Championing Bath’s historic Milsom Street

Visitors to Milsom Street in Bath are being encouraged to make the most of the historic street’s stores while shopping safely, with the introduction of a series of improvements and activities in the run up to Christmas.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is working with Bath Business Improvement District (Bath BID) and local traders to give the city’s most famous shopping street a boost.

Temporary access restrictions to enable social distancing mean that Milsom Street now gives priority to pedestrians and is closed to all vehicles except buses. It’s created a more pleasant environment for shoppers supporting social distancing. The street will see a number of interventions over the coming weeks: an ‘I love Milsom Street’ banner now hangs proudly across the street, new planters and hanging baskets have been installed, and the area will be made even greener with the installation of mini-parklets incorporating seating and planting before Christmas.

The team behind Bath Carnival are creating three shop window art installations, two of which promote the safe use of our High Streets to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The colourful window displays are designed to attract footfall and any selfies taken can be tagged with #lovemilsomstreet.

Stu Matson, Director of Bath Carnival said: "It's been great bringing a splash of colour to Milsom St after lockdown and partnering with NightJar Events has allowed us to be really adventurous with the designs, incorporating large scale balloon garlands and bespoke macramé into our installs.

“Wherever possible we've used recycled or repurposed materials, including a second-hand mannequin courtesy of Primark, an old set of scrubs from a local nurse and a host of upcycled materials from Scrapstore Bristol.”

Milsom Street will also host pop-up shops and a Christmas food stall and there will also be a socially distanced entertainment pitch.

Councillor Richard Samuel, cabinet member for Resources, said: “Milsom Street is such a key shopping destination and it’s important we support its traders by promoting it as a safe and welcoming environment. The planned improvements and events will create a fantastic atmosphere in the build up to Christmas and I have no doubt will encourage people to explore and enjoy everything Milsom Street has to offer.

“Of course, we must all play our part to stop the spread of Covid-19 and over the coming weeks we’ll be placing adverts on buses and erecting posters at bus stops reminding people to socially distance, wear a face covering when required and to wash their hands while enjoying the local high street.”

With the cancellation of Bath’s Christmas market this year due to the pandemic traders say its vital shoppers support them during the festive season.

Nickie Portman, from Portman Boutique, said: “We love and are so proud to have our boutique on one of the most beautiful streets in Bath. Milsom Street is the heart of Bath.”

Allison Herbert, Bath BID CEO, said: “Milsom Street is an important landmark and we are pleased to be working with partners to ensure that it is better placed to withstand the current challenges. We look forward to working with the council to develop a long-term future for Milsom Street which will ensure that it continues to provide an attractive and engaging place to visit.”

Many of the activities in Milsom Street are funded by the West of England Combined Authority’s Love our High Streets funding.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “This is a great example of how our Love our High Streets programme is helping to revitalise our High Streets and ensure that they remain at the heart of our local communities. I am really pleased to see these further activities in Milsom Street which have progressed by working with local businesses.”

The project has also received funding from the European Regional Development Fund through the Reopening the High Streets Safely Fund.