Combe Down
Combe Down is a village suburb of Bath, England in the Bath and North East Somerset unitary authority within the ceremonial county of Somerset. In the 1950s Combe Down was incorporated into Bath to enable the development of the new postwar housing. "Combe" or "coombe" is a West Country word meaning a steep-sided valley. Combe Down sits on a ridge above and about 1.5 miles to the south of Bath city centre. The area described as encompassing Combe Down includes the old village of predominantly 18th and early 19th century Bath stone houses off the main North Road; an estate of ex- council housing at Foxhill; a small private housing development to the east; and a 'ribbon' of development along North Road.

Old infrastructure
Below surface is an area of redundant stone mines, which are currently the subject of a major infill and stabilisation project funded by central Government. An old railway tunnel Combe Down Tunnel, which is planned to become part of the Two Tunnels Greenway walking and cycling path, emerges below the southern slopes of the village.

Local amenities
The local primary school is Combe Down Primary School, housed partly in a unique log cabin imported from Finland. The nearest secondary school with sixth form is Ralph Allen School. Both Monkton Combe School's pre-prep department (Glenburnie) and its preparatory school are located in the village. There are local shops, pubs, chapels and churches within walking distance for most residents. Combe Down has flourishing rugby union and cricket clubs, Village Rooms, a doctors' surgery and a dentist as well as an active Scout Group (10th Bath) with its own Scouts' Hut and an active local heritage group, the Combe Down History Society. Shops in the village include a Co-op, a newsagent, a delicatessen with coffee shop, an estate agency and a building society, together with a barber, two hair salons and a beautician. Barclays' Bank maintains a small branch on North Road. The village post office closed in 2006 despite much public opposition. The village green (Firs Field) includes the war memorial and a play area with children's play equipment that was renewed and renovated in 2006. Most of this field is currently being utilised by the mine infill project. A group has been established (The Friends of Firs Field) to ensure that local residents' interests are properly represented both during and after this period of upheaval, and that restoration of the field is sympathetic. The village pubs are the King William, the Horseshoe, the Hadley Arms and the Foresters', re-named the Forester and Flower in late 2006. Bus services to the area are every thirty minutes from Bath city centre via service number 2 which goes to the village and to Foxhill. In the evenings these services continue, although less frequently, funded by the local council. The Bath 'circular' bus route passes along North Road through the area, mainly transporting students to the University of Bath.

Stone mines
See also Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines. The mines at Combe Down are Oolithic Limestone mines, mainly worked in the 18th and 19th century. Stone was extracted by the "room and pillar" method, by which chambers were mined, leaving pillars of stone between them to support the roof. The Bath stone used for most of the buildings in Bath - as well as for other important buildings such as Buckingham Palace - was mined from beneath and around Combe Down. Many of these workings were once owned by the eighteenth century Postmaster General Ralph Allen (1694–1764). Later building above the mines, which were closed in the 1880s, created a hazard, with some roads and houses resting on a thin layer of ground - in a few places only 1-2 metres thick - above deep underground cavities, with inadequate support. A five-year government-funded project began in late 2005 to stabilise and extensively infill the abandoned workings in the village and several weight restrictions are in place on local roads. The Council approved the planning application in June 2003 and approximately 760 properties are included in its boundary. All areas inside the boundary are being stabilised to satisfy a 100-year design life while ensuring archaeologically important areas and bat habitats are protected. The scheme involves infilling with a foamed concrete. In some hydrologically sensitive areas, "stowing" - an infill with aggregate limestone - is planned. Archaeologically important areas are being filled with sand, and bat caves and tunnels are being created. The £154.6 million grant for the works is coming from the Land Stabilisation Programme which was set up by the government in 1999 to deal with "abandoned non-coal mine workings which are likely to collapse and threaten life and property". The Programme is managed by English Partnerships - the Government's national regeneration agency. The total amount includes £22.7m which had already been used for emergency work before the approval of the main project. In September 2006 signs of subsidence began to show on Combe Road, between Westerleigh Road and North Road. The road was temporarily closed to through traffic as far as the village centre as a precaution, and buses were re-routed via North Road. Local businesses are open as usual and it is planned that Combe Road will re-open in May 2008.

Site of Roman Villa
It is believed that the site of a Roman villa is situated on the southern slopes of the village somewhere below Belmont Road, which was discovered in the 1850s. An inscription on a stone recovered from the area reads "PRO SALVTE IMP CES M AVR ANTONINI PII FELICIS INVICTI AVG NAEVIVS AVG LIB ADIVT PROC PRINCIPIA RVINA OPRESS A SOLO RESTITVIT". This can be translated as: "For the health of Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus, Naevius the imperial freedman, helped to restore from its foundations the procurator's headquarters which had broken down in ruins." It is thought to date from AD 212-222.

Jewish Burial Ground
The Jewish burial ground is a site of historic value on Bradford Road and is one of only fifteen in the country to survive from the Georgian period. Dating from 1812, the last recorded burial there was in 1946. The Prayer House (Ohel) which dates from about 1836 is of particular interest because there are few examples still standing and English Heritage has recently given it a Grade II listing. The site contains two chest tombs and some fifty gravestones, dating from between 1842 to 1921, with both Hebrew and English inscriptions. A bid for funds to restore the Prayer House, conserve the grave stones, repair the boundary wall and develop interpretation of the site is in preparation. While the burial ground has suffered a period of neglect since its closure in the early 20th century, much remains intact to serve as an important reminder of Bath’s past Jewish community.

De Montalt Mill
The De Montalt Paper mill stood on the southern slopes of the village; it had fallen into picturesque ruin and was converted into housing during 2007. The mill was probably built by the second Baron De Montalt, Viscount Hawarden in the early 19th century and was owned by John Bally (a bookseller in Milsom Street in Bath), William Allan or Ellan and George Steart (d.1837), all trading as paper-makers under the name of John Bally & Co. A print dating from the 1820s shows the mill which then possessed the largest water wheel in England, measuring 56 feet in diameter. It has subsequently been discovered that most of the coloured papers used by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) for a good number of his approximately twenty thousand drawings and watercolours were made at De Montalt Mill. The collection is now housed in The Turner Bequest at the Tate Gallery, London. The paper was of a very high standard and the watercolour boards were made without being pasted together which ensured they remained free from mildew; however, despite the early success of the business, it failed in 1834. The premises were later used for a variety of purposes including the possible but unconfirmed manufacture of Gutta-percha (a natural rubber-based material used in picture frames and golf balls); market gardening (1871); and cabinet making from (1875) until the lease expired in 1905 and it closed. In the 20th century cows and pigs were being reared on the site. Various parts of the mill have grade II listed building status, including the southern range which consisted of the apprentice shops and stores, the main east block which was the printing works, used to print notes for Bank of England, and later converted to cabinet manufacturing, and the chimney. An Italianate villa set in the grounds of the works is also grade II listed. The Mill and associated buildings were converted to residential use during 2007, with the main mill building being converted into four apartments.

Local flora
A local woodland wild flower is the Bath Asparagus, also known as the Spiked Star of Bethlehem ( Ornithogalum pyrenaicum). The flowers appear in June after the leaves die; the leaves resemble bluebell leaves but are a softer green and not as glossy. The flowering spike is up to one metre high. At the unopened stage the flowers used to be gathered in small quantities as a fresh vegetable by local people; it was also occasionally sold in local markets. However, picking the flowers today is not encouraged as it is becoming more rare. According to research carried out by Avon Wildlife Trust the plant is found throughout Europe but has a limited UK distribution. It is possible that the flower was first brought to the Bath area as seeds carried on the wheels and hooves of Roman vehicles and animals.

Grade II listed buildings in Combe Down village

Notable residents
Henry John Patch (better known as Harry Patch) was born in Combe Down in 1898; both his father and grandfather were stonemasons. His family home is still in existence there, in Gladstone Road. He was briefly the third oldest man in the world and the last trench veteran of World War I. He died in July 2009, aged 111, by which time he was the last soldier to have fought in the trenches, the second last surviving British war veteran and one of four surviving soldiers from the conflict worldwide. Charlie McDonnell (also known as charlieissocoollike) is a teenager and YouTube vlogger. He is the second most subscribed YouTuber in the United Kingdom as of January 15th 2010. . Nick DeCesare is a member of the jazz band; French Connection Jazz, who regularly appear at the Green Park Brasserie in Bath. He plays the clarinet and sax and is widely regarded as the head of the group. The band itself specialise in swing, mainstream, trad and latin jazz for all occasions. Their signature piece is the song, Black and White Rag, which shot into the top 48 in the jazz charts in the UK.

  • No 2 Avenue Place
  • Nos 3 to 5 (consec) ST 7562 37/978 Avenue Place
  • Ashlands
  • Belmont
  • Combe Ridge
  • St Christopher
  • Vale View House
  • West Brow
  • Nos 1 to 3 Byfield Buildings
  • Nos 1 to 5 Byfield Place
  • Claremont House
  • 113-117 Church Road
  • Combe Lodge
  • No 141 Church Road
  • Combe House
  • 149 Church Road
  • 151 Church Road
  • Nos 153 and 155 Church Road
  • No 157 Church Road
  • No 159 Church Road
  • Nos 71-79 Church Road
  • 81 Church Road
  • Nos 83-101 Church Road
  • Combe Down junior school
  • Hope Cote Lodge
  • Lodge to the Brow
  • The Brow
  • The Vicarage
  • Union Chapel
  • Nos 16-22 Combe Road
  • 24 Combe Road
  • Nos 26-30 Combe Road
  • 42 and 44 Combe Road
  • 46 and 48 Combe Road
  • 50 and 52 Combe Road
  • 62 Combe Road
  • Nos 1 to 3 De Montalt Cottages
  • No 1 De Montalt Place (National Westminster Bank)
  • Nos 124-128 North Road
  • 130 and 132 North Road
  • 134 and 136 North Road
  • 138 North Road
  • 140 and 140A North Road
  • 142 North Road
  • 144 North Road
  • 146-152 North Road
  • 154 and 156 North Road
  • 100-104 North Road
  • 106A North Road
  • 1-3 Oxford Place
  • Tyning House
  • Victoria Cottage
  • 1 and 2 Park Place
  • No 3 Park Place
  • 158 to 162 Priory Place
  • Nos 1 to 13 consec Quarry Vale Cottages
  • Rock Hall House
  • Lodge Style
  • Isabella House


2 photos

Building Activity

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