by Mohamed El-Zeadani, PhD student, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Thirty-two of us, all PhD students from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, visited the city of Bath on the 29th of April 2023. Our journey started by assembling in front of the College’s main entrance on Exhibition Road at 7:00 am. Half an hour later, we started the 97 miles journey west of London by coach. It took us about three hours to get there and the weather could not have been any better as cheerful lines of sun rays welcomed us as soon as we arrived.
On the coach preparing to head to Bath
We hurried to enter the Roman Baths to avoid missing the timeslot for our pre-booked tickets. Soon after, we dispersed in that Saturday morning crowd and spent the next two hours roaming around. Aquae Sulis, as Bath was known back then, was one of the Roman settlements established after 60 AD. The baths were designed for public bathing and were used until the end of Roman rule in Britain in 500 AD.
Walking along the terrace facing the Great Bath, we were greeted by a collection of statues standing one next to the other. One of those was Julius Caesar (100 BC – 44 BC), who made the initial attempts to conquer Britain. Beside him stood other famous Roman emperors and generals including Claudius (10 BC – 54 AD), Hadrian (76 AD – 138 AD), and Constantine (272 AD – 337 AD).
The Great Bath
Julius Caesar (Centre) and Claudius (Right)
Navigating the walkways of the Roman Baths we saw the Frigidarium (cold pool), Hippocamp mosaic and the more famous Gorgon head. The latter has over the years become the symbol of the city. We also walked on the grounds of what was previously an indoor gym. A projector showed images of Romans clad in gym clothes exercising. Who would have thought that they had their own Ethos back then!
Before leaving the Roman Baths, we tried the spring water from a fountain towards the end of the museum. The Romans drank from this same water and believed it had healing powers. The water tasted a bit metallic, which turns out to be due to its high sulphur content.
In front of Bath Abbey after leaving the Roman Baths
We then decided to grab something to eat and made our way to Sally Lunn’s Eating House to get some of the famous buns sold there. After having lunch nearby, we walked around the city centre for a while and then headed to the Jane Austen Centre. The writer of Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813) lived in Bath between 1801 and 1806. Unbeknownst to us, as we walked into the centre, we were treated to a journey back in time where all staff could have been mistaken for characters from the movie Pride and Prejudice. A young lady dressed in Regency costume, speaking as if in the movie with the constant “my dear” acting as a full stop to every third sentence, gave us an informative background about Jane’s family and upbringing.
Outside Sally Lunn’s Eating House
We then walked around the centre, seeing some of Jane’s portraits and trying some of the games she played. Apparently, Jane enjoyed the cup and ball game which she could do for a100 consecutive times without a mistake! There was also a chance to try some of the Regency costumes available on display.
Inside the Jane Austen Centre
An hour and a half later, we left the Jane Austen Centre and walked around for a bit to eventually stop at Pulteney Bridge. We enjoyed the tranquil scenery of water running under the bridge and birds peacefully flying around it. Clouds soon began to form as if anticipating our daytrip is nearing its end, bidding us farewell with the occasional drizzle. We headed to the coach and at 5:30 pm sharp we started our journey back to London.
Our group was diverse, covering different research sections in our department, including transport, environmental and water resources, geotechnics, structures, fluid mechanics and materials. The daytrip was a perfect opportunity to socialise outside the department and get the know each other a bit better. We are grateful to Graduate School for the Postgraduate Community Fund which covered some of the transportation costs for this trip. We also thank our department for their generous support.
Group picture in Bath Before Leaving