The story of the Combe Down Stone Mines has been far from black and white – until now!
Meet the badger community and their Guide to the Alternative Combe Down!
A brand-new, charming and beautifully illustrated children’s storybook is reaching the shelves this summer. Written for the children of Bath, this heart-warming and hilarious new tale takes young readers on a journey below the surface, following in the footsteps of mysterious, nocturnal creatures to discover the creative and magical ways in which badgers make use of the disused stone mines.
“This is a story about the Combe Down you do not see because you are a human. The night life of Combe Down is black and white; it starts at dusk and ends at dawn. It is a mirror image of day-time Combe Down. If you got up very early, or stayed out very late, you might have caught a glimpse of a Brock but, whatever it was doing, it would pretend to be gardening, so you still would not have seen that much…”
Rosemary Simmons, artist and local historian has used her knowledge of the village and career in the visual arts to compose a joyful new publication, in a playful twist on the city’s history, jam-packed with activities to entertain the whole family this summer.
Rosemary co-founded the Combe Down Heritage Society in 2004 to collect, preserve and safeguard the village’s rich history as large-scale engineering works began to stabilise the ground below and, destroy the archaeological record spanning more than 300 years. The natural stone reserves beneath the city were removed to create much of the Georgian city we know today. The underground mining activity left behind a myriad of passages and, although the majority was pumped full of foam concrete, small areas remain in this tale and, it is these areas that became the home of the badger communities.
Families can join the Brock clan deep underground and discover the wild and wonderful lifestyle of these furry friends, out of sight from the watchful eyes of surface-dwelling humans. Rosemary has even intertwined noteworthy, historical figures into this tale and, readers will enjoy finding badgers personified into the likes of William “Strata” Smith, Ralph Allen, George Steart and Patrick Alexander and, their contributions to the modern world are introduced throughout the book.
Imogen Smith, former resident of Combe Down and now Collections Development Officer at the Museum of Bath Stone comments: “growing up during the stabilisation, I was not made aware of the importance of the mines; the project was just an unremarkable green fence next to my playground. This imaginative book will help local children see the value in their village’s unique industrial heritage in a fun, new way!
Miranda Litchfield, responsible for implementing the museum’s development adds, “It is such a pleasure to support the launch of Rosemary’s new book. The museum is continuously seeking new ways to inspire younger audiences and, engage them with the rich industrial heritage belonging to Combe Down. We are delighted to share news that these gorgeous characters will also become a prominent feature in the museum’s new interpretation, providing a guiding hand for younger visitors as we explore four new key themes in the story of the Combe Down Stone Mines; geology, archaeology, ecology and engineering.”
To get your paws on a copy of A Guide to the Alternative Combe Down, join Rosemary for the official book launch at the Combe Down Arts Trail, Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September 2022, where children can Meet the Author and enjoy ready-made badger masks, Humbug Balls and even a humbug sweet giveaway!
For more details on the Combe Down Arts Trail happening this September, visit http://www.cdarttrail.com/
The book launch coincides with celebrations of the author’s 90th birthday and paves the way for the new family offering at the Museum of Bath Stone which will open officially to visitors in 2023.
The book will be available from the museum’s Bath Stone Bookshop from September.