Bristol-based construction firm Beard has completed work on a project to bring 2,000 years of heritage to life, for visitors to the historic city of Bath.
The Archway Project, comprising a new World Heritage Centre and Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre, has been handed over to Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) council, which will now focus on the fit-out of the buildings ready for opening later this year.
The project represents another key development in the heritage sector for family-run Beard, which has established an impressive track record in the restoration of landmark and historic buildings in the region.
Beard was able to draw on that extensive experience and management of complex buildings for the Archway Project, which partly involved working underground to develop the learning centre amongst ancient Roman remains dating back circa 2,000 years.
Mike Hedges, director at Bristol-based Beard, said it was a truly unique project which brought out the best in the team in terms of problem-solving, technical expertise, quality of finish and seamless delivery. He said: “It is extremely rare that anybody gets to go to work everyday among 2,000-year-old remains, which are literally part of the fabric of our nation’s history.
“Of course, the Romans were renowned for their innovative building and engineering skills. So as a construction firm with a specialism in the heritage sector, it was a truly unique experience to work among the remains of their construction work.
“It is a project that will bring this fascinating part of our history to life for future generations and we’re proud to have played our part in creating the setting and space for that to happen.”
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project will provide:
• A World Heritage Centre in York Street with free admission, where people can find out why Bath is so special, and pick up trails and guides to help them explore the World Heritage Site;
• A Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre for pre-booked school and community groups, with three state-of-the-art learning rooms, and a hands-on Investigation Zone set among real Roman remains;
• New areas of the Roman Baths including a Roman gym and laconicum (a type of sauna) that will be brought to life for Roman Baths visitors by projections and sounds depicting the Roman spa experience.
B&NES Council Leader Kevin Guy, who toured the Archway Project last week, said: “After a huge amount of hard work by the project team, architects and construction company, it’s wonderful to see the buildings looking so spectacular. There is still more work to be done, but we look forward to opening these three areas to the public later this year.”
Richard Samuel, Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Resources, said: “It’s great news that construction work has been successfully completed and the buildings handed over to the Council. We are now counting down to the opening, when residents, visitors and school children will be able to enjoy these fantastic new facilities and all of the exciting activities that will happen in them.”
Councillor Dine Romero, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, added: “About 15,000 school children and community groups are expected to use the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre every year. The new, purpose-built facilities will improve the quality of their visit to the Roman Baths dramatically, with specially designed learning rooms and a hands-on Investigation Zone which will offer a memorable experience for primary school children.”
For more information about the project go to: www.romanbaths.co.uk/archway.