Join BRLSI for a talk attempting to answer the questions Bathonians want to hear
Bath’s Recreation Ground (or ‘the Rec’ as it’s commonly known) is a plot of land in the heart of the city that is used and loved by many. However it has also been, and continues to be, the subject of fierce debate by Bathonians with regard to one particular question: should the Rec be built on?
The particular trigger for this question has been the overtures made by Bath F.C. rugby club to expand the size of their stadium, which is currently sited on the Rec, and this has provoked some members of the public due to their interpretation of this move as a violation of covenants instated from the point of its initial sale in the 20th century.
The Rec was originally sold to the Bath and County Recreation Ground Company in 1922 by the Trustees of Captain G W Forester, a member of the Forester family that originally owned the land which had been leased to the aforementioned company for the preceding three decades for sporting use (which included the development of a cricket pavilion, and work which was carried out on the land to make it sufficient for the undertaking of sports). Notably, this original sale contained covenants about its use, the notable one being a restriction on work that could be undertaken if it were to be a public nuisance.
Subsequent to its initial sale in 1922, the Rec was once again sold, this time to the City of Bath Corporation in 1956, with these covenants persisted, and then again transferred to the Bath City Council in 1974. In 1996 Bath Council was replaced by B&NES (Bath and North East Somerset), and in the same year Rugby Union became professional which set off a series of court cases.
Soon after the turn of the 21st century, in 2002, the Rec became owned by a charitable trust (Bath Recreation Ground Trust) with the Council as its sole trustee. After more court cases, a different trustee was appointed and in 2016 conditions were placed on how the Rec was to be used.
Deciding on next steps for the Rec is so difficult due to the wide range of present and historical invested parties, owners, and stipulations about its use.
In our hotly anticipated, and undoubtedly thought-provoking, upcoming talk and discussion Paul Jackson will be attempting to answer some of the most vital questions surrounding this situation, whilst also delving into the history of the Bath Recreation Ground. The goal of the talk will be to unpick its complex past, whilst analysing its role in the community at present with a view to considering the best course for its future.