Chippenham is one of the West Country's most dynamic market towns with a population of over 40,000. The combination of the old and the new, the historic architectural gems, modern shopping centres and nearness to some of the country's greatest houses and historic villages, makes this town midway between Bath and Swindon an ideal location for living, working and visiting.
Are there hidden treasures from Chippenham’s WWI hospital in your attic?
Do you have memorabilia from Chippenham’s Unity and Loyalty hospital or a wartime story that has been passed down about your family during World War I?
Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre is asking residents to help with the search for wartime memorabilia from the town’s wartime hospital and to share any wartime stories.
The museum team has been working for the last three years collating items and stories for the major Unity and Loyalty exhibition which opens on November 5, 100 years to the day of the first wounded soldiers at the Red Cross hospital.
The hospital, set up in the Town and Neeld halls, treated 1,872 patients between 1915 and April 8 1919 when it closed. Only two military deaths were recorded, both from pneumonia, and four nurses died during the course of service.
Curator Melissa Barnett said: “We are asking people to look in attics, basements, stores, suitcases and drawers for anything relating to Chippenham in World War I and the Unity and Loyalty hospital."
The most recent find was a collection of regimental badges given to Unity and Loyalty nurse Ethel Crook by soldiers she looked after. Ethel was the nursing sister in charge of the auxiliary hospital.
The collection, which was presented to the museum by Ethel’s nephew, covers a large number of regiments from the Wiltshire Regiment to the Gordon Highlanders as well as some from Canada and Australia. It had been stored in an attic but Mr Crook offered to loan it to the museum after hearing about the exhibition.
Other memorabilia located includes a blanket used on the wards and an original hospital ward bed.
If you have an item or a story you would like to share for the exhibition contact the museum on 01249 705020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s free to visit Chippenham’s Museum and Heritage Centre
Residents and visitors are being reminded that entry to Chippenham’s popular museum and heritage centre is still free of charge.
Chippenham Town Council provides and runs the Market Place museum which attracts around 24,000 visitors a year with a further 14,000 using the education and outreach service.
Museums Association president David Fleming warned this week that council-funded museums and galleries across the UK were now considering scrapping free entry and re-introducing charging to offset budget pressures.
Cllr Sylvia Gibson, chairman of the council’s amenities, culture and leisure committee, said: “Chippenham’s museum and heritage centre is an excellent facility for the town and provides a high quality, much valued service that is used by thousands of people each year.
“The museum also works closely with our young residents through our schools outreach programme which provides a valuable educational service to the town’s children.
“The council is clear that it fully supports our museum and the wonderful service it provides, residents and visitors will continue to be able to visit free of charge.”
The government has pledged to protect free entry at national museums such as the British Museum, Tate and National Gallery which it funds directly but that promise does not cover council-funded venues.
Rail Disruption This Summer
New Neeld community and arts centre on its way
Refurbishment works are underway to transform Chippenham’s Grade II listed Neeld hall into an exciting new community and arts centre for the town.
Chippenham Town Council’s £626,000 improvement scheme will create the new Neeld centre in the heart of the town that will stage events including shows, concerts and community events. It will be known as Neeld community and arts centre.
The extensive scheme includes improvement works to the adjoining Town Hall to create a new customer service reception area and foyer for the Neeld.
Cllr Sylvia Gibson, chairman of the Amenities, Culture and Leisure committee said: “This is a major project for the town council and for Chippenham. It will provide the town with a superb community and arts centre and bring a varied programme of arts and culture to the town, something we have been working towards for some time. There is already strong interest in the centre and we are confident this new lease of life for the Neeld will create a wonderful venue in the heart of our town.”
The work is being carried out by regional construction company Beard working with Quattro Design Architects on the design and build project. The refurbishment includes installing retractable tiered seating. Capacity will range from 230 seated to around 500 standing.
The existing wooden floor of the main building will be sanded and sealed and the hall redecorated. The existing glass and main entrance doors will be updated and replaced with a glass infill panel and automated doors. Air-conditioning will be installed to ensure that the main hall can be used at full capacity throughout the year. Other works will include the construction of a new bar area.
The scheme is due for completion in October this year. Existing bookings from October will go ahead as scheduled and hall hire charges will be unchanged. Anyone interested in booking the Neeld or bringing a show or event can contact email@example.com or telephone 01249 446699.
The Neeld Hall, built in 1850, is an historic landmark that has always been an integral part of Chippenham. It was originally built as an extension to the Town Hall and housed the Cheese Market and the Corn Exchange. In World War I it was used as a military ward to nurse wounded soldiers before being modernised and transformed into the versatile community facility it is today.
Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre
Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre is celebrating £8,000 of heritage lottery funding to stage a major exhibition commemorating the town’s World War I hospital.
The exhibition opens on November 5, 100 years to the day of the first wounded soldiers arriving at the Red Cross hospital set up in the Chippenham’s Neeld and Town halls. The hospital treated 1,872 patients between 1915 and April 8 1919 when it closed. Only two military deaths were recorded, both from pneumonia, and four nurses died during the course of service.
The temporary war-time hospital was named Unity and Loyalty to mark the town’s motto on its shield and came to symbolise Chippenham’s efforts during the Great War. The Neeld became Loyalty ward with Unity ward housed alongside in the Town Hall.
The exhibition, which runs until the end of April next year, explores how townspeople spontaneously came together and acted to support the hospital and the compassion shown to injured soldiers, many from across the globe. It will focus on the civilian women and men who worked, volunteered and helped at the hospital. It will be staged in the Yelde Hall where displays and exhibits will recreate the Unity and Loyalty hospital.
The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will cover the cost of staging the exhibition, research and displays.
Cllr Sylvia Gibson, chairman of Chippenham Town Council’s Amenities, Culture and Leisure committee, said: “We are delighted to have secured this lottery funding for this important exhibition.
“A huge amount of work has already gone in to collating stories and memorabilia from the hospital.
“There are some fascinating and poignant stories that are coming to light about our town. We hope today’s residents will come and see the exhibition and help us commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Unity and Loyalty hospital that played such as important war-time role in the town.”
Museum curator Melissa Barnett said the team had been researching the exhibition for the past three years.
She said: “There have been many stories about the soldiers who fought but there has never been an exhibition on this hospital and its stories before.
“It will commemorate and honour all those civilians who came together to support the hospital and care for injured soldiers and patients during World War I. We will be focusing on the women’s lives and how the war shaped their day to day existence.
“We will also be exploring a rarely researched angle of the non-combatant men, such as ambulance drivers, caretakers and teenaged volunteers.”
Medieval Chippenham returned for a day of historic fun
More than 300 people stepped back into medieval Chippenham at a free medieval marvels open day on Saturday.
The event, at Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre on July 11, recreated what daily life would have been like in medieval Chippenham. It was part of the national Festival of Archaeology, which is in its 25th year.
Deputy mayor Terry Gibson opened the event which saw 316 through the doors enjoying activities which gave a real feel of what life would have been like in medieval Chippenham including the chance to get up close to hawks and see demonstrations of spinning.
Cllr Gibson said: “It was so good to see young children at the event and enjoying having a go at long bow archery and activities that were new to them and that they might otherwise not have come across.
“The owls and hawks were extremely popular and our younger visitors were particularly enthralled to be able to get up close to these beautiful birds of prey.”
Medieval life was brought to life by re-enactors who interpreted the past through performances and displays. Jean Harvest brought Chippenham historical figure Maud Heath back to life for the event. Spinner Liz McCarron-Heal demonstrated to visitors how medieval spinning would have produced cloth while museum staff dressed up to help evoke the look and atmosphere of medieval Chippenham.
Renowned historical blacksmith Hector Cole was at the event with his forge and Druids Field archers exhibited and demonstrated longbow archery. The museum’s Pastfinders club ran children’s activities and there was the chance to have guided tours of the town and Yelde Hall.
Chippenham War Memorial
Our £5,000 conservation scheme to renovate and repair Chippenham’s historic War Memorial has finished.
The work, which started on June 18, included replacing pieces of the stonework that had deteriorated and crumbled, carrying out cleaning and repairs and repointing crumbling mortar. The project was carried out on our behalf by Chippenham-based specialist stonemasons Howlett-Neal Masonry and Conservation.
The memorial, which is a listed structure, was unveiled on September 4 1921 to honour and commemorate those from the town who had died in World War I between 1914 and 1918. The construction had first been discussed in 1916 and several suggestions were considered before the design and location of the memorial was agreed.
The original memorial carries the names of 160 Chippenham men who died in World War I. Three extra panels were added after World War II and, since then, the names of service personnel who died in more recent conflicts such as the Falklands and Iraq have been added.
The memorial was last refurbished in 2006 when the three panels were amalgamated into a single one including all the names from 1939 to the present day.
Our temporary reception is up and running in the Town Hall lobby - you'll find us through the main doors from the High St. Our main phone line is operational again after a blip earlier today, you can call us on 01249 446699. Thank you for your patience and apologies for any inconvenience.
A350 Junction Improvements
Our First Roadshow
Good to meet so many of you at our first roadshow on Friday in the High Street and to hear your views and suggestions for our town. Our next meet the council event is on Saturday July 11 when the roadshow gazebo will be by the Buttercross in the Market Place between 10.30am and 3pm.
We look forward to meeting you then. Do come along and help us by joining in with our public consultation questionnaire – we want to know what you think and what matters to you.
Opening of ‘Wiltshire’s Story in 100 objects’ Exhibition
Left to right Amanda Loering , Project Officer; David Powell, Town Mayor and Melissa Barnett, Curator.
The Wiltshire’s Story in 100 Objects project, which is managed by the Wessex Museums Partnership and funded by Arts Council England, was opened at Chippenham Museum on 18 June and will run until 12 September.
It aims to shine a spotlight on the diverse and important collections that Wiltshire’s museums collect, care for and interpret, using 100 carefully selected objects to celebrate the rich history of the county from 10,000BC to the present day.
Town council road show rolls out in Chippenham
Chippenham Town Council is going on tour for the first time and we want to meet you!
Our new gazebo road show will be visiting each of the eight areas that make up the Chippenham parish over the next few months.
Councillors from each of the wards will be on the road show when it visits their respective area. This will be your chance to meet your town councillor/s who will be keen to hear what you have to say about where you live and about your town.
The first road show will be on Friday June 26 when the council tour gazebo will be in the High Street between 10am and 4pm. Ward councillors for the Hardens and England ward Bill Douglas, Terry Gibson and Robert Giles will be on the road show. Town Mayor David Powell will be holding a ‘meet the mayor’ session between 11am and 12pm.
The road show will also be at the family fun day on Saturday July 4 in John Coles Park between 12pm and 4pm.
On Saturday July 11 it will be at the Buttercross as part of the medieval marvels open day at our museum and heritage centre, between 10am and 4pm.
Council leader Desna Allen said: “We’re working hard to improve the quality of life in our town. We believe it is important that we work closely with residents and our communities which is why we’re going on tour.
“Engaging with our communities is a top priority so we’re getting out and about and inviting people to come and take part. Whether you live here, work here, run a business or organisation here, we want to hear from you.
“The road show is going to be visiting every area of Chippenham over the next few months. We hope people will take this opportunity not just to meet their town councillors but to learn more about what their town council does, the excellent services and facilities we provide.
“We know that local government can seem remote from the public and we want to change that. Chippenham Town Council is determined to be at the heart of the town which is why we’re going on tour. It’s a first for us and we’re looking forward to meeting lots of local people and hearing what they have to say.”
More dates will be added over the coming months. If you would like the road show to visit your area or have an event or activity that we could visit, please contact Sara Oliver on 01249 467706 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chippenham baron was joined by today's first citizen, town Mayor David Powell, at the colourful pageant in Salisbury this week to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.
Splash Pad - Parking
Visitors to the new Splashpad and John Coles Park are requested to walk or cycle, wherever possible, and to leave your car at home. Parking at the park is limited. We respectfully ask that you park considerately and do not block residents’ driveways and bear in mind that these are residential areas.
CHIPPENHAM’S youngsters have had some early summer fun when the town’s new £85,000 Splashpad opened this week.
Children began arriving in John Coles Park ahead of the 10am switch on on Bank Holiday Monday (May 25).The fun water facility, for children up to age of 12, is fully accessible for children with disabilities and mobility issues. Sprayers squirt water from the ground, from overhead devices and from side posts.
There has been huge interest in the Splashpad with more than 28,000 people accessing posts on Chippenham Town Council’s social media Facebook and Twitter feeds, and following the progress of the build online.
The Splashpad will be opened officially at the council’s family fun day in the park on Saturday July 4 alongside ChippFest 2015’s Rockinthe Park day.
Deputy Chief Executive Adrian Jones said: “The Splashpad is a great addition to the children’s facilities in John Coles Park. It’s been lovely to see children so excited and enthusiastic about it and having such a good time.
“We’ve been lucky with the weather this half term so the Splashpad has been busy every day. We’re now looking forward to a summer of fun for our younger residents and their families.”
The feature has been funded by £45,000 from the town council, a £5,000 grant from Chippenham Borough Lands Charity and £45,089 of external funding from S106 contributions from developers.
Town Mayor David Powell and Deputy Mayor Terry Gibson have been officially inaugurated and received their chains of office on Wednesday night.
Cllr Powell has chosen The Rise Trust for his official charity and his wife Gill as his mayoress. We wish both him and Cllr Gibson a good year.
New plans to re-develop Langley Park
Proposals for development at Langley Park in Chippenham have been presented to the town council.
The presentation was made to the council’s planning committee on May 14 by MAS rei, the new owners of the Langley Park site. The company bought the 58-acre site from previous owners Ashtenne in December last year.
The proposed development includes a business park, housing, retail provision and a hotel. A planning application has not yet been submitted.
The outline plans will now go out for public consultation. The consultation period will run until December. More information on how the public will be consulted will be provided by the developer shortly.
Councillor Peter Hutton, chairman of the planning committee, said: “The town council welcomes the opportunity to be involved. We support the public consultation and welcome the public being able to be involved and to make their comments known on the proposals for this important site in the town centre.”
Information on the public consultation will be posted on the council’s website and social media feeds when it is available from the company.
National Shred-It Recycling Campaign
We’re delighted to hear from the national Shred-It campaign that our shredding and recycling efforts saved 34 trees last year.
We recycle as much as possible across our offices and sites and we’re taking steps to reduce further the amount of paper we use.