A little bit of local appreciation for our Wiltshire hometown, which is often forgotten, being in the shadow of neighbouring Bradford-on Avon and the Grand Dame of them all, Bath, which is 10 miles away.
We’ve always found the history of Trowbridge quite fascinating and are members of an associated Facebook group, so when I heard about a historical walking tour of Trowbridge being offered by the local museum, we signed up.
There were about 20 of us on ‘A Stroll Through Trowbridge History’, meeting our guide David (who works at the Trowbridge Museum) outside the Shires Shopping Centre entrance. He gave us all radio/walkie talkies with earpieces and explained the process. This was so that we could adhere to social distancing. It worked really well, as we could all hear him clearly and ask questions if we wanted.
We moved to Fore Street and were told about the Saxons, the Romans, Trowbridge Castle and how Fore (and Back) Street got their names.
At this point (outside Starbucks) we were serenaded Pavarotti style by some locals. Note: This wasn’t a scheduled part of the tour 😊
Onwards to Church Walk and further details about St James’ Church and how local clothiers contributed to its upkeep.
David then showed us the best-preserved Medieval house in Trowbridge – now an estate agency. I must admit we were gobsmacked at this. I don’t know how many times we’ve walked passed this house and never realised!
We headed back into town and towards Wicker Hill, stopping at the Blind House which is a 2 celled windowless jail house on the Town Bridge.
Right next to this, just a little off the main road, is Trowbridge’s best kept secret: The Handle House. It’s a house with every second brick missing because it was used as an airing chamber to dry tools used in the weaving process.
Why is it special? Well, it’s one of last of its kind still standing in the UK!
David continued to point out old mills, factories and told us about Spinning Jennies, weaving and wool.
‘Trowbridge is a woollen town’, meaning its initial wealth and legacy was centred around the weaving industry.
Weavers’ houses were also pointed out as we walked along.
We then moved onto the topic of Trowbridge’s contribution to the war effort – because Spitfires were built here. David pointed out where some of the factories were in the town centre. The Town Hall built in 1887 – doubled up as admin headquarters for armed forces during World War 2.
Overall, some fascinating stories told during the walk: the Italian telescope maker, the specialist gunsmith who produced a set of pistols that are on display in the museum, local scuffles on Trowle Common…..so interesting!
I must say that the walking tour did open our eyes to the industrial heritage of Trowbridge that we didn’t realise existed.
Next step is to visit the newly re-furbished Trowbridge Museum. Worth a visit if you are in the area. Here is the website: Home – Trowbridge Museum to prebook a timed entry.
Try to get onto the walking tour if the museum is running it. It is just little over an hour in duration, running in the evenings from 6 pm and costs £4 per person, and it’s an hour well spent! Very informative and well run.
It will give you a new perspective of the town once viewed as the Manchester of the South that is trying to re-discover itself.