Sydney Gardens Project 
August 2020
Poppies sown in the early summer are up around the Peace Oak in Sydney Gardens. The Peace Oak is 101 years old this July! Last year we held a special event to mark the centenary of the this very special tree - download the digital PDF about the Peace Oak here.
Dear Friends,

We very much hope this e-news update finds you well and safe.  This newsletter brings you important updates about the build and restoration programme, notices about tree felling and bat roost works. Plus there's a new Mindfulness audio guide designed especially for self-led sessions in Sydney Gardens - a great way to experience and be present in green space.

Our build programme will be mobilising in August.
Some areas of the park will be closed and fenced off:
  • the lower 3 tennis courts
  • the children's play area
  • the former bowls lawn 
These areas will be closed in early August in order to set up the construction compound and working area. It will remain like this for about one year.  The timing is not ideal for the summer holidays, but we have to begin on site as soon as possible.

Please read on for all the updates and news.  

Best wishes,
Sue Palmer, Community Ranger
Mali Kedward, Horticultural Participation Officer
Gemma Burgham, Communications & Participation Intern
Matt Watson, Horticultural Apprentice
Keith Rowe, Project Manager

Sydney Gardens Project Team, Parks Service, B&NES Council
Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Follow us on Facebook @SydneyGardensBath
Notice of Tree & Vegetation Work in the park
THIS Thursday 30th & Friday 31st July
We need to prepare the area near the Bathwick Street entrance for the start of the Construction Phase. One cherry tree right next to the lower tennis courts will be removed and the shrubs cleared to make an access route for construction vehicles.

Over the past couple of months, a few other trees have been felled in the park in order to allow for future changes to the park - for example, opening up the currently closed off depot area as a new public garden area.

On completion, the Beckford Road side of the park will have:
• a large number of trees and shrubs planted alongside the north-west boundary and throughout the play area;
• a large play area for all ages
• two new full size tennis courts (replacing the current three smaller ones)
Sydney Gardens Project - Build & Restoration Update
Capital Works

We have had to meet the challenges of bringing the Sydney Gardens scheme within the approved budget and mobilising contractors on site to start the restoration and build programme. 

We have had to take a great deal of cost out of the scheme, which is funded by a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant and B&NES Council.
While having to keep to an approved budget prepared in 2016, we undertook various rounds of design improvements and achieved a scheme that worked very well, passed planning and delivered a high level of specification. However, the tenders we received indicated that to implement the scheme in full, we’d need £3.5m, whereas our capital works approved budget is £2.5m.

Working with our cost consultants and preferred contractors we looked at where we could make significant savings. The project team also provided a ‘shopping list’ (consultants and officers) of suggested cuts while keeping as closely as possible to the overall benefits and outcomes of the scheme. Following these negotiations we have made significant savings and are able to proceed with contracting and beginning our build and restoration programme.

Following our tender assessment process, our appointed site contractors are:
  •  Edgar Builders for the Main Works Contract (Community Pavilion/ Bothy/ tennis courts/ play area/ landscape), and we are expecting Parson Landscapes as a subcontractor doing the landscape. We will first instruct Edgars on the building work so that they can get on site and will follow with a second instruction on landscape.
  • Sally Strachey Historic Conservation to the Conservation Works Contract (Loggia/ Temple of Minerva/ Ruinette/ Ice Cream Kiosk), with IronArt Bath as a subcontractor doing the Edwardian WCs and railings.

So far, the main design changes are:
  • Café omitted and the area redesigned to take pop-up refreshment opportunities which can be licenced for either seasonal or longer periods
  • The Bothy – the costs of bringing in water, drainage and bringing in light was very expensive for a building built as an electric substation, and out of balance with the intended purpose. We will now undertake conservation and general building repairs to make it dry and then insulate and repaint inside – it will continue as a lock up and storage area for the gardeners and volunteers. Participatory activities planned for the Bothy will be redesigned for delivery elsewhere in the scheme.
  • Southern side of the Gardens will no longer have the boundary wall and iron railings re-instated. This was not in the original bid and some of our community feedback indicated that it was not fully supported.
  • Labyrinth – this will no longer be a permanent feature as proposed in the planning proposal as it was far too costly to deliver through contractors. We will look to recreate it as mown paths working with volunteers, as we did 2 years ago on the former Bowls Lawn.
  • The former allotments will only have a direct path through it from the new entrance off the Warminster Rd. The trim trail will not be implemented and the orchard planting postponed. We had unresolved issues with the repair of the railings above the railway and concerns from the Parks maintenance team about the ability to keep the area cut.
  • Other costs savings achieved through looking again at some of the higher quality specifications especially the amount of pennant stone paving / steps.
  • We have also been looking at the implementation of the soft planting and finding more cost effective furniture – further work on taking cost out of this element of the scheme is underway.
Bat roost in the Temple of Minerva - conservation works
A week ago, The Temple of Minerva was closed while we undertook Natural England licensed bat conservation works. 

There is a bat roost in the roof and we have to make sure the repairs needed to the listed Temple of Minerva don't disturb their patterns and lives.  We will be undertaking works to create a redesigned roost entrance making it more attractive and protective for the bats.

The Temple of Minerva will also host our interpretation about the history and heritage of Sydney Gardens, with beautifully designed, striking visuals.
Covid-19 and Sydney Gardens
Please follow the most recent government guidance in relation to using the park and public green space. Click here for updates from Bath & NE Somerset Council about Covid-19.

Our on site activities and events continue to be postponed due to government guidance around social distancing. We are planning some of our activities, volunteering and training to take place online and in different formats over the coming months. 

The project team has been busy working through lockdown - mainly from home - to progress the on-site build and restoration programme. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our scheduled programme moving it forward by around 6-8 months. We anticipate that it will continue to affect us.
Lost rabbits!
These little rabbits have lost their owners!!

We found them in Sydney Gardens.

Send us a message if they are yours and we will reunite you!
Mindfulness - a free audio guide
for a self-led session in Sydney Gardens

Go on a journey through Sydney Gardens in Bath, learning about and practicing Mindfulness, using a 40 minute audio guide made by Huw Griffiths of Mindfulness Bath.

You can listen online via your phone using headphones or download the track for offline listening (41Mbs, Mp3). 

As part of the Sydney Gardens Project, Huw has led 'Mindfulness in the Park' walks and talks over the past couple of years which have been very popular. This year, Huw has created a Mindfulness audio guide so that anyone can go on a self-led session.  All the details are in the link below. 

Let us know how you get on? We welcome your feedback. We will be creating a Mindfulness audio guide for the Autumn season too.

Listen to the Sydney Gardens Mindfulness audio guide on Soundcloud
Volunteer with us
Due to the pandemic, our volunteer and training programme has been very disrupted. We are now finding ways to continue - slowly and carefully - and we are happy to talk with you about opportunities that we have including oral and written history collection and publication, podcasting, photography, social media and developing interpretation.

If you are interested in volunteering then get in touch - we'd be happy to hear from you.  See further down our e-news for information about volunteer gardening.
Hummus & Dippers cart in the park
Hummus + Dips food stall Skinny Dippers are usually in Sydney Gardens or Henrietta Park in the daytime. And we’re happy to have them in the park with their ingenious bike driven stall which is stationed near the Temple of Minerva in Sydney Gardens.

Their snacks are really tasty. And they have some soft drinks, cakes and other snacks. 
Sydney Gardening Update

As some of you know, Mali Kedward, the Sydney Gardens Horticultural Participation Officer along with Matt Watson, our Horticultural Apprentice, had grown a dedicated and enthusiastic weekday volunteer gardening group, that also complimented the Friends monthly volunteer session.  Covid-19 has meant our entire season of training and volunteering, that we had just launched in early March, had to be cancelled.

So Mali and Matt have been undertaking some projects in the park, including working on the Rockery by the London Plane tree trunk. They are experimenting with a No Dig solution to weed suppression using cardboard and barrow loads of mulch.  And they have planted some sunflowers which have just come out and the plan is to plant some pumpkins to run over the border, until we work out exactly what plants will work here. The new view through to the Peace Oak is great!
In July, Mali and Matt led a couple of trial volunteer gardening sessions with two of our regular volunteers to test out Covid-safety.  

As we progress with making sure that we can run any activities or training safely in the park, we will keep you up to date with opportunities through this e-news.  Or you can check our social media feeds.
The Friends of Sydney Gardens
The Friends of Sydney Gardens is a community organisation formed in 2013 to promote awareness of the gardens, gather community feedback on improvements and developments and to foster the gardens' care and maintenance.

The Friends are currently researching and planning a Tree Trail around Sydney Gardens that celebrates the park's historic and Champion Trees, with a tree labelling project too. If you are interested in helping with this, please contact FoSG secretary Gill Gazzard.

The Friends are always looking for more park users to help with weekend litter picks, so if you want to help your local green space then contact Gill Gazzard at the Friends. Volunteers Ben and Olli who helped back in February, created special anti-litter posters, and they've just been put up in the park.

Please join the Friends to support Sydney Gardens now and in the future.
Sydney Gardens National Lottery Heritage Funded Project
Sydney Gardens is one of Britain’s best remaining Georgian Pleasure Gardens.
Find out more about Sydney Gardens in the past.

The National Lottery Heritage Funding will be used to restore historic buildings, invest in landscape works and garden restoration, and create new play areas for all ages.
Find out more about Sydney Gardens

Alongside the works, a programme of events and activities is being run: learning, arts, nature, horticulture, wildlife, play, sport, archaeology and history. The project will celebrate the fascinating history of the Gardens, with its Cosmorama, Labyrinth, Merlins Swing, Concerts, Public Breakfasts, Galas and Illuminations.

What's happening:

Our project started the 'Delivery Phase' on 1st February 2019:
2019: Detailed technical design, programming of works, with public events, activities, training and volunteering.
2020: Delivery of restoration, building works and landscaping, volunteering and training programme, and designing interpretation
2021: Continued delivery of the restoration and build with accompanying volunteer and training programme, activities and partnership events
2022: Completion of the project

Read about our National Lottery Heritage Funding

Sydney Gardens, Bath
Sydney Gardens, Bath
Sue Palmer, Sydney Gardens Community Ranger
Sue Palmer, Sydney Gardens Community Ranger
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Sydney Gardens Parks for People Project · Parks and Green Spaces · Lewis House, Manvers Street · Bath, Bath and North East Somerset BA1 1JG · United Kingdom

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