Situated in the old Camden Works on Julian Road, a world away from the bustle of Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, the Museum of Bath at Work presents a history of industry and making in and around the city of Bath.
The museum’s collections are diverse and extensive, encompassing the fields of architecture, engineering, manufacturing, printing, packaging and fashion. Objects on display include a full-scale reconstruction of the engineering and drinks factory of J.B. Bowler, as well as the Bath Chair exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851, a car designed and manufactured by the Horstmann Car Company of Bath in 1914 and, until recently, a special exhibition celebrating the sixty-fifth anniversary of Clarks world-famous Desert Boot.
In addition to the diverse array of objects on display, the museum’s archival collections are rich sources of material for understanding Bath’s industrial and manufacturing history. The Museum of Bath at Work holds comprehensive records and ephemera relating to both Stothert & Pitt and Horstmann, two of Bath’s leading nineteenth- and early-twentieth century engineering firms. The museum’s director, Stuart Burroughs, and the volunteers who catalogue and maintain the collection are also rich sources for understanding the complexity of industry and manufacturing alongside the city’s development.
Perhaps the most significant theme that emerges from the museum’s exhibits and archival collections is the focus that Bath’s engineering, industrial and manufacturing firms have historically placed on their civic responsibility to the city and to its people. The Stothert & Pitt and Horstmann collections, in particular, contain numerous photographs and paper ephemera relating to the sports’ teams, recreational clubs, dinners, parties and other events held for their workers, as well as references to the education and training on offer and the firms’ owners and directors sitting on various boards relating to city planning and urban development.
This focus on civic responsibility exhibited by historical engineering firms continues in the present, with engineering companies like BuroHappold and BMT, both in Bath, focused on education and community engagement.
Visit the Museum of Bath at Work (http://www.bath-at-work.org.uk), open weekends only until 1st April 2016.