Ilkeston Town Walk - Stage 33 - Bath
Street's Changing Face
w/e 17 April 2005
All this week's
pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
There have been many changes to the look of Bath Street over
the years but one of the most noticeable during the last decade
has been the formation of the pedestrian zone between the end
of Chapel Street and the Market Place. The perceived benefit of the zone was
the revitalisation of the shopping street but the results have
not been as successful as hoped and an article on the front page
of the local newspaper this week is calling for a review. It
calls for the introduction of a transport system on Bath Street
but shoppers would probably resist going back to the days when
heavy vehicles chugged up the hill belching choking diesel fumes
over them. Now the reintroduction of the popular "Roadtrain"
that operated over Christmas 2000 would be a different proposition
altogether. The rather uninspiring architecture of the building
housing the frozen food business on the left of this picture
replaced a public house on the corner of Chapel Street called
the "Prince Of Wales".
change to the look of Bath Street can immediately be seen diagonally
across from Chapel Street. The photo to the left was sent to
me by Shirley from Indiana, my wife's second cousin. Shirley
has visited the UK several times tracing the family roots and
this photo was taken on one of her visits to Ilkeston in 1971.
Not only does it show Bath Street in pre-pedestrianisation days
but is also interesting in that it shows the old Bath Street
Methodist Church. The church was demolished along with the Central
Methodist Church which stood only a few yards further up Bath
Street and the two congregations merged to become St Andrew's
Methodist Church in the new building seen above.
The new church and schoolrooms straddle the corner between Bath
Street and Wilmot Street , the main entrance to the church now
being off the latter.
Inside St Andrew's, the view today is a complete contrast to
the traditional Wesleyan chapel interiors of the two buildings
it replaced. This cutting from "The Pioneer" of
March 11th 1966 shows the balcony, raised pulpit and organ so
familiar in Methodist chapels everywhere and was taken when the
BBC recorded "Sunday Half Hour" from the Bath Street
Methodist Church. Choirs from local churches united for the recording
and the total congregation numbered about 400. The opening hymn
"Now I have found the ground wherein" by Johann Andreas
Rothe, translated by John Wesley, was sung to a tune written
by W. Matthews who was born in Ilkeston in 1759. Although his
music appears in the Methodist Hymn Book, little more is known
about Mr Matthews except he was a stockiner by trade and later
moved to Nottingham.
Note: "The Pioneer" was a local newspaper that
was published in the town for many years.
Returning to Bath Street we can see the functional rather than
decorative appearance of the store now occupied by Wilkinson.
The company moved into these premises, previously occupied by
a grocery supermarket, from the building seen at the top of this
page now occupied by Heron, the frozen food shop. All change
you might say but perhaps not quite so great as when the building
was first erected replacing the impressive frontage of the Central
Methodist Church before its amalgamation with the Bath Street
Methodists further down the hill.
But amid all the changes on Bath Street, some things have stayed
the same. As with buildings we have already seen in the lower
reaches of the street, some of the upper storeys are very ornate
and well worth a second look. Amongst the bleak, stark and functional
style of modern buildings there are still some gems of architectural
decoration to be seen just above the shop fronts. Stone carvings
and terracotta tiles are still a joy to behold and hint at a
glorious past. Now if that's what it takes to revitalise Bath
Street, I'm all for it.