The King William Public House, 36 Thomas Street, Walcot, Bath
36 Thomas Street, formerly the King William Public House, is a Grade II early 19th century public house situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It sits at the bottom of the junction of the steeply sloped Thomas Street and London Road, and consequently serves as a delineation between the mixed commercial/retail and residential character of London Road, and the residential terraces running immediately north towards Camden Road. It additionally forms part of the compounded streetscape setting of the Grade II terraces of Thomas Street. Due to its junction position, it has additional value with a dual commercial frontage at ground floor level; the bowed multi-pane frontage on Thomas Street is suggested to be original, with the London Road frontage being a later 19th century addition. The public house opened as the King William Inn as early as 1846 (Bath Historical Directories), but earlier reference is made to the William IV Public House in 1833 which may apply to the same premises. It consequently has noted evidential and social significance as a long-standing historic pub.
The commercial shopfront character and appearance of the core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site is characterised by its retained vernacular appearance, use of traditional materials and construction methods, and bespoke design approach. Consequently, shop/commercial frontages are expected to adhere to planning guidance regarding the appropriate use of materials, colours, and a lack of illuminated signage, in keeping with the wider historic character of the city conservation area and World Heritage Site.
BPT acknowledges that it is a shame to see the closure of a historic pub, but we strongly welcome opportunities for the continued commercial use of the premises and resulting sustained social interest within the streetscape and wider conservation area. Could there be an opportunity to integrate the history of the pub premises into the new occupier name and/or branding?
We maintain that we are not supportive of unauthorised works to listed buildings, where the appropriate listed building consent has not been obtained in advance.
The proposed repainting of the timber frontage in an anthracite grey with a matte finish is acceptable, although a lighter shade of grey may be more appropriate as a visually softer alternative. However, we consider that the repainting of the doors in yellow creates an unwelcome contrast across the frontage, and it is instead recommended to repaint the frontage in one colour to ensure a more coherent, calmer appearance. It is presumed that the lettering to the fascia will be hand-painted, which is considered to appropriately reflect the traditional shopfront character of the conservation area.
It is unclear as to why the wall-mounted board at first floor level would be painted in a jet black colour. BPT is typically resistant to the use of strident colours, such as very dark blacks and bright whites, which would visually clash with the softer Bath stone palette of the streetscape. We strongly recommend that this sign is finished in an anthracite grey to match the timber frontage below, which would sit more comfortably within the streetscape. We again presume that this board would be hand-lettered to match the fascia below.
We have some concerns with the proposed hanging sign, although commend the retention of the bespoke sign bracket. The sign appears to be a metal/aluminium board, which is an inappropriate addition to the conservation area. Hanging signs should be timber with a hand-painted finish to sustain Bath’s traditional signage character and appearance. We further find the proposed sign design to be overly dense and cluttered, and suggest a simpler, more minimal design would be a more acceptable addition. This could draw from the ‘Town + House’ lettering of the fascia, for example.
The addition of a branded flag would overclutter the frontage, and draw the commercial focus of the building up to the first floor and unbalance the functional hierarchy of a listed building. We emphasise that signage should remain focused along the ground floor where a distinction between the commercial ground floor, and typically more residential upper floors, has already been architecturally made.
The overall result is of a busy and cluttered frontage, with detriment to the appearance of a listed building. We strongly encourage consideration of a cleaner, more streamlined signage approach to ensure a coherent appearance sensitive to its historic setting.