Grant will help Roman Baths develop ‘Learning Centre’

Roman Baths in Baths
The Roman Baths in Bath, England, as seen on May 7, 2014. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

A £168,000 ($270,000) grant will help the Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Heritage Services develop the Roman Baths Learning Centre and World Heritage Interpretation Centre in Bath, England.

The Centre will be locate in buildings on York Street and Swallow streets. Officials in England believe the new learning center will improve the learning potential for visitors to the Roman Baths facility.

The natural hot springs were used long before the Romans under Emperor Claudius invaded Britain starting in 43 AD. Archaeological evidence shows human activity around the springs dating to 8,000 BC, and the ruins today stand at the center of this historic city of 88,000, located about 90 minutes west of London by train, and draw more than a million people to the charming city.

“The Roman Baths are synonymous with the UK’s Roman heritage, but Bath is also home to fascinating Georgian and Victorian history which is sometimes overlooked,”Nerys Watts, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said in a news release.

“This project will significantly enhance this world renowned site’s offer to visitors — both from home and further afield and open up the long and intricate history of Bath,” Watts said. “Our initial support means that detailed plans can be worked up over the coming months that will include providing first-class learning and educational provisions, regenerate currently empty and dilapidated historic buildings and create far better access for everyone to enjoy.”

An existing tunnel under York Street will give school groups direct access into the heart of the Baths. The second round of the project will also interpret and breathe new life into the currently much-overlooked Victorian spa buildings close to the Roman Baths, open up more in-situ remains for daytime visitors to see and create an underground ‘investigation zone’ for learning groups of all ages.

These improvements will allow local people and the many thousands of tourists that visit every year to rediscover the Roman, Georgian and Victorian heritage of Bath, officials contend. Plans also include innovative plans to use energy recovered from waste water in the Roman Drain to heat the Centre.

“We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund trustees have recognised the potential of this project. The Council takes seriously its responsibility to realise the educational potential of the Roman Baths for groups of all ages, as well as to interpret the City of Bath World Heritage Site,” Councillor Ben Stevens, a Lib-Dem from Widcombe and a cabinet member for sustainable development, said in a news release. “This initial support takes us a step closer to achieving both.”

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