In the world of museums and attractions there are plenty of pundits who can proffer an explanation for a change in visiting patterns and you can take your pick from macro-economic circumstances, cultural trends and ‘local factors’ or some proportional permutation of them. Personally I’d like to think it’s something to do with the investment we have made in the last four years in conservation, better access and improved interpretation at the site, but in this strange world where science and speculation meet, any reason can have some weight and some reasons must be right. If only we knew which ones!
Since its discovery in the 1870s visitors, or at least the prospect of visitors, have been the reason why the Roman Baths were uncovered, developed and indeed continue to exist. Visitor's interest and the money they bring have sustained the site now for well over a century. Without visitors the site would have little purpose and it would have no money for conservation and maintenance either. It would become a forgotten and ruinous ruin.
|The Great Bath in the 1890's|
I think I’ll leave the matter here for now. This is a mystery that cannot be solved in one post. Check back on Monday (following post) for Part 2 and feel free to give suggestions about why the Victorians may have visited the site in the comments.
Roman Baths & Pump Room Manager