Preservation and Change in a World Heritage Site: Architectural Drawings of Bath, 1750-2000

In October 2016 Bath Record Office was successful in acquiring a grant of over £33,000 from the National Cataloguing Grant Scheme to catalogue four important series of architectural records:

  • The architectural drawings of properties owned by Bath City Council, 1750-1988
  • Records of David Brain Partnership, Architects, of Bath, and predecessors, 1990s
  • The architectural drawings and correspondence of F W Beresford-Smith, Architect, of Bath, and predecessor architectural practices, c. 1850-1985 
  • Planning applications submitted to Bath City Council/Bath & North East Somerset Council, 1934-2000

These collections form an unparalleled record of the development of Bath’s built environment over the last 250 years and the project aimed to make these collections available to all, whilst enhancing our understanding of the history of Bath, and in particular its built environment. Before this project, no information about these collections was available online, with only poor quality, difficult to use, lists and spreadsheets available to consult at the Record Office. The need to catalogue these records had long been recognised but was not possible within the Record Office’s existing resources.

Work officially started on the 1st May 2017 and will be completed in October 2018. Two Project Archivists were employed, one to catalogue the collections and the other to recruit and manage the volunteers.

A volunteer team was essential to the project’s success and a team of 20 was recruited to check and edit the spreadsheet information we held about the planning applications submitted to Bath City Council/B&NES. Their commitment to the project was phenomenal, with the team collectively giving over 2,400 hours of their time. It was originally estimated that there would be 43,894 files to physically check, but the volunteers ended up adding an additional 3,655 files to the spreadsheets, meaning they actually checked 47,549 files in total, all within 13 months. They also managed to list the contents of 90 microfilms which contained the plans of over 17,000 individual planning applications. Their help has been invaluable and has meant that we now have an accurate list of the planning applications we hold in the Record Office.

Overall, this project has enabled the Record Office to provide, for the first time, detailed catalogues online for those interested in researching the history of a property.