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The Historical Significance of Bath's Hot Water Springs

Discuss About The Geothermal Baths Swimming Pools And Spas.

One of the most important cities in the southwestern part of England since the pre-Georgian era is the city of Bath. The importance of the city relied on the aristocracy of the city rather than the military strategic locations or the geo-political location of the city. The British sense of aristocracy is well-established in the whole world. The city is known for giving rise to the various wonders and the innovative notions in the world, has also been known for the aristocratic lifestyles and the architectural marvels that are existent within the city. The country is known to be the city of the Monarchs and the major principles that is followed by the monarchy is the concept of leading a luxurious life. The country of Britain is known for the architectural marvels. The country till date predates the present United Kingdom and is known for the several architectural styles that have been adapted by the country from all over the world. These architectural styles include the architectural styles that were followed by the Greeks and the Roman as well as the contemporary styles.

Figure 1: The map of Bath

Source: (Neale 2014)


The city of Bath is observed to have been aptly named and is famous for the huge Roman baths that are present in the city. In the recent times, the city might be referred to as the in tern al spa. According to Rogers (2014), the city was known as Aquae Sulis in 60 AD which meant “water of the Sulis” and served the purpose of one of the areas wherein people from all over Europe visited in order to enjoy a bath in the various hot water springs that are present within the city. There were religious values attached to the Bath Abbey that was founded in the 7th century. The structure was rebuilt in the 12th century since the structure had been greatly affected by the huge amount of time that had passed by. The Bath Abbey had undergone another reconstruction in the 16th century in order to maintain the same. Neale (2014) had claimed that the claims of the medicinal properties of the Bath had led to an increase in the concerned number of tourists who had been visiting the area. Haraldsson (2014) had mentioned that the Georgian Era had also witnessed similar conditions when people from all across the world had started to visit the area in order to get a cure for the various diseases that they had been facing. This had resulted from the conditions wherein there had been information regarding the medicinal properties of the water of the Bath. The architectural patterns of the Georgian era are considered to be vary royal in the appearances and consists of the various features like precious and the various semi-precious and demonstrated the incorporation of the intricate designs in the various architectures that were build during this time.

Bath: A City of Architectural Marvels

Figure 2: A Hot Spring in Bath

Source: (Neale 2014)

The Bath is often considered to be one of the most beautiful cities of the continent of Europe. This is due to the afore-mentioned decorative characteristics of the city of Bath. The key reason behind the existence of the city and the thriving of the city of Bath is the existence of the various hot water springs in the concerned city. A common folklore of the city states that the father of King Lear, commonly known by the name of Prince Bladud, had been affected by the disease of leprosy. Edmunds (2014) opines that the king had been cured of the dreadful disease after taking dips in the concerned hot water spring in the city of Bath. The Celtic times had witnessed a huge footfall of the visitors who believed in the fact that the hot water springs had various medical effects as well as considered the concerned area to be a holy destination. The people majorly flocked to the city in order to get a cure for the various diseases that were considered incurable in those days. The number of the tourists visiting the city of Bath in order to get rid of the various incurable diseases like the infertility, leprosy, small pox and other such diseases had increased by leaps and bounds. However, it might be pointed out that the current look of the city was developed in the seventeenth century. The seventeenth century witnessed the development of the city into an ornate and a very beautiful place which had luxurious buildings and various wonderful properties that were beautiful to look at. The structures of the houses were generally meek and humble in their nature. The city might be described as a pretty one but not highly luxurious to be noticed from a distance.

Figure 3: Pre-Georgian Bath Plan

Source: (Neale 2014)


There were several incidents that led to the transformation of the Bath to the beautiful city that it has been in the present times. One of the primary reasons for the for the beautification of the city pertain to Queen Anne’s visit to the concerned city, which is considered to be one of the greatly celebrated events in the history of the city that had taken place in the year 1702. This incident had led to the increase in the number of the members of the city who demonstrated a high level of interest in the rituals that pertained to taking a bath in the hot springs to be a luxurious activity and the mark of being an aristocrat. This was considered to be an activity for the amusement of the concerned people who were habituated in visiting the hot springs, taking baths in them, gambling and thus enjoying the companionship of each other. However, it should be pointed out that the concerned city might not have been elevated to the status of an amusement centre and spa resort had it not been for Richard Nash who had brought with himself the plan of bringing about a transformation of the city as well as enabling an increase in his own fortunes.

Transformation of Bath into a Thriving Spa Resort

The other major factor that was responsible for the development, population increase and in the shaping of the city between the time interval of 1760 to 1840 is the advent of the industrial revolution. There had been a voluptuous increase in the sizes of the various cities of the country during the time span of 61 years between the years 1771-1831. A greater part of the population of the rural area had moved to the various cities due to the fact that the enclosure and the other developments in the technical fields had helped in the reduction of the human labor that was needed for toiling in the farmlands. The cities of the country, however were not prepared for the hike in the concerned population within a very small part of time. The need for the cheaper households within the cities were observed to have been in demand in order to deal with growing revolutions. The existing building regulations, though few in number, were ignored as the masons exercised their freewill over the building of the various structures that were build for the residential purposes. The huge amount of profits earned by the concerned masons became a huge motivating factor for the labor classes. This helped in the construction of the houses in a very rapid manner which turned out to be a very cost-effective manner of doing the same. The back-to-back terrace housing ideas found their outbreak during the Industrial Revolution.

The huge amount of the rapid changes in the demography and the socio-economic transitions in the cities of Binningham, Liverpool, London, Manchester had led the middle-class professionals and the aristocrats of the regions were observed to have been looking for places that were comparatively clean, new and quiet. The increase in the demand for such places helped in the promotion of Bath as the most sought-after place by the concerned residents along with the unique style and architectural design and the developments like the monuments.

Figure 4: The Royal Cresent, Bath, 18th century

Source: (Neale 2014)

The concepts and theories that were put to use in the architectural building of the city might be defined as “utilitarianism” in philosophical words, functionally as performance and as “profit driven” from the motive point of view. The theory of utilitarianism states that the ultimate aim should pertain to the extraction of the maximum utility of the concerned investment. The builders had been following the similar theories while building the monuments that were aesthetically designed yet did not incur high construction costs.

The Impact of the Industrial Revolution on the City of Bath

The architectural splendor of the city is intimately linked with John Wood, the developer and architect who was responsible for the establishment of the architectural styles followed by the city. The new building that were designed by the architect were considered to be greatest attractions of the city. The architect had always wanted to help the concerned city to restore the Roman magnificence of the past and had dreamt of installing the architectural features that were rooted in the classical civilizations that existed in Rome and Greece. The planning of the eminent architect had depicted the conditions wherein the streets and the City Square would be overlooked and surrounded by an imposing palace-like or imperial façade which would hide the individual terrace houses that lay behind.

Figure 5: 1818 plan of the City of Bath

Source: (Neale 2014)

Richard Nash was responsible for the introduction of a huge number of changes within the concerned city. The architect had introduced cleaner areas, guest houses, promenades, resorts, roads and various other architectural features that were very beautiful. However, the current beautiful architectural aspects within the country might be credited to John Wood. John Wood had implemented the classical style of architecture that was very beautiful to view as well as experience. The build of the houses reflected the ancient style of the classical architecture that was followed in the countries of Greece and Rome. The British style of architecture was greatly influenced by the same and the architectural styles that followed were termed as the “Palladian” architecture.

The city witnessed a huge difference between the architects and the individual builders. The designs provided by the architects were generally followed by the concerned builders who build the individual buildings on the designs that were put forth by the architects. This helped them in bringing about a uniformity in the display of the concerned city.

The primary phase involved the inspection and the survey of the plots and the separation of the same for the purpose of building the various structures. The people who had been sponsoring the event had the major motive of selling off the properties and moving out with the handsome amount of money. The high expenses in the procurement of the building materials had led to the concerned builders to implement the cheaper and the minimally required amount for the building purposes. They demonstrated the use of the limestone that was readily available in the quarries. The stones were transferred from one location to the other with the help of the wooden rails from the quarries to the construction sites where they were carried up and down with the help of small cranes.

The city also witnessed two types of masons who helped in the construction work. The fist category of the masons helped in the shaping and the structuring of the stones that arrived from the quarries while the other group was responsible for the actual activity of the construction. The carpenters, masons, plumbers and the tilers contributed to the construction of the roofs of the buildings in a very clever yet traditional manner.

The building stage were divided into various stages that involved various trades like the masons, carpenters, tilers, glaziers, smiths, plumbers, pavers jointers, turners, carvers, plasterers and painters. The tradesmen were characterized by the tools that they used; while some of these tools were traditionally used, some of them needed to be designed exclusively in order to put forth the architectural taste and style of the concerned era.

The usage of the pattern books or the style books helped in the enhancement of the uniformity and the style of the city. These designs were drawn with such aesthetic touches featuring double staircases, elegant entry ways and two or three floors with spacious galleries salons and dressing rooms.

Figure 5: Georgian Architecture Style of Front Doors

Source: (Neale 2014)

The history of the suburb of Glebe started with the settlement of the Cadigal clan that resided in Sydney Cove and extended to the South of the Port Jackson. However, in modern Glebe the earliest residents of the Cadigal clan do not exist any further.  In recent times, the population of Glebe is linked with each other in a historical context and they have a distinctive character (CUI and ZHOU  2013). The first settlement of the Sydney Cove happened in 1788 when the first survey by Governor Phillip took place in the year 1790, and the grant of 400 acres of land to the Church of England was made at that point of time. The Grant was made in the person of Reverend Richard Johnson.

The history of Glebe did not have the characteristic features of forced settlement or any kind of armed conflict recorded in the accounts of the contemporary period. The Land of the Church ·were mainly used for missionary's purposes and the main motive was to preach the glories of the Christian religion through these land bases.

Figure 6: Glebe in 1867

Source: (Glebesociety.org.au 2018)

The smaller plots of land were leased for the cultivational purposes of vegetables and cereals. However most of the land reserved for the church remained unoccupied till 1828 when the Church made 27 subdivisions in Glebe and auctioned them. The middle-class bidders opted for the larger and elevated allotments of Glebe point since these had better drainage options a nd views. The commercialization was congested near the Blackwattle Swamp, wherein the plots were smaller and were low-lying. The residential properties that were constructed near these areas were very cheap.

The shopkeepers of the area had been observed to have undergone changes since the 1880s. There were generally groups of shops that were found on the connector side streets or on the main roads of the area. The merchants who dealt in the daily and the food items relied on the small clientele that was concentrated fairly heavily in the area while those dealing in the repair of the musical instruments, photographers and the costumers depended on the occasional huge clientele and were generally observed on the Glebe Road.

According to the Australian Council of National Trusts, Glebe is probably the townscape that has the maximum amount of the Victorian terraces and cottages that are found in Australia. The National Trust has put forth the declaration that the Glebe to be one of the major components of historic heritage and national architectural (Glebesociety.org.au 2018).

Figure 7:  Glebe Plan (1886 – 88)

Source: (Glebesociety.org.au 2018)

The building process of Glebe and populating its streets covered between the years 1841 and 1915 and the most severe phase taking between twenty years since 1871. The parts of Glebe that are close to the main routes into the city, especially Parramatta Road, were one of the first to experience the intensive residential development. The terrace was the dominant form of built in Glebe from about the year 1870, providing enough properties in order to accommodate the population that hasbeen growing rapidly in the self-contained private housing space that served to be an economy of the outlay on building and land materials.

Figure 8: Buildings of Glebe (1860 – 80)

Source: (Glebesociety.org.au 2018)


During the depression and countless economic crisis of the early 1900s the place lost its appeal and exclusive nature. However, such crisis could not influence the nature of the city and its community to hold and retain their own cultural feature. Many of those houses and buildings were demolished in the middle of the 20th century to be replaced by contemporary and more regulated developments. There was a serious issue of sanitation and cleanliness in the city when Glebe was gradually becoming overcrowded. This was because it was yet not developed enough to hold such a large number of people. There was a phase after this when public house construction was taken up to support this large number of people, however these new, buildings were not architectura11y attractive neither had aesthetic features in their construction pattern.

Figure 9: Glebe Subdivided Sites Ad.1904 Figure 10: Francis Street, Glebe in I900

Source: (Glebesociety.org.au 2018) Source: (Glebesociety.org.au 2018)

By 1915 Glebe's The diversity of the domestic architecture colonial Federation, Georgian, Italianate, Regency, Victorian Gothic styles - broadly corresponded with the periods in which the suburb was build. Glebe early planning can be categorized and related to the theory of "blueprint planning" in which local flavor of architecture was combined with the British philosophy. The planning in the later stage after the Church sold the land was done purely on a commercial basis. After the reconstruction of the city happened new structures were built and the motive was to sell as many properties as possible to the middle class who were fleeing polluted Sydney and uncontrolled urban growth.

Figure 11: Glebe Point Road 1935

Source: (Glebesociety.org.au 2018)

From Urban Planning lens, Glebe started as a seemingly shapeless tract of the suburban Sydney that does not have a legible manner. Later, its form was grown and fabricated with interlocking narrow streets, the back lanes, a human range of the house sizes and a diversity of the architectural styles. Finally, Glebe similar to the other places, possesses three significant features - a boundary, the name of the place and its uniqueness. Some localities have lost what made them distinctive places but Glebe has retained a strong sense of place where its essence is still preserved.

The garden city refers to a town that had been designed with a huge amount of greenery and open space present within the territories of the city. The Glebe was not observed to have a garden city. The Glebe lacked the presence of the huge amount of the space that was needed for the planning of the garden city within the territories of the suburbs. The surrounding areas that had the planning of the garden cities had allowed the growth of the vegetation in a better manner and had not allowed the encroachment of the human population. The Glebe has a fairly dense population that was dependent on the industries rather than on the nature thereby leaving no scope for the garden city style of urban planning.

References

CUI, D. and ZHOU, J.G., 2013.. The Issue of Interlocal Inflation in Dalian City Due to the Factor of Population and Glebe. Value Engineering, 3, p.150.

Edmunds, W.M. Darling, W.G., Purtschert, R. and Alvarado, J. A.C., 2014. Noble gas, CFC and other geochemical evidence for the age and origin of the Bath thermal waters, UK. Applied geochemistry 40, pp.155-163.

Glebesociety.org.au 2018. The Glebe Society. [online] The Glebe Society. Available at: https://www.glebesociety.org.au/ [Accessed 20 May 2018].

Haraldsson I.G. 2014. Geothermal baths swimming pools and spas: Examples from Ecuador and Iceland.

Laing J., Voigt C. and Frost W., 2013. 14 Fantasy, authenticity and the spa tourism experience. Wellness Tourism: A Destination Perspective, 33, p.220.

Neale, R.S., 2014. Bath: ideology and Utopia 1700-1760. In The Eighteenth-Century Town (pp. 231-250). Routledge.

Rauscher, R.C. and Momtaz, S., 2015. Glebe—Maintaining and Upgrading Traditional Neighbourhoods. In Sustainable Neighbourhoods in Australia (pp. 161-172). Springer, Cham.

Rogers, G.M., 2014. The Sacred Identity of Ephesos (Routledge Revivals): Foundation Myths of a Roman City. Routledge.

Historylearningsite.co.uk 2018. Life in industrial Towns. [online. Available at https:// www.historylearningsite.co.uk/britain-1700-to-1900/industrial-revolution/life-in­industrial-towns/ [Accessed 20 May. 2018].

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