Work begins on innovative heating project using Bath’s hot springs
19 March 2015
Excavation work is taking place in Kingston Parade (outside the Visitor Information Centre) as part of a joint initiative by Bath Abbey’s Footprint project and Bath & North East Somerset Council to determine the feasibility of installing an eco-friendly system using Bath’s hot springs to heat the Abbey, and the Romans Baths & Pump Room complex.
Every day, a quarter of a million gallons of hot water flow through the Roman Baths from the thermal spring located at the heart of the site. A large quantity of this hot water eventually ends up in the nearby River Avon via the Great Roman Drain. If harnessed correctly and converted as part of the Abbey and B&NES Council’s joint initiative, it could produce 1.5 megawatts of continuous energy – enough to heat the Abbey and the Romans Baths & Pump Room complex.
For the next 2-3 weeks, engineers will be digging four metres below the ground beneath Kingston Parade to carry out a detailed investigation into the feasibility of this scheme. They will determine what lies in this space and establish if this area will be suitable to house the thermal heat exchanger – the equipment needed to convert unused energy from the spring water into a thermal heating system. All the necessary consents have been obtained and the work will respect the historic nature of the surrounding fabric. An archaeologist will be working alongside the engineers to document and interpret any objects that may be uncovered by the excavation.
Once the investigation is complete, the ground will be covered back up and the engineers will produce a feasibility study with their recommendations on where and how the thermal heat exchanger will be housed. Throughout this work the Visitor Information Centre will remain open.
Stephen Bird, Head of Heritage Services for Bath & North East Somerset Council, said “We’re pleased to be undertaking investigations alongside Bath Abbey on what could result in a fantastic project, not just for the Roman Baths and the Abbey, but for the city as a whole. It’s no surprise that this has really captured the public’s imagination - it’s an innovative project potentially using Bath’s famous hot springs to harness natural energy in order to heat two of Bath’s famous landmarks.”
Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director from Bath Abbey, said: “The Abbey’s Victorian heating system is sadly outdated, inefficient and expensive to maintain. This combined with the work we’re doing as part of our Footprint project to repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor makes this the ideal time for us to consider a new underfloor heating system. We’re delighted to be working in collaboration with B&NES Council on this and our joint proposal for an innovative thermal heating scheme using Bath’s hot springs ticks all the right boxes, while providing a sustainable and eco-friendly solution for both the Abbey and the Roman Baths & Pump Room complex.”
Cllr Ben Stevens (Lib Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, added: “It’s great to be able to work with Bath Abbey on this exciting project. The Abbey, working with the Council, want to preserve as much of this city’s important heritage while improving the environmental sustainability of our historic buildings. In a city like Bath, this should be applauded. This project, alongside the broader Abbey Footprint and the Council’s own Archway Centre project, will really enhance the heritage offer in Bath and we can all be proud of it.”
All Bath team to help Bath Abbey make Footprint a reality
5 March 2015
Bath Abbey has chosen four Bath based companies to lead the design and build work for its Footprint project.
Following a rigorous 4-month tender process, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) has been reappointed as the lead consultant and architect for Footprint, while Buro Happold and Mann Williams have been retained as MEP and structural engineers. In addition, Duncan Ball from Synergy LLP’s Bath office will continue in his role as the project’s Quantity Surveyor, with Paul Grinham from the same company in the newly created role of Footprint Project Manager.
Charles Curnock from Bath Abbey who will continue to oversee Footprint as the Project Director said: “We were delighted by the high calibre of responses to the invitation to tender for the key consultancy roles for the Footprint project’s design and build team. While we received competitive tenders from all across the UK, we are very pleased to be once again working with FCBS, Buro Happold, Mann Williams and Synergy LLP, all companies based in Bath.
“What especially attracted us to working with this team is their experience of working with historic listed buildings, coupled with proven track records of providing innovative, sustainable and relevant solutions to their clients’ needs. We’re confident we have the right team in place –one which really understands and shares our vision to transform the Abbey and make it useable, sustainable and hospitable for all.”
Geoff Rich, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, said: “We were delighted to hear that we have been awarded the opportunity to continue as architects on an amazing project for Bath Abbey and the World Heritage city of Bath. We began work on the Footprint project nearly five years ago and since then we have worked closely with the Abbey to understand and define its future needs and to develop design solutions.”
In May 2014, the Abbey received development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its Footprint project in order to help progress plans to secure a full grant of £10m bid at a later date. The Footprint project is a £19.3 million programme of capital works and interpretation which will repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s hot springs, and provide new, improved space and facilities to ensure the Abbey is more sustainable, hospitable and usable for the half a million people who use it every year. www.bathabbey.org/footprint
Bath Abbey appoints design company and planning consultant to support Footprint project
Issued 22 January 2015
Bath Abbey has appointed design company, ABG Design, and strategic planning consultants, Julia Holberry Associates, to work alongside their Interpretation Officer to develop new and exciting ways of sharing the Abbey’s 1,200 year history with visitors, as part of the Abbey’s long-term Footprint project.
Cornish company ABG Design will be responsible for the creative design of all new interpretation and displays, while Julia Holberry Associates who are based in Oxford will be consulting Bath residents and visitors to understand how people engage with the Abbey in order to help extend and develop the current plans for interpretation, learning and participation.
Howard Miles, Managing Director ABG Design, said: “We’re thrilled to have been selected to work with the Abbey on such a significant project as Footprint. Thousands of people visit the Abbey each month and we feel privileged to be tasked with coming up with the overall look and feel of the interpretation and displays that will help draw them in, enable them to discover the many fascinating stories the Abbey has to tell, and to help them connect with the Abbey on their level.”
Julia Holberry of Julia Holberry Associates, said: “We’re very excited about our role in the Footprint project, which is to ask local people for their feedback about how they engage with the Abbey’s events and activities, what they would like to see more of and, on the basis of those discussions, devise a programme of activities that will inspire everyone to visit, enjoy and learn about the Abbey.”
The work being done by both companies will be essential in helping the Abbey meet the Heritage Lottery Fund’s requirements during the Footprint project’s development phase. While the Footprint project is driven by the need to repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor, one of Footprint’s key objectives is to provide a new interpretation centre which will inspire and encourage visitors to explore the church building, its rich history as well as to help people make connections with the Abbey’s present day activities.
Commenting on the two new appointments, Oliver Taylor, Bath Abbey’s Interpretation Officer, said: “Bath Abbey is a thriving church in the centre of Bath with lots of stories to tell, past and present whether it’s about the music, the building or the people. It means different things to different people and everyone connects with it in a different way. Both teams that we’ll be working with understand the wonderful opportunities, as well as challenges, that this diversity presents. Our aim, through Footprint, is that our new interpretation and activities programme will make the Abbey a more welcoming, exciting and inspiring place for people to visit and explore.”
CITY’S BUSINESS LEADERS GATHER IN SUPPORT OF ABBEY’S FOOTPRINT PROJECT
Issued 6 October 2014
Bath Abbey’s role in the city and the implications of its Footprint project for Bath’s economy were explored at a business breakfast on Wednesday 1 October.
Over 70 of the city’s business leaders gathered for breakfast at the Pump Room to find out more about the Abbey’s £19.3 million Footprint project and the benefits of supporting the fundraising appeal. The project had earlier this year received earmarked funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a £10 million grant provided the Abbey is able to raise an additional £7 million to make up the balance of the funding by 2016.
Guests, who included representatives from Clarke Wilmott, Hamptons International, Wessex Chamber of Commerce and The Abbey Hotel, were greeted by members of the Abbey’s Footprint Appeal Board and Edward Mason, the Rector of Bath Abbey. This was followed by the screening of a short film about the project which aims to make the Abbey more hospitable, more sustainable and more useable for future generations. A key aspect of Footprint includes repairing the Abbey’s collapsing floor and installing an eco-friendly heating system using the city’s famous hot springs, as part of a partnership with B&NES.
Colin Skellett, Chief Executive of Wessex Water and chairman of the Abbey’s Footprint Appeal Board, laid out the economic case for supporting the Footprint project.
Mr Skellett said: “For over a thousand years Bath Abbey has been at the heart of the city. Today, it continues to make a major contribution to the life and livelihood of Bath. Many people in the city have some connection with the Abbey and most businesses benefit from its economic draw. It is clear that something needs to be done now about the massive strain that’s being put on its structure and how its resources are being pushed to the limit.”
“The challenge to Bath businesses is to show their support by helping the Abbey make Footprint a reality. This is an ambitious but very much achievable project which will maintain and make the most of this magnificent building. So the Abbey will continue to inspire and bring lasting benefits to future generations and the city’s economy.”
For more information about Bath Abbey’s Footprint project visit www.bathabbey.org/footprint or follow @bathfootprint on Twitter.
BATH ABBEY’S FUNDRAISING APPEAL GETS OFF TO £1.1 MILLION START
Issued 9 September 2014
Bath Abbey is this week launching a public fundraising campaign to raise £7 million towards its Footprint project. However, it has already been given a massive boost by its congregation and the Friends of Bath Abbey who have pledged an amazing total of £1.1 million towards the appeal.
The Footprint project will repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s unique hot springs, create 200 sq metres of additional space and provide new and improved facilities for the half a million people who use the Abbey every year.
Commenting on the Abbey community’s generosity the Rector of Bath Abbey, the Reverend Prebendary Edward Mason, said: “It’s wonderful, what a remarkable group of people! Less than six months ago, the Abbey invited its members to consider the Footprint project by pledging gifts. In this short space of time, the total raised has risen to £1.1 million, an amazing response. Footprint is about sustaining a Christian presence at the Abbey in the heart of Bath for the next century and these gifts demonstrate the congregation and The Friends of Bath Abbey’s commitment to the project.”
Preparatory work for the Abbey’s Footprint project dates back to 2009 but this is the first time the Abbey will be making a fundraising appeal to the public. Laura Brown, Footprint Appeal Director, said: “We’re very grateful to our congregation and the Friends of Bath Abbey whose support means that our fundraising campaign has got off to an unbelievably great start. £1.1 million is a substantial amount and puts us well on our way towards our target of £7 million. The next step is for the wider community to get involved and we hope the Abbey community’s belief in the Footprint project will encourage others to give as well.
“Most people in the city have some connection with the Abbey, whether they’ve come in for the architecture, the music or a service. Our challenge now is to get others to share our vision of making the Abbey more hospitable, more sustainable and more useable for everyone in order to make Footprint a reality.”
Commenting on why he is supporting the Footprint project, Jeff Jupp, Chair of The Friends of Bath Abbey, said: “As a member of this busy, thriving church in the centre of Bath, I cannot fail to appreciate what a wonderful place the Abbey is. However, such is the growing demand on this magnificent medieval building that its very fabric is beginning to strain. We also want to open the church out and make it more accessible for everybody but unless it’s developed, the Abbey will become increasingly impractical for its busy programme of services and events, for visitors and worshippers alike.
“While I hope personally to enjoy the changes the Footprint project will bring to the Abbey, what is much more significant is that it will bring lasting benefits for future generations. The changes we make now will be here in over 100 years’ time and this is what I and The Friends are really pledging towards.”
Earlier this year, the Footprint project received earmarked funding* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a £10 million bid. Development funding of £389,000 was awarded to help progress plans to secure the full grant at a later date. In order to unlock the full award of £10 million from HLF, the Abbey will need to raise around £7 million in additional funding. The Abbey community’s pledge of £1.1 million towards Footprint means there remains less than £6 million to raise from a combination of grant-making trusts and foundations, plus individual donations.
For more information about Bath Abbey’s Footprint project visit www.bathabbey.org/footprint or follow @bathfootprint on Twitter.
Bath Abbey Floor Hots Up
Issued 25 October 2013
After 22 weeks of restoration work, a section of the floor in Bath Abbey’s North aisle has been successfully repaired saving it from eventual collapse. This section of the floor has also been fitted with underfloor heating pipes that, as part of the Abbey’s long-term Footprint project, will be fuelled using Bath’s famous thermal water.
The new heating will be carefully monitored for the next 12 months in order to measure its effectiveness with different floor surfaces. Two-thirds of the floor in the trial area will be recovered with the original ledger stones while the final third will be covered in new stone.
Once the trial is completed, the Abbey will use the findings and methodologies to repair the whole of the Abbey’s floor and to install underfloor heating throughout. This will provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution to the Abbey’s long-term heating needs, thanks to a partnership with Bath & North East Somerset Council to power it using the hot water which flows from the Roman Baths next door.
Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director at Bath Abbey, said: "The floor trial work in the North aisle is imperative as we need to repair the collapsing floor. At the same time, having already identified the need to replace the present Victorian heating system with a greener, more cost effective solution, the opportunity to install under floor heating was too good to miss.
"While the more observant among our visitors and worshippers might spot the discrepancy where the new floor meets the old, the really exciting bits will all be happening underneath! What makes it even more remarkable is the thought that in just a few years’ time the Abbey will be heated by Bath’s great natural resource – the thermal water which currently runs out unused into the river."
The North aisle floor trial has been funded by the Coles-Medlock Foundation and Brian and Margaret Roper, and is a significant step forward for the Abbey’s Footprint project. The £18 million project aims to transform the Abbey, repair the floor, install underfloor heating using the energy from the thermal baths and create 200 square metres of additional space and facilities in order to meet the needs of the community and to enhance the Abbey’s service to the city.
Bath Abbey Floor To Undergo Vital Repair And Heating Trial
Issued 11 July 2013
A small section of Bath Abbey’s floor will be lifted and repaired for the first time in over 100 years as part of a trial for the Abbey’s transformative Footprint project. New under floor heating will also be installed under this section of the floor to trial the process which will eventually take place under the whole of the floor in the Abbey. The work has been made possible thanks to generous donations from the Coles-Medlock Foundation and Brian and Margaret Roper.
The trial work will begin in early July and is scheduled to last until the end of the year. The Abbey will remain open throughout the work however the entrance to the Abbey will be temporarily moved to the entrance nearest the Roman Baths, beside the Abbey shop.
Five small trial excavations of the floor which were undertaken in 2011 and 2012 revealed that the Abbey’s historic floor is at risk. Through time and regular use the floor is collapsing and leaving large voids, some of which extend under the structure of the building.
An area sized 50 metres square in the north aisle of the Abbey will have pews temporarily removed, and the stone floor lifted. Voids beneath the floor will then be carefully filled, drilling down to about 2 metres. Once the repair work has been completed under floor heating will be installed and a stone floor re-laid. The heating system will then be monitored for its effectiveness over a period of twelve months.
Volunteers from the Abbey and NADFAS (National Association of Fine and Decorative Arts) will be working during the early part of the project to record details from the ledger stones which have been hidden underneath the pews since they were installed in the 1870’s during the Gilbert Scott renovation of the Abbey. The ledger stones will be carefully lifted and stored securely during the work.
Charles Curnock, Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project Director, said: “This is the beginning of an exciting time for all involved in the Footprint project. Many churches have a similar problem with their floor but none as large, or as busy, as Bath Abbey. We want to ensure the Abbey remains open and available to all throughout the repairs. Therefore we are working on just 5% of the floor whilst temporarily moving the entrance and exit doors. This trial will be a good opportunity for visitors and local people to discover more about the Abbey’s historic floor and see first hand the work taking place.”
The work will be done by building contractors, Emerys of Bath with Bath based engineers and architects: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Mann Williams, Bare, Leaning and Bare and Buro Happold.
Planning permission and listed building consent granted by B&NES
Issued 13 March 2013
Bath Abbey has today (13 March 2013) been granted planning permission and listed building consent by Bath and North East Somerset Council. Councillors on the Development Control Committee voted overwhelmingly in favour of plans to improve public and ancillary support facilities at the Abbey, which includes a new Song School, alterations to Kingston Buildings, the 1920s Jackson Extension to Bath Abbey, the Clergy Vestry and adjoining vaults and cellars.
Seven years of consultation, planning and work have resulted in the current plans with 444 people recording their support for the project on the B&NES website.
Edward Mason, Rector of Bath Abbey, said: “We are thrilled to have been given planning permission, and are especially grateful for the warm encouragement and professional cooperation we have received. The vote is indicative of the strength of partnership of the Abbey with B&NES and many other organisations in the centre of Bath a shining example of how people can work together for the community’s good.”
Charles Curnock, Director of the Footprint project, said “This is a very significant day for the Abbey, for the Council and the city. We can promise you that we’ll continue to work closely with B&NES and all who long to see the Abbey and our community flourish. A huge amount of consultation, discussion and listening has gone into this and we’re very grateful to everyone for their contributions. Together, we want to protect the fabric of this precious building and to make it a space for everyone: and this is a big step towards this goal.”
Locals voice support for Bath Abbey Footprint
Issued 12 September 2012
Since submitting plans to the Bath & North East Somerset Council on 2 August (2012), Bath Abbey has received nearly 500 letters of support in favour of its proposed Footprint development project from members of the congregation, visitors, local councillors, schools, businesses and residents.
In addition, results from a recent survey of the Abbey community indicate that an overwhelming majority of people are in favour of the project. Almost all of those who responded (96%) felt that their experience of the Abbey would be enhanced as a result of the changes. The most popular aspects of the plans for Bath Abbey Footprint are the addition of new toilets, cloakrooms and baby changing facilities, closely followed by an inventive and environmentally-friendly heating system which uses energy from the hot springs.
Respondents to the survey also endorsed the need for new catering facilities, meeting rooms and vestries. The Abbey is open seven days a week with a variety of formal and informal worship, welcomes over 400,000 visitors a year, and is the second largest venue in the city for concerts. However, there is currently only one toilet for disabled visitors and a small kitchen to cater for a busy programme of services and events. One member of the Abbey community stated that the most important part of the development for them is “provision of toilets and improved lighting – which will not only benefit everyone but disabled and elderly people in particular”.
There is also much excitement about the creation of better facilities for the Abbey’s choirs. One respondent pointed out that: “We have a world class choir with inadequate facilities.” The current makeshift arrangements throw choristers of all ages into one changing room without lockers with a far from ideal rehearsal space, which is too small and in the midst of a service area. The Abbey requires facilities to accommodate its choirs in an acceptable way and to give a proper welcome to an array of guest choirs, musicians and performers.
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In the News
|13 March 2013||£18 Bath Abbey revamp plans approved|
|13 March 2013||Planning permission granted for Bath Abbey renovation|
|12 September 2012||Hundreds behind £18m Bath Abbey facelift|
|15 August 2012||Laura steps in to lead Abbey's Footprint project fundraising|
|25 July 2012||Plans submitted to revolutionise Abbey|
|22 March 2012||Bath Abbey reveals £18mn plans for makeover|
|22 March 2012||Bath Abbey's uneven floor must be relaid|
|2 February 2011||Revealed: New discoveries made in Bath Abbey dig|
|6 January 2011||Dig begins under floor of the Abbey|
|9 March 2010||Abbey to get 21st century makeover|