A celebration of Bath’s industrial and commercial heritage
The centrepiece of the Museum, covering an entire floor, is the reconstructed engineering and soft drinks factory of Victorian businessman J. B. Bowler.
Walk through the workshops and offices and see a complete soft drinks and bottling plant. Some of the machinery is in working order and there are regular demonstrations. Audio guides are available free of charge and guided tours are provided when possible.
An introduction to the city’s development is given in ‘Bath at Work: 2000 Years of Earning a Living and an exhibition on invention and the landscape of working Bath, ‘Bath in Particular’, is on show in the ground floor Hudson Gallery.
On the other floors there are a reconstructed Bath Stone mine, complete with dripping water, reconstructed workshops of a Bath cabinet maker, a Bath Chair exhibited at the Crystal Palace exhibition of 1851, a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles printed in Pitman Shorthand, a singular example of a six-stroke double acting gas engine made by local inventor Samuel Griffin and a unique self-winding clock of 1866 built in the city.
The Museum also has on display a car manufactured in 1914 by the Horstmann Car Company of Bath. This is the earliest known example in the world and is fitted with a kick-starting mechanism and other unusual features. Sidney Horstmann’s car company operated from 1914 until 1928, making around 2000 cars.
The Museum is housed in a former Real Tennis Court, built in 1777. The Museum is close to the Assembly Rooms, Circus and Royal Crescent.
The Museum holds large historic collections of film, photographs, documents, sound recordings and objects relating to the commercial development of the city. These include over 40,000 glass plate negatives from the local engineering firm of Stothert & Pitt, over 400 taped interviews with local workers and moving film of the city at work.
All are available for viewing however if you wish to view the archive collections you must make an appointment.
You may also be interested in the following museums in the local area:
- American Museum
- Avon Valley Railway
- Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution
- Bath Postal Museum
- Beckford’s Tower
- Bradford on Avon Museum
- Building of Bath Collection
- Claverton Pumping Station
- Fashion Museum
- Frenchay Village Museum
- Georgian Garden
- Herschel Museum of Astronomy
- Holburne Museum
- Jane Austen Centre
- Kingswood Heritage Museum
- M Shed
- Museum of East Asian Art
- 1 Royal Crescent
- Prior Park Landscape Gardens
- Radstock Museum
- Roman Baths
- Saltford Brassmill
- Victoria Art Gallery
- Underfall Boatyard
There are also a number of local history organisations:
- Avon Industrial Buildings Trust
- Bath Heritage Watchdog
- The Batheaston Society
- The Bathford Society
- Bristol & Avon Family History Society
- Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society (BIAS)
- Brunel’s Other Bridge
- Clifton Rocks Railway
- History of Bath Research Group
- Keynsham and Saltford Local History Society
- Ram Hill Colliery Friends
- Somerset Coal Canal Society
- South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group
- Weston Village Heritage & Research