On Combe Down since 1950

The Monument Demolished

The Monument Demolished

After Ralph Allen’s death Bishop Warburton had erected his own memorial to him on what is now known as Monument Field.

Ralph Allen monument, Bath Chronicle, Saturday 5 March 1938

Ralph Allen monument, Bath Chronicle, Saturday 5 March 1938

Warburton loved Allen and had written of him[1]:

"He is, I verily believe, the greatest character in any age of the world. ... I have studied his character even maliciously, to find where the weakness lies, but have studied in vain."

The Monument was not well liked:

‘Not only was the spot ill-chosen, but the monument itself a circular tower enclosed in a triangle is devoid of all merit and interest, and nothing could be colder and balder than the inscription (composed by Bishop Hurd) placed on a slab over the door:

"Memoriae sacrum Optimi viri, Randulphii Allen. Qui virtutem veram simplicemque colis, Venerare hoc saxum."’[2]

By the 1940s it was decaying and in need of repair. It was demolished in 1953.[3]

Street Numbering

Street Numbering

Streets have often been named after a local landmark or person or something else that was memorable. Strange as it may seem to us, street numbering is a relatively recent innovation, though house names were created on much the same basis as street names.

The first known street numbers appeared in Paris in about 1513 on the Pont Notre-Dame. The houses all had identical facades so numbers were introduced to distinguish them. The first recorded instance of street numbering in England is Prescot Street in Goodmans Fields in 1708. A requirement that houses be numbered came with the Postage Act 1765. Even then the methodology was left to developers and occupants, who might not like the number 13, for example, which would lead – along with new buildings put up in gaps, the combining of streets and other developments – to things becoming quite muddled. The Towns Improvement Clauses Act 1847 gave some powers to local authorities and the Metropolitan Management Act 1857 gave power to the Board of Works to control street names and numbers.[4]

The Public Health Act 1925 gave more powers and in 1957 Bathavon Rural District Council decided to renumber parts of Combe Down.


Changes to Combe Down street numbering in 1957

Changes to Combe Down street numbering in 1957

National Trust

National Trust

The National Trust has over 500 acres on Combe Down, at Lyncombe and Widcombe, Claverton Down and Bathwick, the bulk being the 242 acres of Rainbow Wood farm.[5] This was willed to the Trust in 1959 by Margaret Mary Mallett (1882 – 1959) of Longwood House (now the BMI Bath Clinic) who had promised to bequeath it to the National Trust in about 1931 or 1932.[6]

Members of her family, Margaret Elizabeth Snook Mallett (1905 – 1991), who was her daughter – her father had changed his name from Snook to Mallett – and Barbara Penelope Mallett Lock (1896 – 1978), who was her sister, later donated another 24 acres – Klondyke Copse and Fairy Wood – as well as 15 acres in Lyncombe and Widcombe and 66 acres at Bushey Norwood. The National Trust also bought 125 acres in 1984 to help protect the Bath skyline where there is a circular walk of over 7.5 miles.[7]

The Mallett family were jewellers and silversmiths, who started at 36 Milsom Street in Bath in 1865. In the 1890s they took the lease of the Octagon Chapel in Milsom Street. They soon started dealing in antiques and in 1910 opened in London at 40 New Bond Street.

Mallet was described in the Draper’s Record of 26th December 1908 as:

“…the most sumptuous shop in Europe, the wares of which include practically priceless curios and treasures of historic association. Probably not under one roof may be found more millionaires in the course of a year than at Mallett's, in Bath, in the whole of the Kingdom.”
Mallett Antiques The Octagon Bath 1900

Mallett Antiques The Octagon Bath 1900

In 1937 the Bath business closed. In 2014 Mallett still trades in London and New York.[8]

In 1993 the Christian Brothers and Prior Park College gifted 28 acres of the lower grounds of Prior Park Gardens.[9]

On a personal note, the ashes of my father, Robert Eric Hill (1917 – 2011) were buried under an oak tree donated to Prior Park Gardens in 2011.

The ashes of Robert Eric Hill (1917 - 2002) being buried under a new oak tree at Prior Park Gardens in 2011

The ashes of Robert Eric Hill (1917 – 2002) being buried under a new oak tree at Prior Park Gardens in 2011


Ralph Allen School

Ralph Allen School was built in 1957 and opened in 1958.

Bath Clinic

The Bath Clinic comprises Longwood House and modern additions that were completed in 1983 to the designs of the Hospital Design Partnership by Marples Ridgway Property for Grand Met Services for Hospitals.[10]

Longwood House was built by John Francis W. Snook (1875 – 1947) (who changed his name to Mallett by deed poll[11]) around 1905.

Wessex Water

In 1997 Wessex Water bought 6¾ acres on the corner of Brassknocker Hill on a part of the site of the old Isolation Hospital. In February 1999 planning permission was granted.[12] Work started then and the building was completed in July 2000. The design is energy efficient and uses a steel frame and pre-cast concrete and clad in stone and glass. It has a floor area of 9,921 square metres.[13]

Combe Down Tunnel – Two Tunnels Greenway

Having been closed in 1967, the Combe Down tunnel reopened on 6th April 2013 as a shared use walking and cycling path. The idea gained approval in 2008 and the Two Tunnels scheme cost some £4.3 million.

Mulberry Park

Mulberry Park

In 2013 Curo purchased the 48 acre (19 hectare) Ministry of Defence site started by the Admiralty in Combe Down, for £50 million, intending to build about 700 houses on the site.

In August 2014 ITV‘s Bob Constantine reported on the demolition and redevelopment of the site.

Outline planning consent was secured in September 2014 and detailed planning consent for phase 1 was secured in March 2015. Construction started on site in Spring 2016.

Of the 700 homes 30% of the homes are to be affordable – 75% social rent, 25% shared ownership [14]. The 700 new homes range from 1 / 2 bedroomed apartments to 2 / 6 bedroomed houses, 277 are within the first phase. There are nearly £2 million of Section 106 contributions.

Examples of housing and prices include:

  • Two bedroom semi-detached 775 sq ft house with 1 parking space and garden at £365,000 or £292,000 on help to buy
  • Three bedroom 1,030 sq ft detached house with single garage and 1 parking space at £430,000 or £344,000 on help to buy
  • Four bedroom 1,527 sq ft semi-detached house with 2 parking spaces at £550,000 or £440,000 on help to buy

The development also includes a new £10 million primary school with 210 places, children’s nursery and community hub. The school will open its doors for their first term in September 2018. Bristol-based Educate Together academy trust is the school’s official sponsor.