Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Wallace and Gromit in Bath
When I was at junior school one afternoon a week we had "art" and sometimes  this did not involve powder paints and sugar paper. On the rare forays into the third dimension Miss Howe produced packets of corrugated Plasticine in various colours accompanied by orange sticks and other implements.  At the end of the "lesson" the Plasticine would end up all rolled together producing something similar to  a Sorbo rubber ball.  
Whether Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, underwent a similar introduction to Plasticine I do not know: His accomplishments would suggest that he may have been a little more creative in his youth than I. After a day of making films like The Wrong Trousers does he, I wonder, also end up with a giant amorphous lump of dull purple Plasticine and, if so, what on earth does he do with it?
Plasticine was invented by a bath art teacher, William Harbutt, as a modelling medium for his students which would not dry out. (the clay, not the students).
He was granted a patent in 1899 and started production in 1900.  

The original factory was in Bathampton, near the Kennet & Avon Canal.  This was destroyed by fire in 1863 but was rebuilt. Since the demise of the Harbutt company the factory has been replaced by housing.  The street is named Harbutts in commemoration of the man without whom Wallace & Gromit would not have been possible.

 William Harbutt's house in Alfred StreetBath has a fine example of an overthrow which I believe is original. This is the iron frame which held lanterns before the days of street lighting. At this time house owners were also responsible for the pavement in front of their property and this was often used by the owners to declare their wealth or status.  This particular overthrow has snuffers on the upright members. These would have been used by the lamp boys who preceded the sedan chairs lighting their way.  Sedan chairs would have been carried in through the front door to deposit their passenger in the clean and dry.

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