Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
20 October 2017

Ken Loach is annoyed because his home town of Bath is “too clean”

The socialist director wants the city to be dirtier for his own aesthetic pleasure.

By media mole

Your mole, emerging from the burrow beneath Bath Spa having just sweated its whiskers out in the tepidarium, heard some enraging news.

Bath resident and socialist film director Ken Loach has made some critical comments of the Somerset city.

In an interview with the Guardian ahead of his lecture tonight for the Festival of the Future City Bath, Loach moaned that Bath is becoming – god forbid – “too clean”:

“Bath was dusty and a little shabby when we moved here. It did look its age and you felt its history in its streets and buildings and little alleyways. The sense of the past was palpable. There were some bad modern buildings but there was a patina of age.

“The problem now is that it has been sharpened up for the tourists. It’s too clean. It’s like an old person with Botox. You don’t get the same sense of the past. It’s too clean, too sharp.”

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Lamenting the “destructive” market forces leading to lots of hotels being built in the city, and the “grotesque” plan to expand the Rec rugby ground by 1,000 capacity, Loach advocated preserving “the city in a minimal way rather than try to make big architectural statements”. He complained that there is “too much imitation Georgian architecture”, but would also somehow like the city’s “homogeneity” not to be spoilt by an “eclectic mix” of building styles at the same time.

As the I, Daniel Blake director mentioned the city’s “poverty and gross inequality” and punishing property prices, your mole was a little surprised at his wish to keep the city “dusty”, “shabby” and without big developments or boosts to its tourist industry.

It sounds like he’s putting his aesthetic priorities ahead of the job prospects and quality of life that might – just might – be more important to the local people he describes than the precise level of atmospheric grit on the Georgian architecture.