Bath Voice Feature: The crashes and bangs of Rob Coles’ childhood as he recalls industrial noises from the large riverside works of Stothert and Pitt

By Rob Coles: One of the schools I attended was in Green Park in the terrace that escaped the blitz.  Walking from the Bear Flat down Cedar Walk my dream was for a new bridge over the River Avon to save me having to double back after reaching the Lower Bristol Road.  With the new French designed foot and cycle bridge my dream has come true, seventy years too late for me,   A bridge would also have been welcomed by some of the hundreds of employees who stormed out of the Stothert’s factory on foot and bike onto the Lower Bristol Road at home time, so much a feature of industrial Bath.

1860s crane back home at the riverside Newark Works

My school day was punctuated by crashes, bangs and other industrial noises from the large riverside works of Stothert and Pitt.   

New French designed foot and cycle bridge

Bath was back then a very different place Stothert’s and other industries, Bayers, Horstmans, Pitmans, LMS etc were household names which  to a schoolboy were more of a symbol of Bath than the Crescents etc.  To see cranes at docksides bearing the plaque in large letters Stothert and Pitt Bath England gave a sense of pride.    Stothert sadly closed in the 1980’s, the Newark Works foundry building remain and now house small businesses and offices, even a coffee shop.   

Site from the new French designed foot and cycle bridge

As a tribute and memorial to the thousands who worked for Stothert and created the reputation  of “Crane Makers to the world” a crane has been returned to its place of birth on the banks of the Avon The site is close to the original Stothert’s wharf and adjacent to the new  French designed foot and cycle bridge

Restorers Peter Dunn and Arthur Feltham with Chair of Bath and North East Somerset Council Cllr Sarah Moore and Nina Pollard whose husband David initially saved the crane from scrap 

The rail mounted crane dating from 1860’s is thought to be the oldest  existing built by the Company, its working life was spent with the stone undertaking at Box and Corsham.   

Leader of the restoration team Peter Dunn at the handing over to the Bath and North East Somerset Council ceremony

The crane  was initially saved from scrap by Historian David Pollard.   After years in his and other gardens restoration was commenced in 2019 by a team led by two ex Stothert and Pitt apprentices, Peter Dunn and Arthur Feltham.  On completion of the restoration the crane was formally handed over by Nina  Pollard to Bath and North East Somerset Council  for permanent display at the Newark Works at the very place where the crane was first built.

The Right Worshipful Mayor of Bath Councillor Dine Romero accepting the crane for the city from Nina Pollard

The ceremony was led by the Director of the Museum of Bath at Work, Stuart Burrows.   

Restorers and ex Stothert and Pitts Aprentices Peter Dunn and Arthur Feltham who led the restoration team

Among those who gave financial and other support were The Bath Stone Quarry Museum Trust, The Association for Industrial Archaeology, The Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society, Hawker Joinery, The Cotswold National Landscape and the Museum of Bath at Work.

Site of the Stothert’s Wharf adjacent to the crane

Note: Rob Coles is a long standing resident of the city and we are grateful for his recollections of Bath gone by which we can share with the thousands of residents who read the Bath Voice, both online and in the paper publication out on the first of the month.

Bath Voice Monthly Newspaper is distributed free to thousands of homes and some supermarkets – distributed from the first of the month. Harry Mottram is the News Editor

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