Bath Spa Railway Station, Dorchester Street, City Centre, Bath
Bath Spa Station is a Grade II* mid-19th century railway building by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, forming part of the wider railway complex including the vaulted arches facing onto what is now Brunel Square, situated within the commercial core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The street-facing elevation presents an asymmetric, Jacobethan façade in Bath stone ashlar, with Dutch gables and mullioned windows, with a slightly later projecting wing to the west in a yellow brick and a continuation of Jacobethan detailing in the use of mullioned windows. The train platforms have undergone a series of alterations from their original design, having been progressively widened and lengthened to cater to changes in train design and carriage numbers. The existing canopies were installed as part of the 1897 platform works, whereas Brunel’s original design included a single glazed canopy which over sailed the extent of both platforms and the tracks. The station forms a significant architectural pair with the Grade I Bristol Old Station (later subsumed into Bristol Temple Meads), also by Brunel, and was a formative part of the establishment of the Great Western Railway from 1835.
BPT is supportive of the proposed, much-needed remedial and repair works to the historic canopies to ensure the longer-term health of a listed building. However, considering its Grade II* status, we are surprised by the current condition of the building and the degree of damage present to the cast iron columns and beams as shown in photographs as part of the application. We maintain that listed buildings require regular maintenance and repairs to ensure that smaller issues are not allowed to progressively worsen or result in greater detrimental harm to, or loss of, historic fabric.
We acknowledge that the existing timber fascias and daggerboards are rotten, and are proposed for replacement with GRP alternatives. BPT is typically resistant to the replacement of timber with plastic or polymer-based materials due to the potential impact on the traditional appearance and material integrity of a listed building. We appreciate that the D&A Statement highlights the material benefits of GRP as being longer-lasting and more robust, but we highlight that the proposed aesthetic change has not been appropriately considered or assessed as part of this application. We therefore strongly recommend that further material details or samples are provided as part of this application, rather than being secured via condition, to ensure that the proposed works as a whole suitably respect the special architectural and historic interest of a listed building.
The proposed replacement of guttering with aluminium ‘cast iron effect’ guttering seems appropriate in principle, seeking to replicate a historic aesthetic whilst selecting a less corrosive material type, but again we strongly recommend that material details or samples are provided as part of this application to appropriately inform the proposed finish of the replacement guttering.
Furthermore, we have some concerns regarding the identification of PVC downpipes identified in the proposed details refurbishment drawings. It is unclear as to whether this is in reference to existing rainwater goods already in situ, or proposed replacements for corroded cast iron pipes. Considering that the pipes would run along the extent of the historic trusses and down the columns, these would be of high visibility along the platform and would therefore be visually inappropriate. We query why similar aluminium rainwater goods (either ‘cast iron effect’ or painted cream to match) does not appear to have been considered.