|From:||London Road (ST751656)|
|To:||Churchill (Southgate) Bridge (ST750643)|
|Distance:||0.4 miles (0.6 km)|
|Route outline (key)|
Starting with a mini roundabout where the A4 London Road splits into London Street and Roman Road, the A3039 heads south down the former, which quickly becomes Walcot Street. Walcot Street is an interesting place; for many years plagued by threats of wholesale demolition to make way for the proposed Bath Tunnel, it became an eclectic and artistic haven, thanks to low rents, in the otherwise high class environment of the City of Bath. This has now been developed to form an artisan quarter.
Like the near parallel A4 Roman Road, Walcot Street owes its origins to the Romans, It is believed that this may have been the original Fosse Way Roman Road out of the City of Aquae Sulis, the upper route now known as Roman Road being built to avoid flooding by the Avon, but it is unlikely if it will ever be proven. Walcot Street is definitely a Roman Road, however, and the surrounding area was home of the Vicus, the civilian settlement providing crafts and services to the Roman City - an Artisan quarter nearly 2000 years ago!
The area has lost a lot of its rundown look in recent years, but the shops still offer an eclectic mix as we head south beneath the high walls of the Paragon high above on the right. After passing the old Tram Shed in Beehive Yard on the left, the road opens out with the Cattle Market Car Park on the left stretching down to the riverside. Beyond lies the Hilton Hotel, and then the Podium Shopping Centre, all that was ever built of the redevelopment planned around the new Tunnel, whose portals would have been near here. Indeed, the Podium was just a podium for many years until it was finally completed.
Opposite the Hilton is Saracen Street, which leads up to Broad Street, a spur of the A4, and forms an arm of a one-way system which sees the southern end of Walcot Street open for southbound traffic only. At the end of Walcot Street, we pass St Michael's Church, and the majority of traffic has to turn back up Broad Street. This is because ahead is Northgate Street, site of the notorious Bath Bus Gate. With controversy surrounding the Bus Gate since instillation in c. 2001, it is now a simple Bus Lane operating from 10am-6pm 7 days a week, but the council seem to be revising the signage regularly to try and make it clear!
At the other end of Northgate Street, the A3039 splits around the one-way system around the Guildhall. Again, this is effectively a turning point for traffic to retrace its steps, with both Northgate Street and Pultney Bridge closed to most through traffic. The eastern flank of the one-way system is the Grand Parade, a street lifted high above the River Avon on elegant arcades accessible from the Parade Gardens on the riverbank. The one-way system also passes through Orange Grove, outside Bath Abbey, before heading south down Pierrepoint Street. This leads to Manvers Street and the Railway Station, although a left turn will take you across the River to the A36 on North Parade Bridge.
For many years there was another one-way system at the Station, with traffic circling around the city Bus Station. However, with the redevelopment of the Southgate Centre, this has been removed (to make way for Debenhams!), and so traffic now turns right at traffic lights in front of the station into Dorchester Street, terminating at the far end on the A367 within sight of Churchill Bridge.