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Trowbridge (Wiltshire)

Trowbridge shown within Wiltshire
Population 28,148[1]
OS grid reference ST8557
District West Wiltshire
Shire county Wiltshire
Region South West
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Police Wiltshire
Fire Wiltshire
Ambulance Great Western
European Parliament South West England
List of places: UKEnglandWiltshire

Coordinates: 51°19'00?N 2°13'00?W? / ?51.3167, -2.2167

Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire, England, situated on the River Biss in the west of the county, approximately 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Bath, Somerset. The origin of the name is uncertain; one source claims derivation from 'Tree Bridge', referring to the first bridge over the Biss,[2] while another source states that the true meaning is the bridge by Trowle, the name of a hamlet and a common to the west of the town.[3]

The Kennet and Avon canal runs to the north of Trowbridge and played a large part in the development of the town as it allowed coal to be transported from the Somerset coalfields. Trowbridge has a railway station on the Wessex Main Line. The civil parish of Trowbridge had a population of 28,148 according to the 2001 census, making it the largest town in the county, after the city of Salisbury.[1] Neighbouring towns and villages include Bradford on Avon, Westbury, Melksham, Devizes, Hilperton, Southwick and Semington.


[edit] History

[edit] Ancient history and the Domesday Book

There is evidence that the land on which Trowbridge is built was being farmed more than 3,000 years ago. In the 10th century there is clear evidence of Trowbridge's existence and in the Domesday Book the village of Straburg, as Trowbridge was then known, was recorded as having 100 residents.[2]

[edit] Castle

The first mention of Trowbridge Castle was in 1139 [4] while it was besieged - so it must have been built before this.

The castle is thought to have been a motte-and-bailey castle, and its influences can still be seen in the town today. Fore Street follows the path of the castle ditch, and its name is given to Castle Street and the Castle Place Shopping Centre.

[edit] Wool industry

From the 13th century onwards Trowbridge developed a clothing industry, increasingly becoming industrialised from the 17th century onwards. However increasing mechanisation was resisted by workers in traditional trades and there were riots in 1785, 1792 and in the era of luddism due to the introduction of the flying shuttle.[5] Nevertheless at one point in 1820 it was being described as the "Manchester of the West" as it had 15 factories, comparable to Northern industrial towns such as Rochdale.[6] The wool industry went into decline in the late 19th century and this decline continued throughout the 20th century — the last mill closed in 1982 and is now the home of Trowbridge Museum, dedicated to the history of the town and its former industry.[7]

[edit] 1800s to present

In its place a bedding industry developed, initially using wool cast off from the mills — the company now known as Airsprung Furniture Group PLC was started in the town in the 1870s. Food production also developed in the town when Abraham Bowyer started his business which eventually, as Bowyers, became one of the largest employers in the town, until closure in April 2008 was announced, with production moving to the Nottingham branch. The brewing company Ushers opened in Trowbridge in 1824 and developed the brewery in the town — this was finally shut in 2000 following several changes of ownership. Food production continues in the town, with Apetito. One of the oldest established businesses in Trowbridge is Knees Department Store (Est.1879), where the local family firm continues to serve Wiltshire's community from the centre of this county town.The largest employers in the town are Wiltshire Council, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile.

[edit] Architecture

Trowbridge Town Hall, as seen from Fore Street
Trowbridge Town Hall, as seen from Fore Street

There is much of architectural interest in Trowbridge, including many of the old buildings associated with the textile industry, and the Newtown conservation area, a protected zone of mostly Victorian houses. In the churchyard of St James one can see the memorial tombstone of Thomas Helliker. The Town Hall is in Market Street, opposite the entrance to the pedestrianised Fore Street. This "imposing building" (shown left) was presented to the residents of the town by a local businessman, Sir William Roger Brown, in 1889, to celebrate Queen Victoria's fiftieth year on the throne.[8] In 2007, it failed to be approved for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £45,000 after the previous year's Council Tax precept had been raised in anticipation of refurbishments being carried out.[9] It is currently used for military[10] and other inquests.[11]

[edit] Shopping and other facilities

The main traditional shopping focus is Fore Street, which has a wide variety of businesses, and there are also the Shires and Castle Place shopping centres. The newest names to the town's retail scene are Monsoon, M&S Food, Bodyshop and Costa as well as the well established names of H J Knee, H B Pitt and Walter Rose. The Civic Hall, a conference and entertainment venue is adjacent to the town park, where the tourist information kiosk can also be found.[12]

[edit] Local news

Several newspapers are produced and published in Trowbridge, the most popular being the Wiltshire Times.[13]

[edit] Entertainment and pubs

Trowbridge is part of the historic West Country Carnival circuit, and has also given its name to the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival. The Festival was originally held in the old stablehouse of The Lamb Inn public house on Mortimer Street in Trowbridge, and was founded by Alan Briars and Dave Newman, although the event is now held at Stowford Manor farm between Wingfield near Trowbridge and Farleigh Hungerford in Somerset.

Trowbridge Town F.C. is the local football club, based at North Bradley near Trowbridge. They are currently members of the Hellenic Football League Division One West.

The town is home to many pubs, several music venues, and two leisure centres. A local councillor once claimed that Trowbridge was "just like Ibiza", a comment which drew widespread surprise as this councillor had never been to Ibiza and many local residents suspected he had never been to Trowbridge either.

[edit] Trowbridge residents

Trowbridge has the highest population of Moroccans in the UK outside of London.[14]

Trowbridge was the birthplace of Sir Isaac Pitman, developer of the Pitman Shorthand system of shorthand writing.[15] He is remembered in the town through several memorial plaques, and his name has been taken by a pub in the town centre run by Wetherspoons.[16] Matthew Hutton (Archbishop of Canterbury) was the town's Rector from 1726 to 1730.[17] The poet George Crabbe held the same position from 1814 until his death in 1832.[18]

John Dyer was a Trowbridge born inventor and engineer whose most important invention was the rotary fulling machine in 1833. A version of the machine, developed for the local woollen industry, is still in use today.[19]

Sir William Cook KCB Kt FRS, born in Trowbridge on April 10, 1905, was involved with the development of the British nuclear bomb at Aldermaston in the 1950s, becoming the establishment's deputy director.[20]

Professional snooker player Stephen Lee's career developed whilst practising the game in a Trowbridge snooker club. Trevor Heeks, a past winner of the World Town Crier Championship, is also amongst its residents,[21] as is former world disco dance champion Clifton Coleman.[citation needed]

[edit] Other famous Trowbridge residents

[edit] Town redevelopment

Since 2002, there have been plans in place[22] to redevelop significant town centre sites.

In the early 1990s the supermarket chain Tesco changed location from their site at St Stephens Place to a site adjoining the A361 on County Way. The previous site has been dormant since being demolished some years ago, and has become notorious for its extremely large mound of crushed concrete and other remains, known locally as "Mount Crushmore". Redevelopment has since suffered through several delayed starts.[23] The plans for the site can be viewed by consulting an image made of them.[24]

Trowbridge residents have frequently voiced their desire for new facilities to be built on the site, with reference often made to Trowbridge's lack of a cinema. Developers Modus have now signed up to provide a Vue Cinema in the plan for the Waterside complex.[25] And in March 2008, an outline planning application for the proposed development was approved by West Wiltshire District Council, to include a new library, cinema, ten-pin bowling, hotel and restaurants.[26] In the same week, the Town Council supported plans for Waitrose Supermarkets to build a store on land at Cradle Bridge/County Way, currently containing a derelict factory, previously occupied by Peter Black Toiletries.[27]

The developer Parkridge is also about to commence construction of a new retail centre between the Shires and the railway station, bringing new names to the town.

The former Ushers brewery site has also been in the process of redevelopment for a number of years. A development of new apartments is underway by Newland Homes and a supermarket and further residential units is planned for the former bottling plant site.[28]

[edit] Town twinning

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. , a b Population: website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  2. , a b Origins of the name Trowbridge: website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  3. , Lewis, Harold (1978). The Church Rambler, Volume 2. Hamilton, Adams & Co., 199-226. 
  4. , First mention of Trowbridge Castle: Local Authority Publishing website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  5. , Machine-breaking in England and France during the Age of Revolution. Retrieved on 2008-03-16.
  6. , Economic History. Retrieved on 2008-03-16.
  7. , The Trowbridge Woollen Industry as Illustrated by the Stock Books of John and Thomas Clark, 1804-1824, John Clark & Thomas Clark & R. P. Beckinsale, Wiltshire Record Society/Biddles Ltd, 1973.
  8. , Architecture - Trowbridge Town Hall: Local Authority Publishing website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  9. , Town Hall refurbishment and lost Lottery funding: Swindon Advertiser newspaper article. Retrieved on February 7, 2008.
  10. , Town Hall used for military inquests: Wiltshire Times article. Retrieved on February 7, 2008.
  11. , Other inquests also at the Town Hall: The Independent newspaper article. Retrieved on February 7, 2008.
  12. , Shopping in Trowbridge: Trowbridge Community Website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  13. , Wiltshire Times local newspaper: Gazette and Herald website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  14. , Highest Moroccan population in UK: Wiltshire Times website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  15. , Sir Isaac Pitman, born in Trowbridge: NNDB website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  16. , The "Sir Isaac Pitman" pub (Wetherspoon's): website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  17. , Matthew Hutton, Archbishop of Canterbury, town's rector: Troweb website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  18. , George Crabbe, poet and rector of Trowbridge: Britain Unlimited website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  19. , John Dyer and the fulling machine: Trowbridge Museum website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  20. , Sir William Cook KCB Kt FRS, notable resident: Local Authority Publishing website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  21. , Trevor Heeks, champion town crier: DBE in Louisiana website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  22. , Redevelopment plans (since 2002): Transforming Trowbridge website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  23. , "Mount Crushmore", the remains of the former Tesco site at St Stephens Place: the Salisbury Journal website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  24. , St Stephens Place redevelopment plans: Duffy Group website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  25. , Plan for cinema in Trowbridge (Waterside development): West Wiltshire District Council website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  26. , "Go-ahead for Waterside project", County Hall East area, March 2008: Wiltshire Times website. Retrieved on March 8, 2008.
  27. , "Waitrose plans win backing", Cradle Bridge, March 2008: Wiltshire Times website. Retrieved on March 8, 2008.
  28. , Ushers Brewery site, proposed plans for redevelopment: Wiltshire Times website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.
  29. , a b c d Twin towns in Germany, France, Poland and Morocco: website. Retrieved on January 25, 2008.

[edit] External links

(Source: Wikipedia)
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