A – Z OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
R is for Roman Baths
Today we travel to Bath
The Roman Baths
In Somerset in South West England
In the city of Bath is a complex site of historical interest containing the Roman Baths, a well preserved Roman site used for public bathing at that time.
They are below the modern street level and have four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum which holds finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century.
As a major tourist attract the Baths receive more than one million visitors a year, where the baths can be viewed but you are not allowed to enter the water.
Hot springs form from water which bubbles up from the ground at Bath which falls as rain on the nearby Mendip Hills and percolates down through limestone to a depth of 2,700 metres, (8,900 ft) – 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to 640C (147.20F) – 960C (204.80F). Under pressure the heated water rises to the surface along fissures and faults in the limestone.
The Great Bath — the entire structure above the level of the pillar bases is a later construction
Steam rising from bath
Water safety, Bath was charged with the responsibility for the hot springs in a Royal Charter of 1591 by Elizabeth 1. It has now been passed on to Bath and North East Somerset Council who carry out monitoring of pressure, temperature and flow rates. The thermal waters contain sodium, calcium, chloride and sulphate ions in high concentrations.
The water that flows through the Roman Baths is considered unsafe for bathing, partly due to its having passed through the still-functioning original lead pipes, and up until World War II, it was advertised on the basis of the radioactivity it contained. However the more significant danger is now considered to be infectious diseases. In October 1978, a young girl swimming with the Bath Dolphins, a local swimming club, in the restored Roman Bath contracted meningitis and died, leading to the closure of the bath for several years. Tests showed that Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba, was in the water.
Do I have to wash again tonight?
Cried my child with eyes so bright
The bath is full of hot steamy water
A large spacious room fixed by the plumber
In olden times and days long ago
Bathing occurred with everyone else on show
Secrets were whispered in amongst the vapours
Nothing written down on paper
A healthy curative spa
From Roman times through to Victorian era
Drinking the water was a cure-all so said some
Although many times there were upset tums.