Bathwick historical notes

View towards Bathwick from Alexandra Park
View towards Bathwick from Alexandra Park

In 1553 the Manor of Bathwick was acquired by the Neville family, passing in 1691 to the Earl of Essex and thence by purchase to the Hon. William Pulteney MP (later Earl of Bath) in 1727. The sum paid by Pulteney was £12,000. At the time of purchase, Bathwick was recorded as containing 600 acres, let at a yearly rent of £241, with a mill on the River Avon let at £12.
The Sham Castle Lane area was largely untouched by Georgian development and remained as orchards and market gardens with a few small cottages and smallholdings well into the 20th century post-war years. The original lines of both Sham Castle Lane and Vellore Lane are ancient and stretch back at least as far as the Roman occupation. In 1727, this area was known as No109 Beech Tree Ground. Matthew Marks brewery once stood at the river end of Sham Castle Lane and much trade probably came from hauliers and carters en route to the canal from Bathampton Down and Smallcombe Vale quarries.
Vellore House, now the Bath Spa Hotel, was built in 1835 for Colonel Augustus Andrews who named it after the garrison town of Vellore in India where he was once stationed. It was later the residence of Reverend Charles Kemble, Rector of Bath Abbey and, in 1878, taken over as The Bath College for Boys.
(Extracts compiled from “Bathwick – Echoes of the Past” by the Bathwick Local History Society).

Hidden away in Bathwick, on the banks of the River Avon, is the country’s only surviving Georgian lido. In the early 19th century, visitors were travelling from far and wide to take the spa waters, but the local townspeople of Bath were more likely to simply shed their clothes and swim in the River Avon.  In 1801 nude swimming in the river was prohibited and this led to the creation of the lido, with the subscription list being opened in 1815.  The baths were closed during the 1970s (although they reopened temporarily for a short period in the mid-1980s).  Other than a brief and unsuccessful life as a trout farm, they have been closed ever since.  

Their visual appeal is very apparent, despite the inevitable dereliction that has arisen from lack of use in recent years.  At the centre of the site is the former caretaker’s cottage with attached changing rooms in the form of a miniature Georgian crescent flanking the swimming pool.  With the recent revival of interest in outdoor swimming the pools would provide people with a unique leisure facility, as well as offering an insight into Bath’s social history for residents and visitors alike. Led by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, the Cleveland Pools Trust has teamed up with the Trevor Osborne Property Group to form the Cleveland Pools Alliance.  This alliance is working to establish a sustainable and financially viable long-term use for the pool that will benefit Bath for years to come and ensure its place in the future development of Bath’s outstanding heritage.

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