Agenda item

Heritage and Culture

To hear from the following on the work being done towards heritage and culture in the community:


·       Heather Perry – Conservation and Museums Advisory Service Manager

·       Ruth Butler – Heritage Education and Digital Engagement Officer


Ruth Butler, Heritage, Education and Digital Engagement Officer at Wiltshire Council, provided information about the Explore Wiltshire app, a new, free, easy to use location-aware app that featured information about historical landmarks, cultural sites and events that have helped to shape Wiltshire’s towns and villages. It included interactive maps, walking trails, hunts and challenges, plus photographs, audio and visual clips. She explained that the app would support the Wiltshire Towns Programme, aiming to increase the footfall in market towns. It was designed to allow town and parish councils, or local heritage organisations, to add their own trails and marketing messages. The officer highlighted that Melksham had a fantastic industrial heritage, including Cooper Tyres and Avon Rubber that could be included on the app.



·       The Area Board thanks the officer for her presentation and said that they would welcome the opportunity to register Melksham on the app.

·       The Chairman highlighted that Melksham had more listed buildings than Bradford on Avon.

·       The Area Board expressed regret that they had not been included in the first tranche of towns to be added to the app. It was clarified that the Market Town Team had drawn up the list of the first 10 towns and that local stakeholders, such as heritage groups, the town council and Area Board could contact them to join the app.

·       The Strategic Engagement and Partnerships Manager had been discussing Melksham being the next town to join the app with Wiltshire Council’s Heritage Services Manager and there was complete agreement that he should now express the Area Board’s wish for this to happen.

·       The Chairman of Melksham and District Historical Association, Paul Carter, said that his organisation would be keen to be involved.

·       Material that could potentially be included on the app about Melksham included information about Victorian philanthropist Rachel Fowler and Great War stories from the Melksham Remembers project. 

·       It was highlighted that Melksham Football Club were amongst the oldest in the Southern League and it might be possible to advertise Melksham Food and River Festival on the app. 



Heather Perry, Conservation and Museums Advisory Service Manager at Wiltshire Council, provided information about different ways in which Melksham could promote its heritage, including contributing to historic collections, or opening its own museum. She explained that there were 40 museums in Wiltshire, operating a variety of different operating models. Some museums were entirely volunteer run including Aldbourne Heritage Centre, which was based in a former public toilet. It was noted that there was an accreditation scheme to start collecting items and that her team were available to assist with issues such as governance, visitor experience and managing collections. 


The Chairman of Melksham and District Historical Association agreed that consideration should be given to the best way to display the town’s history. He reported that his association had first tried to set up a museum in 1962 and had made further attempts in the 1990s. It was also noted that the Melksham Hoard, a collection of Bronze Age artifacts were displayed in Devizes.