Spas of England

As you may be aware, I am currently making another long format episode of the Bald Explorer about the subject of water. Not any old water you that might find in your tap or down a well – this is Chalybeate spring water, stacked with iron and coloured with an orange tinge. There are quite a few springs up and down the country like this and many located in famous resorts – Bath, Epsom and Harrogate. The BE is interested in one discovered by a nobleman while convalescing at the beginning of the 1600s in an area we now call Royal Tunbridge Wells. A place where gentry and royalty came in large numbers to be seen and parade along the Pantiles at the height of the Georgian period.

In 1841, Augustus Granville published the second volume of his well researched book, The Spas of England which concentrated on his travels in the Midlands and South of that country. He was an eminent physician who had previously brought out a guide to the spas of Germany – a country renown for their love and fascination with health giving water.

Granville worked his way round the country, describing not only the facilities which the Spa towns had to offer, but also tit bits of information about the locality, eating places and hotels. He stayed at Tunbridge Wells for a short, but didn’t have too many good things to stay about it. On one occasion, when in Buxton, Derbyshire, staying at the Crescent hotel, a hugely popular and expensive mansion of a place, the general manageress asked him if he was the same A.B. Granville that authored the work on Spas of Germany to which he bashfully confessed he was. She lampooned immediately, nearly casting him asunder from her hotel – the reason she exclaimed was that by telling the readers of his book how marvelous it was in Germany, most of her wealthy customers had lost interest in the English Spa scene and had disappeared abroad – many never returned.

The work is a little out of date, of course, but aside from the information on spring water and health advice bathing in the sea, it is a jolly good read.

I am hoping to have the programme finished and delivered to the Community Channel by January 2014 and no doubt it will transmitted soon after.

The Bald Explorer is a self funded TV documentary series and if you have enjoyed the programmes, you help is always appreciated. You may donate, if you like, to help me cover the costs of production by using the Paypal button to the right hand side of the website. Thank you so much.

In Production… Chalybeate

In the next Bald Explorer programme, hopefully aired on the Community Channel in 2014, I am in search of the spring water of a Spa town in Kent. I am referring to Chalybeate of Tunbridge Wells – that’s pronounced ‘kal-eeb-ee-ot’ by the way, meaning iron water. I want to tell how the original orange coloured waters were discovered, by whom and how a fashionable resort arose from nothing at the beginning of the 17th century. Jason Reeve, my son Billy and myself have been stalking around the Kentish weald with camera and tripod, boom pole and microphone getting the facts (as far as they are known) onto digital media. I will be editing the footage and shaping it up into a TV programme fairly soon. There is still much, however, to do.

toad2Today, for example, I was over at an actor friend of mine’s abode shooting a short sequence depicting the eminent physician and Spa enthusiast, Augustus Granville, who wrote an entertaining book The Spas of England, published in 1841.  He wasn’t terribly impressed with the spring water or the resort when he visited at the beginning of the Victorian period, although to be fair to the town of Tunbridge Wells, it was a few years after its most fashionable period, the 18th Century. He bemoaned that few used the cold bath and that there was little mineral quality to the famous water. Nick Scahill, who collects all things Victorian, agreed very kindly to play the part of Granville.

The wells, named after the local medieval town of Tunbridge (now spelt Tonbridge and four miles to the north) are located in an area known as the Pantiles. It has nothing to do with the architectural titles you find on roof tops. These were small square clay fired titles baked in special pans and laid on a walkway in front of the spring head. Unfortunately, they have now gone, but the name lingers on, much to the confusion of visitors and no doubt some residents of the town.

granville

I am hoping to film in the privately owned Pantiles area very soon and obtain an interview a Dipper (a lady in traditional dress who dishes out the water for tourists to taste) and record a conversation with the curator of the Tunbridge Wells museum about the fine Tunbridge Ware that became all the rage in 1700s.

Don’t forget, you can help make the Bald Explorer programmes happen by making a small donation via the special button on the right hand side of the website. The shows are completely self-funded for transmission on the Community Channel which is a not-for-profit TV station. If you do make a contribution, I will make sure you get to see a copy of the finished episode before it is broadcast. Thank you very much.

 

 

Taking the Waters: Preview

The Bald Explorer is back and the next production is under way (Autumn 2013). In this episode, ‘Taking the Waters’, Richard Vobes, aka the Bald Explorer is investigating the story of the spring water discovered at a spot near the medieval town of Tonbridge in Kent – later it was to become Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Richard wants to find out what makes the water so good, how it became popular and why is there today for visitors who are keen to make the excursions today.

This is a teaser video, partly filmed on the common near Royal Tunbridge Wells (www.twcommons.org) and at High Rocks, a popular tourist resort and wedding venue (www.highrocks.com). The full production will be available in early 2014 on the Community Channel (www.communitychannel.org).

Follow him on Twitter: @BaldExplorer or Richard Vobes @Vobes.

Crew: Producer/Presenter – Richard Vobes. Photography – Jason Reeve. Sound – Billy Lindsey.

Taking the Waters

Working has started on the next Bald Explorer episode. I shall be off to the Sussex and Kent border to taste the waters at the Georgian Spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. I am working with my new cameraman, Jason Reeve, who as it happens, conveniently lives in the same town.

Like my town visits programmes I want to get to the bottom of some of the quirky and unusual historic aspects of the town, as well as trying the Chalybeate spring water with its iron health-giving properties. The programme is to be broadcast on the Community Channel, probably in the new year (2014) along with other that I have planned.

One of the lesser known facts about Royal Tunbridge Wells is the deposits of sandstone all around the area. The Kentish Weald and Sussex Downland hills are more known for their clay and chalk, but there are some very unusual rocks to explore in the area.

If you would like to support the Bald Explorer in this non-profit venture and help fund the programmes, may I direct you to the Donate Button on the right of this website. If you donate, I will make sure you get a copy of the finished programme before it is transmitted on the TV. Anything you can spare would be most welcome. Thanks very much.

The Bald Explorer Kickstarter Project Video Update

Richard Vobes, aka, The Bald Explorer is running a project on the crowdfunding website, Kickstarter.com. The idea is to raise enough money to make a television programme about Britain’s hidden heritage. The series is already showing on the not-for-profit UK TV station, Community Channel.

In this video update, Richard informs his backers about the influences that gave him the idea for the programme and the appeal of visiting Britain’s unknown towns.

Bridgnorth, in Shropshire, is one such town that interests the Bald Explorer. There is the high town and low town, the River Severn, the castle, the market hall and the funicular. The heritage line, the Severn Valley Railway has one of its stations at Bridgnorth.

Crowdfunding is a way that supports can pool their contributions together to get projects funded. Even pledging a small amount can help.

Kickstarter Has Launched!

kickstarterDo you love British heritage? A TV documentary series that explores this nation’s greatest secrets.

The Kickstarter project had launched. The aim is to raise money for a new episode, which shall be broadcast on the Community Channel TV station and on Youtube.

Kickstarter Project

I am Richard Vobes, the Bald Explorer, and for the past three years I have been self-funding a series of films exploring Britain’s wonderful heritage. Community Channel, a not-for-profit digital TV station, has been broadcasting these programmes on their network which have now been enjoyed by thousands of viewers.

Following this success, it seems I now have an audience who would like some more. However, being a charity funded organisation Community Channel cannot commission me, and I do not have the funds to make these programmes myself anymore.

Log on to the Kickstarter website and find out more. There you can pledge money and explore our rewards for your support and backing.  Kickstarter Project

Rather than trying to fund the whole series in one go, we just want to raise enough money to make the first episode. If successful, it will be broadcast in the New Year on Community Channel and repeated many times thereafter – and your name could be on the credits!

And, of course, all of our Kickstarter producers will have advanced downloads of the episode the minute it pops out of the edit room!

The First Episode – Bridgnorth, Shropshire
The reason we have chosen Bridgnorth is simple; it is one of Britain’s gems. Tucked away in the Midlands, it is found next to Ironbridge; birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. It lies on the River Severn, above Worchester and below Shrewsbury, and is at one end of the Severn Valley Railway – which still offers a fantastic heritage steam service. There is more to it than that, of course. It has a unique funicular; a Victorian Cliff Railway, the steepest in Britain; a church designed by the great civil engineer Thomas Telford; a castle keep, which is currently tilting at a greater angle than the leaning tower of Pisa; cave dwellings, once the home of the poor; a hermitage; and was also the scene of dramatic skirmishes during the English Civil War.

Thanks very much for helping making this happen. Kickstarter Project