The sealing of the Old Bristol North Baths Time Capsule

Pupils at Ashley Down Infant School with the time capsule

Yesterday started well with an invite to take part in the Ashley Down Infants school assembly. It was a special day as local historian David Cemlyn was visiting the school to show the children the fantastic old trunk he had sourced to be used as a vessel for the Old Bristol North Baths Time Capsule. The infants have had a great time learning about the history of the historic building on the Gloucester Road and all about the importance of time capsules.

At the end of the assembly many of the children came up to put things into the trunk, items included school photographs, newspapers, toys and a can of beans! Five of the children were selected to go along to the sealing of the capsule yesterday evening. They looked brilliant in their mini high vis vests and hard hats that Chatsworth Homes kindly allowed them to keep as a souvenir.

The Old Bristol North Baths site is currently be redeveloped by Chatsworth Homes into the Bishopston Medical Centre that will be home to the Spence and Nevil Road Practices as well as Keith James Physiotherapy Clinic. Part of the pool is in the process of being adapted into a hydrotherapy pool. Next door to the site will be the new Bishopston Library with flats above it and a car park beneath.

Chatsworth homes have been keen to be involved with the vibrant Bishopston community, and as well as inviting locals to contribute to the time capsule they funded nearby educational centres of all ages to create artistic boards that have been mounted onto the hoarding around the building site. The artistic displays have been well received and are still on display on the Gloucester Road.

The sealing of the time capsule was an opportunity for local councillors, press, members of Chatsworth Homes, the Spence and Nevil Road surgeries, Keith James, Library services, the children from Ashley Down Infants and special guest The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol Councillor Faruk Choudhury to come together and mark the special occasion.

The evening was opened by historian David Cemlyn telling us a bit about the interesting history of the baths. Many local people fought passionately to keep the swimming baths open but after several years standing empty the feeling was overwhelmingly positive that this beautiful old building is now being restored and redeveloped to be put to good use by the surrounding community. David told us the Old Bristol North Baths site had been designed to look after the health of the general public and on completion of the new medical centre it would be doing just that again.

Kevin Batt went on to say what a privilege it is to be working on such a fantastic grade two listed building and restoring the building back to health.

Before the trunk was sealed one of the children read out a moving history of the life of the trunk itself that had been sent through by the previous owner. We learnt how the trunk had been owned with affection for over 90 years by his mother, it had travelled with the Navy and lived through a close by bomb attack during the war. The gentlemen who wrote the account of the trunk was delighted that the object was now embarking on a new important role as being the vessel for this time capsule.

The Right Honourable Lord Mayor expressed his pleasure to be involved with this important event and spoke of Bristol being a historic city. He was pleased that this great old building was no longer standing empty and falling into disrepair but has a new life ahead and a future in the community.

At the end of the speeches the trunk containing the history of the building, details of the campaign that tried to save it, memories of local people that used the facility, a swimming cap, plans of the building development that is now taking place, a 1940’s blood pressure monitor, starter block from the pool, a mobile phone, copies of Bishopston Matters detailing the progress of the current build and lots more was sealed. The capsule was then lifted through a small hole in the wall and into the old foot bath where it will stay for the next 100 years! A printed board stating ‘Time Capsule, 08/07/13 to celebrate the regeneration of the Bristol North Baths into the Bishopston Community Health Centre’ was secured over the hole for all to see.

It has been a pleasure to be involved with this project with local historian David Cemlyn, a big thank you goes to him and Kevin Batt of Chatsworth homes for inviting the community to take part in creating history for the future!

Bishopston Matters is pleased to regularly visit this development and bring updates of the build to readers, please check out the latest issue for more information.

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