Washing in the Well

Please share your memories with me on judyjwrhub@gmail.com…

Our project was accepted  for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Also we have been granted from Quartet Community Foundation an “Express Grant” [E S &A Robinson Family Fund]


Washing in the Well:Bathing in the Past: capturing the heritage of Jacobs Wells: which focuses on the stories of the area around Jacobs Wells Baths. This Grade 2 listed, Queen Anne Revival style swimming pool and public baths was built by Bristol Corporation as part of a mission to improve public health, particularly of the working poor. It opened in 1889 and closed as a Baths in 1977, it has remained the most significant building in Jacobs Wells Road. It is the subject of a current Community Asset Transfer (CAT).

This project aims to maintain the engagement of the local community through the latest period of change in a changing neighbourhood. It will collate the history of this area, focusing on the importance of water to marginalised or deprived communities from the 10th century, when the spring fed a medieval Jewish Mikveh.

Display in the mens warm baths section of Jacobs Wells Baths. Towel washing at the baths,; life without a bathroom

Between  late January to July 2018 the project aims to collate the history of this area, focusing on the importance of water to marginalised or deprived communities. Specifically, it will highlight

  • Harbour communities and the Victorian working poor
  • Living memories of people who used the Baths for their own health and recreation                      How?
  • Through community participatory research to gather and catalogue the high-quality resources that have been collected over a number of years by local amateur historians in order to put their content into the public domain in accessible formats

• Through an intergenerational activity to recording oral histories and stories from people who have used the Baths
• By developing partnerships with local and city-wide organisations that reflect the diversity of the area over centuries; e.g. Bristol Ferries (history of the harbourside); local schools and Jewish organisations to raise awareness of the Mikveh
• Building on a map of the watercourse that is being developed by local schools through a pilot project

By the end of the project, we will have captured and recorded this heritage at risk. In this way, the project will ensure that people in this diverse community have better access to and understanding of its history.


Spring water tanks at Jacobs Wells Baths

Our links with local and city-wide organisations have shaped this project  including:

• Local schools: the project offers a means to bring parents and the wider community together through memory-sharing

  • Heritage Schools Initiative is supporting this activity
  • Bristol Ferries: sharing opportunities for oral history; distributing the project booklet
  • Local traders: adding their knowledge of the area, and of the people who live locally. Some have been trading in the area over many decades and will contribute to the oral histories.

• UWE Architecture Students: facilitating an inter-generational activity with local school students to explore architectural models of the baths

• Bristol Archives: highly supportive and encouraging of projects the widen access to the archives

Original plaque at Jacob’s Wells Baths

  • So far we have
  • Started writing workshops to produce a booklet at Bristol Central library, old library room Tuesdays 1.30 to 3.30 pm.June 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th.  All welcome to contribute..
  • had a walk round historic sites in Jacobs Wells Road with years 5 and 6 from St Georges Brandon Hill
  • involved St Michael on the Mount primary school in researching Jacobs Well
  • Had two memory days at the Baths with oral histories recorded
  • publicised our project launch on Saturday 21st July, 12 a.m to 3 p.m