Recently discovered relics from Bath High’s much-loved Hope House site have brought memories flooding back for alumnae.
Friday 13th May brought drama to the northern slopes of Bath, as construction workers currently developing Bath High School’s former site on Lansdown Road unearthed a 500lb unexploded World War II bomb. Apart from prompting a series of inconveniences for local residents, including evacuations and extensive road closures, this unexpected discovery unearthed alongside it all sorts of memories from alumnae and current students of happy times playing in its vicinity, in blissful unawareness of the living piece of history beneath them!
In particular, there was much fond reminiscing about the ‘bomb crater’ that had already been part of the school landscape for many years. Fondly-held tales of mischief, sunbathing, wild-flower gazing and perilous rounders-ball extractions from this off-limits nook came bubbling to the surface through social media, and even on national radio.
Following tireless efforts by 731 EOD Sqdn RLC, the bomb was rendered safe, just in time for an even more telling discovery to be made on the site a few weeks later.
After a tip-off from former teachers, an eagle-eyed demolition contractor successfully extracted a long-hidden time capsule from a cavity wall of the Gloucester Hall building. The opening of the hall in 1977, along with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, was marked by secreting a small time capsule in the fabric of the new building.
Linking these two intriguing glimpses of bygone times, the BBC invited representatives of the school, past and present, to open the capsule - actually a tin about the size of a VHS video cassette – live on regional news.
Hazarding a few guesses as to its contents, Lynda Bevan, Registrar, Jane Millington a Bath High Alumna and Tilly Kennard from Year 3 all took to the studio sofa with Points West presenters Alex Lovell and David Garmston for the moment of truth…which fortunately did not disappoint! The girls of 1977 had chosen a scrap of fabric from their summer uniform and a school tie; a model Mini – ‘the form of transport we use every day’; a map of the school site and a commemorative Silver Jubilee coin amongst other things to give future generations a snapshot of their school life in the 1970s.
Media interest in this story once again sparked a flurry of nostalgia from Bath High Alumnae, some of whom remembered the capsule, but had little recollection of what was in it. Lucy Black (BHS 1968-82) commented ‘How exciting! What did we put in?’; whilst Jessica Saunders, (BHS 1964-78) identified the dilemma we had all faced on discovering it: ‘I find it rather moving. They probably did expect it to be hidden for longer. But 40 years isn’t bad!’.
Whilst it was agreed that the 1970s was certainly historical enough for our post-millennial girls, ideas to create a new capsule to include some of the 1970s content are under discussion as the school plans its next exciting build – a new sports development.