The last straws

The last straws

One of Bath’s big hotels is joining the anti-plastic straw campaign and setting itself up as a water ‘re-filling station’ as part of the city’s growing environmental effort.


The Apex City of Bath Hotel is part of a national family-owned hotel group which has announced action across all ten of their properties.

In a press statement released today the Group says:

‘In celebration of World Environment Day (Tuesday, June 5th), Apex confirms two brand new initiatives in the fight against plastic. The national day is organised by the United Nation’s every year to encourage people to help protect the environment.’

The hotel group calculated that over 33,000 straws were used in the past 11 months in Apex properties.

Angela Vickers, CEO of Apex. Apex Hotel opening, Bath 18th October 2017.

Angela Vickers, CEO of Apex. Apex Hotel opening, Bath 18th October 2017.

Angela Vickers, CEO of Apex Hotels, said: “Like many others within the hospitality industry, we are determined to play our part in protecting the environment.

It is our duty to be environmentally conscious so it was important to us to ensure plastic straws were banned from all our hotels. When you think of the potential billions of straws that are used every year here in the UK, this is a step in the right direction to ensure we are doing our bit to help reduce the plastic that is put into the environment.”

Apex Hotels will only stock Plastico PLA Cold Drink Straws which are made from 100% renewable resources, and the Utopia Paper Straw Range which are fully recyclable, biodegradable and completely food safe.

All hotels in the portfolio, which include hotels in London, Glasgow, Dundee, Bath and Edinburgh, have also just become water refilling stations as part of another UK wide initiative to reduce plastic waste.

The hotel brand has signed up with Refill which now has over 1,600 refill stations in the UK.

This means that Apex Hotels will be listed on the Refill app as a refill station, allowing members of the public to come into the hotel with their own water bottle and refill with water for free.

Angela continues: “This is another great initiative which we are proud to be a part of. By encouraging people to reuse their water bottles and refill, it helps reduce the tonnes of plastic that end up in landfills and oceans.

“This is also a part of our #warmerwelcome campaign where we are always looking for new ways to help guests get the most out of their stay.”

Customers can download the app to find stations and each hotel will have a sticker which will notify passers-by.

The Eagle has wings!

The Eagle has wings!

Things have been looking up recently for one of Bath’s most unusual but well-loved green spaces.


Hedgemead Park was laid out – in the late 19th century – on the site of an earlier residential development destroyed by a landslip.

In 1883 it was agreed that the City Corporation would acquire the unstable ground and plant it as a public park in order to consolidate the dangerous slope.


When opened, the site was known as Hedgemead Pleasure Ground and was laid out with a series of contoured walks, a terrace walk and bandstand, an ornamental cast-iron drinking fountain, and terraces retained by stone walls and structural planting designed to consolidate the slope.


‘Vedgemead’ Park – with that special vegetable -enhanced flower bed.

Time has taken its toll on the place but the park hit the local headlines when a flower bed was planted with edibles and re-named Vegmead!

The bandstand has been restored and now – a newly-formed Friends of Hedgemead have started work on that ornamental drinking fountain.


The recently=restored bandstand.

Some of the specialist work – analysing what original paint was used and re-gilding the eagle at the top of the fountain – has been undertaken by Bath’s World Heritage Enhancement Fund which is meeting the costs.


Graham Groom explains to a park user what is happening to the fountain.

Ainslie Ensom – the Fund Administrator – told Bath Newseum:

“The WHEF has been involved in trying to refurbish the fountain in Hedgemead Park for years, and today, thanks to co-operative efforts from us, the Parks Department, our new mayor Patrick Anketell-Jones and the newly formed Friends of Hedgemead Park, the work begins.’

The eagle is to be re-gilded

Bath Newseum caught up with Graham Groom – one of the ‘Friends’  volunteers – at the fountain site where he has been helping to prepare the structure for its new coat of paint. So what happens then?
 Meanwhile, Roger Houghton reminds us of another project the World Heritage Enhancement Fund might like to support.
He writes:

A useful place for a drinking fountain – if only it worked!


Photo Roger Houghton



Bath’s first floating market underway.

Bath’s first floating market underway.

Bath’s first-ever floating market is underway today, tomorrow and Monday at Darlington Wharf on the Kennet and Avon Canal.


A line of narrow boats – selling all manner of things- are moored along that stretch of the waterway from the tunnel into Sydney Gardens out towards the sloping exit path to Grosvenor Bridge and the London Road.




The narrowboat-based men and women are trading between 11 am and 4pm and there’s also refreshments, pizza and a busker’s stage – if you fancy a go.



Just a warning for cyclists – and l am one – please dismount when you pass through that stretch. There are a lot of people there – with children and dogs – and l witnessed one speeding and selfish cyclist while l was there.



While we’re talking about the slope down to Grosvenor Bridge, regular users will know young Nat Cross has been hard at work developing a market garden beside the main line to London.



He has started his Saturday openings today. A chance to see where the fresh produce you buy has been grown.



A sunshine tour.

A sunshine tour.

The hottest April day since 1949 and some good news amidst the sunshine.



Welcome back!


The fountain in Laura Place is back in action after the installation of a new pump. It’s the only real fountain the city has and – just like what is left of Mr Pieroni’s architectural offering on Bog Island – is in need of some long-term tender love and care.

Both fountains need real money spent on them or – long term – they will be lost.

Back to the good news. I have been gently chiding Garfunkel’s Restaurant – on the ground floor of the Empire Hotel – about their exterior planting troughs full of plastic flowers.

Somehow it seemed ironic to me that they should be there when just across the road was a riverside park which has constantly won awards for its living blooms.


Now you see them.

Bath seems to have more success in saying it with flowers – thanks to an overstretched and under-funded parks department – than it does with celebrating its waters.

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Now you don’t!

But back to the restaurant where – l am pleased to say – the artificial flowers are gone. The manager tells me he is looking to source some living plants to go outside his restaurant. At last! It will help make his business bloom!


The area between the two eight-storey​ buildings is gradually​​y being transformed into a​ riverside park.

Good to see the new riverside park taking shape as part of the Crest development down by Victoria Bridge.


Royal View with Sovereign Point – still under construction – beyond.

Whatever you think of the new eight-storey apartment blocks – taking shape on the riverbank – it’s fair to say Bath has not seen anything like them before.


The photography exhibition by David Molina Gadea in the Holburne Museum Garden.

Back into town and the Holburne Museum cafe-goers are sharing their garden space with an exhibition of photographs called The Long Way Home which reflects on the long journey that refugees across the world undertake when they decide to leave their homes in pursuit of a new place to call “home”.


These contemporary ‘monoliths’ are part of the photographic exhibition by David Molina Gadea who is a member of the Portuguese agency of photojournalism. They make a striking sight in the museum garden.

It’s a striking display with a strong message.


Who has set up camp in Sydney Gardens? The tepees are part of a ‘corporate event’ being held here on Friday, April 20th. B&NES is looking to get more revenue from its parks but – somehow – it’s a bit of an affront to the people who use this public space that part of it is being ‘denied’ to them. Even on a temporary basis.

Into Sydney Gardens, where three large tepees have been erected for what l was told, was a ‘corporate event’ today – Friday, April 20th. The cash-strapped Council is obviously out to extract more commercial value from its parks – and cannot be blamed for that. l just feel its a temporary denial of public space for the benefit of a private enterprise. I am not aware of any notices going up to warn of the event.


A bit of a tidy up

Onto the towpath and finally, the Canal and River Trust is removing the growing rubbish heap that had been created in and around a bag of grit that had been left on the grass verge by the path down to Grosvenor Bridge.

The Trust doesn’t provide proper rubbish bins and so – maybe – you can’t blame people for looking for somewhere to put litter. It’s one of the reasons we find so many discarded dog poo bags on the towpath too.


I am always full of admiration for the one-man team B&NES employs to keep the city clear of graffiti. Caught him at work on Grosvenor Bridge. The horrid concrete replacement for what was a fine suspension bridge that disappeared many years ago.

Finally – across Grosvenor Bridge – where the one-man-band that is the city’s Graffiti Unit was hard at work removing more evidence of this urban blight. It’s a spot from where l have often stopped to photograph a half-submerged tree up-river of the bridge on the Avon.


There’s life in that old river tree yet!

It’s bare branches look stark in the winter. I often wonder how long it will be before what is left of its roots gives way and the tree is carried off during the next rain-induced flood surge. Yet here – on this sunny morning – one of its branches was covered in new growth. Takes a lot to make Nature lose her grip.




New pump for Laura Place​ fountain​

New pump for Laura Place​ fountain​

It’s official. The reason why the fountain in Laura Place is not operating. It needs a new pump.


Filled but not functioning?

I bumped into the contractors filling the bowl as part of the fountain’s recommissioning after its winter isolation. Come time to flick the switch and nothing happened.

It needs a new pump. As far as Bath Newseum is concerned it needs a kind sponsor to spend some money on what is a slowly disintegrating poor excuse of a spectacle to help celebrate this city of waters.

I will try and let you know when the fountain is working again. In the meantime, a reminder of what it looks like in action!



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

royal crescent

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.


The original Tite Mineral Water Fountain in Stall Street. © BathinTime

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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


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.


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


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


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?


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









Tap us up!

Tap us up!

About 50 Bath businesses have so far signed up for a water bottle refill scheme to help cut down on the use of single-use plastic bottles.

Refill is a national, practical tap water campaign that aims to make refilling your bottle as easy, convenient and cheap as possible by introducing refill points on every street.IMG_7319

Bath and North East Somerset Council is supporting the Refill scheme and its café at the One Stop shop in Lewis House, in Manvers Street, is the first council venue to be added as a refill station.

Meanwhile, stickers are appearing in the local shops and cafes promoting the scheme which also uses an app to help you find the Refill Stations and collect reward points every time you refill.

Refill Bath co-ordinator Vipul Patel, is working with volunteers to promote the campaign aimed at reducing plastic pollution and promoting health hydration by making refilling a bottle of water easy.


Saw this poster in Rosarios in Northumberland Place .

Recycling your bottles is good but reducing the number you use is even better – here in the UK an estimated 800 plastic bottles a minute are either ending up in landfill or as litter, which too often makes its way into our waterways and out to sea.*

Councillor Bob Goodman (Conservative Combe Down) cabinet member for development and neighbourhoods, said: “We welcome this scheme because it is part of a commitment to discourage and hopefully eradicate single-use plastic bottles which we all know are a significant environmental issue. It is great that already around 50 Bath businesses have signed up to provide free tap water for anyone who wants to refill their bottles and I hope many more will join the Refill scheme.”

In the UK, we use a staggering 36 million plastic bottles every day – that’s 13 billion a year – enough to go around the world 31 times – but we recycle only 58% of them.

There are now more than 5,700 Refill points around the UK. For more information about the scheme and to find out about the app go to and as RefillBath on Twitter and Facebook

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