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

Pedestrian Zone

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 benefitRoadtrain 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".
St Andrew's Church

Bath St Methodist Church in 1971Another 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.
Wilmot Street

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

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" Sunday Half Hour 1966of 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.
Ornate Upper Storey

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.

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Forward to Stage 34

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