rowson, Atkins; John Wilkinson, B&NES; and Cllr Martin Veal, Chair of the Strategic River Group. Photo © paulgillisphoto.com

Cllr Martin Veal – who is Cabinet Member for Community Services – has been appointed Chair of the Strategic River Group which has been set up to look at the matter – but they want the public to have a big say in how Bath uses its water spaces.

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Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency, and Wessex Water will work together in a jointly funded Water Space Study, with the support of ongoing research from the River Regeneration Trust.

Water Space Study Launch

From left to right: Patrick Moss, Atkins (who is from Moss Naylor Young ltd, a sub-consultant to Atkins) Zoe Hancock, BANES,John Wilkinson, BANES, Jim Collings, BANES, David Crowson, Environment Agency, Cllr Martin Veal, BANES, Dave Laming, River Regeneration Trust, Nick Rowson, Atkins, Cleo Newcombe-Jones, BANES, Mark Minkley, BANES, Jeremy Taylor, Environment Agency, Ruth Barden, Wessex Water, Tim Hewitt, BANES.

Historically rivers and canals were heavily used for industry, business and trade, but they are now used increasingly for leisure and wellbeing, sports and recreation, so the study will gather new evidence about how the waterways are now being used.

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Engaging with local communities, it will look at the diverse range of opportunities along the River Avon between Bath and Keynsham, and along the Kennet and Avon Canal between Deep Lock and Limpley Stoke Viaduct.IMG_5713

The Water Space Study will also be informed by the continuing work of the Council and the Environment Agency to investigate options for managing flood risk.

Councillor  Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) said: “All of the project partners are keen to engage with everyone who has an interest in the river and canal within our communities, including businesses, the construction industry, landowners, sports clubs, boaters and local groups.

“We want to make sure that local people play a key part in finding more ways for everyone to safely enjoy our fantastic waterways in a way that benefits the environment and the local economy.

I met him for a chat in Parade Gardens.

As soon as we find out more about how and when you can contribute the Virtual Museum will let you know! Please let me know your views in the meantime.

Water power!

Water power!

B&NES must really learn to coordinate things amongst departments within the authority. The following press release was ’embargoed’ until l am today (Thursday, March 17th) and l have stuck to that request by not releasing it until now.

However followers of the Virtual Museum of Bath website know that l published a story yesterday  (it sits alongside this one)  about an on-line newsletter relating to a new ‘body’ that would launch a study into how our waterways could be better used.

That newsletter was sent out into the public realm on March 14th. It was NOT embargoed.

Anyway here’s the release that was – and it comes with a photograph of those who will be involved.

‘A study looking at new ways to use the river and canal system around Bath has been launched  to identify projects to transform and revitalise the waterways.

Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency, and Wessex Water will work together in the jointly funded Water Space Study, with the support of ongoing research from the River Regeneration Trust.

Historically rivers and canals were heavily used for industry, business and trade, but they are now used increasingly for leisure and wellbeing, sports and recreation, so the study will gather new evidence about how the waterways are now being used.

Engaging with local communities, it will look at the diverse range of opportunities along the River Avon between Bath and Keynsham, and along the Kennet and Avon Canal between Deep Lock and Limpley Stoke Viaduct.

The Water Space Study will also be informed by the continuing work of the Council and the Environment Agency to investigate options for managing flood risk.

Cllr Martin Veal

Cllr Martin Veal

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services and Chair of the Strategic River Group, said: “All of the project partners are keen to engage with everyone who has an interest in the river and canal within our communities, including businesses, the construction industry, landowners, sports clubs, boaters and local groups.

“We want to make sure that local people play a key part in finding more ways for everyone to safely enjoy our fantastic waterways in a way that benefits the environment and the local economy.

“This study initiates what we hope will be an exciting enhancement and transformation of how Bath uses its water spaces.”

The study will look at all aspects impacting on the river and canal, including boat moorings, river navigation by boats, leisure and recreation opportunities and wider wildlife and habitat enhancements.

Water Space Study Launch

From left to right: Patrick Moss, Atkins (who is from Moss Naylor Young Ltd, a sub-consultant to Atkins) Zoe Hancock, BANES,John Wilkinson, BANES, Jim Collings, BANES, David Crowson, Environment Agency, Cllr Martin Veal, BANES, Dave Laming, River Regeneration Trust, Nick Rowson, Atkins, Cleo Newcombe-Jones, BANES, Mark Minkley, BANES, Jeremy Taylor, Environment Agency, Ruth Barden, Wessex Water, Tim Hewitt, BANES.

The project partners will be working with local consultancy firm Atkins, which has been involved in many environmental-based river restoration work and marina developments, including the rejuvenation of the London 2012 Olympic Park canal network.

Mark Evans, Waterways Manager for the Kennet & Avon Canal at the Canal & River Trust, said: “This study will really help us to understand what people want and need from Bath’s waterways, from the needs of boating communities to the tourist trade.

“The canal and river are already key features of the city, but there is potentially much more we can do to make the most of them.

“This is the first step in working out what those things could be, and it’s great to have partners on board who are as invested in Bath’s future as we are.”

Cllr Dave Laming

Dave Laming, Chairman of the River Regeneration Trust.

Dave Laming, Chairman of the River Regeneration Trust, said: “We have been campaigning for five years now for work like this to be done to really make the most of our waterways, so I am delighted to see this study launch this week.

“The river and canal provide an excellent facility for the area, but so much more is possible. This study is a really exciting first step in making real improvements.”Map of Water Space Study Area

Jeremy Taylor, catchment co-ordinator at the Environment Agency, said: “This is a real team effort. As well as making full use of the water spaces in Bath, the Water Space Study will assist in the development of a sustainable approach to flood risk management within Bath.

“We are all pooling our knowledge and resources to identify both large and small projects that will benefit the community, local economy and the environment.”

The project is due to conclude its recommendations in March 2017. Opportunities for public engagement are being planned for summer 2016.

For information on the river and canal and the Water Space Study, visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/riverandcanal or email RiverAvon@bathnes.gov.uk.

River regeneration gets thumbs up from Bath residents

River regeneration gets thumbs up from Bath residents

 

PHOTOS show left to right The Right Worshipful Mayor of Bath Cllr Malcolm Lees; Chairman of The River Regeneration Trust Geoff Dunford; Vice Chairman, B@nes Council Cllr Martin Veal; B&NES River Champion Cllr Dave Laming.

PHOTOS show left to right The Right Worshipful Mayor of Bath Cllr Malcolm Lees; Chairman of The River Regeneration Trust Geoff Dunford; Vice Chairman, B@nes Council Cllr Martin Veal; B&NES River Champion Cllr Dave Laming.

Visitors to the city’s third networking conference voiced their approval last Wednesday for The River Regeneration Trust’s continuing emphasis on bringing the river back into daily life for residents and tourists alike.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s River Champion, Cllr Dave Laming (Lambridge ward, Independent), said:

‘At last our river has again been recognised as a driving force for the social and economic regeneration not only of the City, but also the surrounding towns and villages.

We must now ensure it becomes a safer environment, work to minimise the flood risk, safeguard its ecology, connect it to our communities for leisure and sport, use it as a source of energy and transport, but most importantly, it will be a catalyst for job creation.’

Members of the Trust had take-away information sheets on offer, as well as more detailed colour representations prepared by Trust consultant James Hurley showing the potential of the 30 km of river frontage in the Trust’s remit from Bath City to Hanham Lock.

Chairman of The Trust, Geoff Dunford, also Director of Bristol Rovers Football Club, added:

”We plan to transform this great local waterway asset into a more accessible, enjoyable and productive amenity for communities on, by and local to the river.’

The River Regeneration Trust now advises the council’s Strategic River Group and will push ahead with plans for a public river hub near Pulteney Weir.

More information on The Trust can be found by visiting its website at www.theriverregenerationtrust.co.uk and follow us on Twitter @TRRTUK.

Current in the past

Current in the past

Elsewhere in this cyber museum you will find stories about Bath’s River Regeneration Trust and plans for harnessing the flow of the Avon at Pulteney Weir to generate electricity. It’s seen as a great idea for the future.

Sunshine on the River Avon at Pulteney Bridge.

Sunshine on the River Avon at Pulteney Bridge.

This morning – April 29th 2014 – l was leafing through a bound copy of Corporation minutes for the year 1923 at the Records Office and in February of that year Bath’s ‘Electricity Committee’ were considering a hydroelectricity scheme utilising water at the city weir.

The Corporation had employed an expert to gauge water flows and take into account rainfall, flooding and – more unlikely – periods of drought!

It was interesting to read that the area draining into the River Avon above the City weir was calculated to be 600 square miles.

Also that the volume of water passing over the weir has been recorded as varying between a minimum depth of three inches to a maximum two feet seven inches.pulteney weir

Flooding over the past hundred years had seen levels go as high as 13ft 3ins in November 1823 and to 12 feet 6 inches in 1882.

It was decided – that as the volume of water and its fall were not constant – than neither would the supply be.

A regular 14 inches of water could generate 210 kw but summer flows might reduce that to a mere 20 kw a day.

The scheme was costed at £21,275 pounds and it’s maybe no surprise they decided to spend the money on another land-based steam-driven turbine instead.

Bath residents ask – why are we forgotten?

Bath residents ask – why are we forgotten?

Whole swathes of Bath’s architectural history and heritage are at risk from flooding and nothing is being down to protect them.

Ian Herve, Secretary Henrietta Park Association

Ian Herve, Secretary
Henrietta Park Association

That’s the claim being made by one city resident who told the Virtual Museum he lives on the ‘forgotten’ side of Pulteney Bridge and upstream from the main section of the River Avon through Bath which, he says,  is the focus all the flood-prevention work because it’s passing through an area that’s being redeveloped.

Upstream of Pulteney Bridge

Upstream of Pulteney Bridge

Ian Herve is the secretary of the Henrietta Park Association and is co-ordinating a new campaign to get the authorities to take notice of the threat to their riverside district.

Such is the risk, says Ian, that his insurance premium has recently gone up by 80 per cent.

He spoke to the Virtual Museum.

 

Bath may have to live with flooding.

Bath may have to live with flooding.

Bath is going to have its own ‘Cobra-styled’ body to formulate strategy on how the city must learn to live and deal with future flooding.

Flooded footpath.

Flooded foothpath.

The Virtual Museum has been told it will be called ‘The Strategy River Group’ and involve the River Regeneration Trust, Wessex Water, the Canal and River Trust, the Environment Agency and B&NES.

It’s due to have a city-centre HQ too and will shortly be taking over the old Boat House by Pulteney Weir.

Cllr Dave Laming River Champion for B&NES

Cllr Dave Laming
River Champion for B&NES

In an exclusive interview Trust member and councillor Dave Laming explained how it was impossible to stop flooding but better to work out how to manage it.

He also revealed exciting plans for the River Avon through the centre of Bath.

Cllr Laming is River Champion for B&NES and keen to support the Regeneration Trust in opening up the river corridor and reconnecting it with local people.