Top regional award for Roman Baths.

Top regional award for Roman Baths.

The Roman Baths has been named best large visitor attraction at the South West Tourism Awards. 

The Roman Baths won two awards: a Gold in the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year category and Silver for International Visitor Experience.

roman baths

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “More than a million people visit the Roman Baths every year and of these at least 40% come from overseas. This increased footfall is also beneficial to businesses in and around the city and helps boost the local economy as a whole. We are delighted with the two awards, which reflect the huge efforts made by staff to ensure that all our visitors receive an outstanding welcome.”

Last year, the Roman Baths introduced audioguides in four new languages – Dutch, Korean, Polish and Portuguese – bringing the total number of audioguide languages to 12. Audioguides are available free of charge for visitors. Printed information leaflets are also provided in more than 30 additional languages.  In 2016, Mandarin-speaking visitors exceeded 100,000 for the first time, and they now form more than 10% of total visitors.

Recent improvements have made the Roman Baths more accessible for disabled visitors. Four new lifts have been installed, along with handrails, ramps, lowered ticket office counters, wheelchairs for visitors to borrow, and a new accessible toilet. The site has also been made more accessible to visitors on the autism spectrum, with detailed guidance about what to expect provided on the website. 

Due to their popularity, the cast of Roman characters around the Great Bath has been expanded to include Candidina, a lady from Metz (now in France) who is visiting the Temple of Sulis Minerva to pray for a cure for her deteriorating eyesight.

roman baths

The Great Roman Bath

In spring 2017, the East Baths will be updated with new projections, soundscapes and CGI reconstructions showing the Roman Baths at the height of their popularity as a working, living and leisure space. Roman characters of all social classes will interact with each other and visitors will be invited to watch, listen and step into the Roman Baths as they would have looked in the first to fourth centuries.

The South West Tourism Excellence Awards recognise the ongoing quality development of tourism businesses in the region and reward the staff that work in them. They have a rigorous three-stage judging process, and most entrants are visited by a team of mystery shoppers. 

The Roman Baths will now be entered into the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, which will be announced on 24 April 2017 at the Hilton Waldorf Hotel in central London. 

www.romanbaths.co.uk

 

The Emperor’s new clothes!

The Emperor’s new clothes!

Can’t blame a Roman emperor for trying to protect himself from the cold on a crisp and sunny winter morning with the temperature hovering around zero.

Though in the case of some of the emperors and governors of Provincia Britannia, who are represented in local stone around the edges of the Great Bath, the protection has been applied by conservators working to stabilise the condition of the statues.

p1160316

All wrapped up against the cold. This is a statue that has been protected against frost after receiving some conservation work involving material that has to dry out naturally without getting frozen!

Many visitors to the Roman  Baths think these figures are the work of the same masons who carved the facade to the ancient Temple of Minerva – preserved here below ground – but these are actually adornments added to these newly-discovered excavated remains when they were opened to the Victorian public in 1897.

p1160304

The array of Victorian statues surrounding the Great Bath.

The eight figures – in Bath stone – were the work of Scottish-born sculptor George Anderson Lawson – who also carved the friezes of classical figures at either end of the Guildhall.

p1090457

The Guildhall

We’ve got  emperors Claudius, Hadrian, Constantine the Great, Vespasian and Julius Caesar. His statue though is a 1989 replacement by Laurence Tindall following a rare outbreak of vandalism which toppled the original.

p1160301

Conservator, Douglas Carpenter at work.

We musn’t forget the three generals. Ostorius Sacula – defeater of Caractacus – Suetonius Paulinus – who put down Boudicca’s rebellion – and Agricola.

Every ten years or so conservators are called in to check on their condition and make necessary repairs.

Cracks can be filled, moss removed and lime washes added to provide a protective coat.

It’s skilled work  as conservator Douglas Carpenter – from Kilmersdon-based  Cliveden Conservation Workshop – explained.

 

‘Adopt’ a Roman stone

‘Adopt’ a Roman stone

The Roman Baths Foundation has launched an Adopt a Stone scheme to help raise funds for the building of a state-of-the-art Roman Baths Learning Centre as part of the Archway Project (www.romanbaths.co.uk/archway). 

Donors can adopt a variety of stones, which all tell a story about the Roman Baths’ past. Prices range from £100 to £1,000 depending on the stone’s size and historical significance. The special stones, which are not yet on display, are currently lying in an undercroft, which will soon be transformed into the new Roman Baths Learning Centre.

Following a grant of £3.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the £5m Archway Project has now secured more than 95% of its total funding. The Adopt a Stone project will help raise the final £250,000 needed and enable work to start in 2017.

David Beeton, Chairman of the Roman Baths Foundation, a charitable company set up to raise funds for conservation and education work at the Roman Baths, said: “These stones are truly magnificent. Adopting a stone will help the Roman Baths to discover and share each stone’s fascinating past with the young people who will visit the Learning Centre when it opens in 2019.”

archway-project-swallow-street-elevation

An artists impression of how the new Archway Project might look.

Donors will be thanked for their support in a variety of ways depending on the size of the donation. This might include i­nvitations to special events, opportunities to see the conservation of their chosen stone in progress, and acknowledgments on-site at the Roman Baths Learning Centre and/or in launch publicity materials.

Adopting a stone will support conservators to clean, move and display some of these unique stones for young people to investigate in the new Roman Baths Learning Centre and Investigation Zone.

archway-project-artists-impression

The Archway Project will open up areas of the Roman Baths not seen by the public before.

Situated above the former spa laundry in Swallow Street, the new facilities will increase the space dedicated to education at the Roman Baths by 400%. Two new classrooms will enable the Roman Baths to develop formal and informal learning programmes, engaging a wide range of communities and audiences. 

The new Learning Centre will be connected to the Roman Baths by an undercroft that passes through Roman remains beneath York Street. An underground Investigation Zone will provide hands-on access to Roman remains through facilitated learning sessions. 

The Roman Baths welcomes visits from potential donors who would like to see the stones before they are moved. For more information visit www.romanbaths.co.uk/adopt-roman-stone.

 

Bringing the East Bath to life.

Bringing the East Bath to life.

The East Baths area of the Roman Baths, adjacent to the famous Great Bath, will be updated in early 2017, with new interactive displays immersing visitors in the sights and sounds of the Roman bath house.

roman baths

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Projections, soundscapes and CGI reconstructions will show the Roman Baths at the height of their popularity as a working, living and leisure space. Roman characters of all social classes will interact with each other and visitors will be invited to watch, listen and step into the Roman Baths as they would have looked in the first to fourth centuries.

Considered by many to be the women’s quarters of the Roman Baths, the East Baths contained a large tepid bath fed by water that flowed through a pipe from the Great Bath. A series of heated rooms developed and grew until the site reached its maximum extent in the fourth century. There was a plunge pool (balneum), hot room (caldarium), warm room (tepidarium) and changing room (apodyterium).

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “These imaginative new displays will transform the East Baths, bringing them to life for visitors of all ages. This is part of an ongoing programme of development designed to enhance the award-winning visitor experience at the Roman Baths.”

The project includes conservation and protection works to the Roman monument, which will be carried out this autumn. The new displays will then be revealed in March 2017.

Event Communications, a leading experience design company, has been appointed to create the new interpretation, while locally-based Sally Strachey Conservation will carry out the conservation works.

Public talk

Members of the public are invited to find out more about the East Baths development at a free talk on Wednesday 26 October 2016, 6.30pm-7.30pm at the Pump Room (entrance via main Abbey Church Yard entrance). There will be a chance to hear presentations and see plans. Just turn up, no need to book.                                                                                                                                      

‘Milestone’ charity grant for Roman Baths Archway Project

‘Milestone’ charity grant for Roman Baths Archway Project

 

The Archway Project at the Roman Baths has received a grant of £75,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation, a major milestone in funding for the building of a state-of-the-art Roman Baths Learning Centre.

Situated above the former spa laundry in Swallow Street, the new facilities will increase the space dedicated to education at the Roman Baths by 400%. Two new classrooms will enable the Roman Baths to develop formal and informal learning programmes, engaging a wide range of communities and audiences.

archway-project-swallow-street-elevation

An artists impression of how the new Archway Project might look.

The new Learning Centre will be connected to the Roman Baths by an undercroft that passes through Roman remains beneath York Street. An underground Investigation Zone will provide hands-on access to Roman remains through facilitated learning sessions.

The Learning Centre will give more school children a higher standard of facilities and enable the Roman Baths to reach out to a wider variety of people locally and regionally with a range of new learning experiences.

The Roman Baths Foundation is a charitable company set up to raise funds for conservation and education work at the Roman Baths. Fundraising for the Archway Project is its first flagship project.

David Beeton, Chairman of the Roman Baths Foundation, said: “The Foundation is delighted that its efforts to raise funding for a state-of-the-art Learning Centre for the Roman Baths have been supported so enthusiastically by the Garfield Weston Foundation.”

archway-project-artists-impression

The Archway Project will open up areas of the Roman Baths not seen by the public before.

The Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, Philippa Charles, said; “We are delighted to be supporting this project, which will improve the learning experience for those who visit the Baths, which are such an important part of the UK’s heritage.”

The Learning Centre is the largest element in a project that also includes a World Heritage Centre and new access to Roman remains beneath York Street that have never before been on public display.

The Roman Baths has submitted a second stage application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure a grant of nearly £3.5 million towards the £5 million project. The HLF is due to make a decision later this year.

If the fundraising target is achieved, building work will start in summer 2017 and the new Learning Centre and World Heritage Centre will open in early 2019.

For more information visit www.romanbaths.co.uk/archway

 

For your information:

The Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded charitable grant-making foundation which supports a wide range of causes across the UK, donating over £58million in the most recent financial year.

It was established in 1958 by Willard Garfield Weston and since then has donated over £900million, becoming one of the largest and most respected charitable institutions in the UK.

The trustees are descendants of the founder and the Weston Family takes a highly active and hands-on approach.

www.garfieldweston.org

 

It’s a green light for Archway Project.

It’s a green light for Archway Project.

Not surprisingly perhaps, B&NES has given its  Archway Project – which includes the creation of a new Learning Centre for the Roman Baths in Swallow Street and a World Heritage Centre at 10 York Street –  full planning permission and listed building consent.

The Roman Baths Learning Centre will be a fully accessible state-of-the-art centre where school children will participate in exciting hands-on sessions with Roman artefacts and where projects and activities will be run for members of the local community. It will be linked to the Roman Baths via an underground tunnel.

Now they’ve just got to hope the Heritage Lottery Fund comes up with the bulk of the money.

archway-project-swallow-street-elevation

An artists impression of how the new Archway Project might look.

The Learning Centre will also feature an investigation zone set amongst Roman remains, where school children will be able to explore and record archaeological materials, with an excavation area where they will be able to unearth replica Roman objects. This space will be used for family events at weekends and during the school holidays.

The World Heritage Centre will contain imaginative displays that explain why the World Heritage Site of Bath is so special and will encourage people to explore the heritage around the city. Admission will be free for everyone.

The project will also open up areas of Roman remains that have never before been open for regular public access, including a laconicum (sauna) and exercise courtyard.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “We are delighted that planning permission and listed building consent have been granted for the Archway Project. The project will transform learning at the Roman Baths and create a world-class visitor centre where people can find out more about our World Heritage City, as well as opening up new parts of the Roman Baths for public access.”  

archway-project-artists-impression

The Archway Project will open up areas of the Roman Baths not seen by the public before.

The Roman Baths has submitted a second stage application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure a grant of nearly £3.5 million towards the £5 million project. The HLF is due to make a decision later this year.

If the fundraising target is achieved, building work will start in summer 2017 and the new Learning Centre and World Heritage Centre will open in early 2019. This will be followed by a programme of activities and events for local communities, school children and visitors.

For more information about the Archway Project visit www.romanbaths.co.uk/archway-project.  

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery

Torch-lit Baths attract record crowds

Torch-lit Baths attract record crowds

Torchlit Summer Evenings at the Roman Baths attracted record visitor numbers this year. There were more than 40,000 evening visitors during July and August, up from just under 33,000 in 2015 and 29,000 in 2014.

twilight_2-med

Each summer, the Roman Baths stays open until 10pm every evening in July and August, offering visitors the chance to beat the crowds and soak up the special atmosphere around the torchlit Great Bath. Due to its popularity, evening opening will be extended in summer 2017, starting from Saturday 17 June and running until the end of August.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We are delighted with the success of Torchlit Summer Evenings. Late opening at the Roman Baths contributes to Bath’s evening economy, as well as encouraging overnight stays in the city, and reducing crowding during the daytime. This year, more than 3,000 local residents used their Discovery Cards to visit the Roman Baths for free in July and August.”

Visitor comments on Tripadvisor included:

“Beautiful, atmospheric and memorable.”

“…absolutely stunning as the baths is torch-lit in the evening. This was such an interesting place, an absolute must if you’re visiting Bath!”

“The baths look even more fantastic when illuminated by torchlight.”

“Visiting at around 7pm on an August evening was a refreshingly wonderful experience. No queue, few crowds outside and this firm favourite has kept its place in our regular ‘tourist’ visit list.”

“It was one of the best places that I have ever visited. Everything is perfect and you will have an unforgettable experience being there. The best moment was the torch-lit time – absolutely amazing.”

The Roman Baths is now accessible to a wider range of visitors than ever before. New lifts and changes to the building have resulted in better access for disabled visitors, and staff are trained and experienced in helping those with special needs such as autistic visitors. There are special audioguides for visually impaired visitors and British Sign Language users,  and four new audioguide languages have been introduced – Dutch, Korean, Polish and Portuguese – bringing the total number of audioguide languages to 12.

www.romanbaths.co.uk