The story of Stothert & Pitt is a perfect example of the capacity of history to confound expectations. Bath is a city internationally renowned for its eighteenth-century architecture and its air of sophisticated elegance. The very fact that the city has an industrial heritage is surprise enough to most visitors (and some residents) but the existence of a large engineering business, which flourished for over 200 years and which, at its height, employed thousands, seems to many, encouraged to think of Bath simply as a holiday destination, hard to believe.Many of the physical remains of Stothert & Pitt's activities in Bath have disappeared and those that do remain, a few buildings and a bridge, are under threat of development or neglected. The history of the firm is overlooked. This is unfortunateas from the 1780s until the 1980s Stothert & Pitt played a major part in the working life of the city and made famous a range of equipment for the civil engineering, construction and transport industries which had a global market.
John Payne was born and educated in Bath, and worked briefly for Stothert & Pitt. He has previously published Journey up the Thames: William Morris and Modern England (2000) and Catalonia: History and Culture (2004). He is currently writing a volume on the West Country in Signal Books of Oxford's series 'Landscapes of the Imagination'.