Churchill Retirement Living has been working collaboratively with Chippenham Museum to preserve a distinctive piece of local heritage. The ‘Vauxhall’ iron railings that stood on the site of its new development at the former Causeway Garage in the heart of town has now been gifted to Chippenham Museum to conserve for the future.
Demolition work has begun to clear the way for 46 brand new retirement apartments at the site. Chippenham Town Council recommended that the Chippenham Museum should have first option on the railings once they had been removed, and the retirement housebuilder was very happy to oblige.
Many Chippenham residents will recognise the eye-catching iron railings from the former garage, which was built in the late 1960s and was for many years the premises of Cyril H Thomas, then later became Platinum Vauxhall. Perhaps less well known is that the iron railings, which have been part of the frontage since it was built, were hand-made by one of Chippenham’s last blacksmiths, Paul Magdocz. Mr Magdocz came here from Poland after the Second World War, and was a well-known member of the community for over 50 years. His skills were appreciated by many, and thanks to Churchill and the Museum, his work still lives on.
Mel Barnett (Chippenham Museum) & Kevin Sharp (Churchill) at the Churchill construction site in Chippenham
Presenting the railings to the museum’s curator Melissa Barnett on Friday 5th April, Churchill’s Pre-Commencement Contracts Manager Kevin Sharp said: “It’s a pleasure to be able to give something back to the local community by handing over these railings to Chippenham Museum. Construction of our new apartments will be getting under way shortly, and in the meantime we’re delighted to help preserve an interesting bit of local history for future generations to enjoy.”
Melissa Barnett added: “The railings are an important part of Chippenham’s heritage. Mr Magdocz’s skilled ironwork is appreciated by many and he and his family are remembered fondly in the town. We are really grateful to Churchill for enabling us to preserve the railings and to add the story to our town’s fascinating history.”
Cllr Teresa Hutton, Chair of the Amenities, Culture and Leisure Committee at Chippenham Town Council said;
“These railings are an iconic part of the heritage of our town and we are so pleased they will now be conserved by our Museum for others to enjoy.”