Mammoth 105 mile trek completed in aid of new World Heritage Centre

It’s been a step back in time for B&NES Council’s Head of Heritage Services, Stephen Bird, after completing a mammoth 105 mile trek to raise funds for a new World Heritage Centre in Bath.

Stephen set off on Monday 10th December from the Roman Baths in Stall Street on his solo trek, which took him to the World Heritage sites of Stonehenge and Avebury before returning to Bath on Friday, 14th December.

Stephen, who undertook the walk in his own time, is heavily involved in the work to create a multi-million pound World Heritage Centre and Learning Centre at the Roman Baths.

The project has ‘permission to start’ from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and planning is well under way, but the project involves match funding and Stephen wanted to personally contribute.

As he arrived back in Bath, Stephen said: “Fortunately the weather was relatively kind to me. I took a route of my own devising along public roads, lanes, farm tracks, bridleways, byways, footpaths and canal towpaths to reach Stonehenge, and then Avebury, before completing the triangle back to Bath.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has sponsored me; so far £2500 has been pledged with donations still coming in. Every penny will go via the Roman Baths Foundation towards the World Heritage Centre.”

The World Heritage Centre, which will be free to visit, will be dedicated to explaining and interpreting the World Heritage site and is part of the wider Archway Project involving the conversion of former Victorian spa buildings in Swallow Street and York Street, next to the Roman Baths.

Visitors will be able to discover more about Bath’s attributes of Outstanding Universal Value: the hot springs, Roman remains, Georgian architecture, Georgian town planning, the social setting of the Georgian spa town and the city’s natural landscape setting.

It will highlight the uniqueness of Bath and equip people to go out and explore Bath’s exceptional historic sites, promoting greater understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the city’s internationally significant heritage.

The Roman Baths Learning Centre will be a fully accessible, state-of-the-art centre where school children will participate in exciting hands-on sessions with Roman artefacts and where projects and activities will be run for members of the local community.

It will be linked to the Roman Baths via an underground tunnel.

There will be an Investigation Zone set among Roman remains, where children will be able to explore and record archaeological materials, and an excavation area where they will be able to unearth replica Roman objects. This space will be used for family events at weekends and during the school holidays.

The project will also open up areas of Roman remains that have never before been open for regular public access, including a rare laconicum (sauna) and an exercise courtyard, revealing fascinating new aspects of the ancient site.

To donate to Stephen Birds sponsored walk, click here, and, if you are a UK taxpayer, you can add Gift Aid too.