The Empire Hotel in Bath

The Empire in 2011
The Empire in 2011

Love it or loathe it, the Empire Hotel has been a dominant feature of Bath’s skyline since 1901. The final act of Charles Edward Davis, city architect, it fulfilled his ambition to build a city hotel and left a lasting legacy a year before his death.

The Empire is situated on Orange Grove, close to both Bath Abbey and Pulteney Bridge.

Designed by Major Davis for the hotelier Alfred Holland and built from Bath stone on the site of the Athenaeum, the building occupies a large L shaped block. It is six storeys high plus the octagonal corner tower. The front of the building onto Orange Grove has eight bays and the side overlooking the River Avon has nine bays.

The striking architecture of the roof shows the three classes of people, a castle on the corner for the upper classes, a house for the middle classes and a cottage for the lower classes.

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(Photo above dated around 1917, given model of Renault taxis parked outside the Empire)

During World War II it was owned by the Royal Navy and used as the main postal sorting offices. After the war it was refurbished and became a hotel and restaurant again.

In 1996 the bulk of the building was refurbished into 43 flats, run by Peverel Retirement. Restaurants still  occupy the street level on Grand Parade and Orange Grove.

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