Find out about what we have been doing recently and learn about some of our discoveries. 

WBR Newsletters – ‘A View from the Rafters’

We’ve been looking through our WBR newsletter archive and thought our members and the wider public would be interested in some of the discoveries and insights we’ve made over the years. The articles are drawn from our quarterly newsletters produced since 1979.

1st edition ‘Rafters’ newsletter July 2020  Click here
2nd edition ‘Rafters’ newsletter December 2020  Click here

James Rowland and Sons, Ironfounders and Engineers of Salisbury

WBR member Peter Filtness’ fascinating book is available through Wiltshire Libraries. It tells the story of James Rowland, mechanical engineer, ironfounder, inventor, entrepreneur and businessman. The story is a rich mix of Salisbury local history and family history. The engineering business lasted three generations from c.1840 to 1940. The reader will see how new engineering technologies of the Victorian and Edwardian ages were applied in Salisbury.  PDF version of illustrated text Click here  jacket Click here

Take a Virtual Tour with Alan Soldat

WBR member Alan Soldat has produced some slideshows for West Wilts U3A Architecture Group giving a tour of  Wiltshire towns Melksham, Calne and Westbury. The 3 talks, which last between 10-20 minutes, are in the form of a heritage walk around town, drawing attention to some of its historic buildings. He would be pleased to receive comments, especially if you spot any errors.  Click on the links below to view on his YouTube channel.

For Melksham click here               For Calne click here             For Westbury click here

New Student Membership
Students can now join WBR at a reduced annual fee of £5.  Open to anyone undertaking full or part-time courses.  Students can find opportunities with WBR to be very rewarding.  Please encourage anyone you know who is interested to get in touch for a dedicated student membership form.

Wiltshire Almshouses and their Founders by Sally Thomson, £10.50

Now available is Sally Thomson’s fascinating book on the history of Almshouses in Wiltshire. The first comprehensive study of Almshouses in the county. Many of these buildings display fabulous architecture, and some have very early origins. 248 page book is well researched, packed with information and has 250 beautiful illustrations. The stories of their charitable founders are a treat. click here for a copy. See publications page for more WBR books.

Celebrity: Dan Cruickshank
On the 11th December TV presenter and art historian Dan Cruickshank came to the History Centre to give a talk on Avebury and South Wraxall Manors.  Dorothy Treasure did the initial study on Avebury Manor when the National Trust first purchased it in the mid-90s.  She had a lively exchange of views with Dan on the day.

Farm buildings volunteers
We are looking for volunteers to join our team who are making a record of Wiltshire’s historic farm buildings. You can find out more details about the Farmstead Project here. For further information contact Tim Mayhew on email: wbrfarms.south@gmail.com

Dated Features Project
Do you like taking photos?  Why not get involved in our new project recording date stones and other dated features?  To find out more about the project click here.

Hot off the Press!

We are thrilled about our latest book ‘Wiltshire Gate Lodges – a Guide and Gazetteer’ by James Holden . Wiltshire is blessed with 300 plus attractive gate lodges, many of which have been little studied to date.  Find out more about these architectural gems, the country houses they served and gain an insight into the lives of the gate keepers who lived in them.  Packed full with illustrations.  Click here for a copy or see our Publications page for more information.

New Lifetime Membership
Becoming a Lifetime member is satisfying way to make a substantial difference to WBR resources. We urge you to give it serious consideration. Your extra support will be warmly received.

Enriching the List
WBR has been invited by Historic England to take part in an exciting new initiative to help make the online list of listed buildings more up to date and relevant.  In recent weeks WBR volunteers have been searching through our archives looking for interesting historical facts about Wiltshire’s listed buildings to upload on to Historic England’s Enrich the List website.  Volunteer Kylie Coles told us, “I’ve loved working on this.  It’s been absolutely fascinating delving into WBR records and discovering so much detail about individual buildings.  I never knew we had collected so much diverse material over the years: it’s staggering, and this project has provided a great opportunity to share it.”  To learn more about Enrich the List and find out how you might be able to make your own contribution click here.

The Intriguing History of ‘The Compleat Artist’
An unusual, quaint former Art Shop with fascinating history and a wealth of architectural detail sits by the bridge on Crane Street, Salisbury. The building had a dual role as both a summer house and a bridge to an island in the River Avon. The full story, by WBR historian Louise Purdy, has just been published in the Sarum Chronicle 17. Click here

Park and Garden Surveys in Wiltshire
We have become custodians of the records of The Wiltshire Gardens Trust (WGT). Material is held alongside ours, available to view. WGT members have been researching and recording gardens for their design and planting since 1986. Records contain park and garden surveys as well as all kinds of information relating to a building’s site. To find out about a specific garden, please contact us or the WGT.

Drop in to see us at Beechcroft Community Library, Swindon
We have acquired a table display at Beechcroft Community Library in Stratton St Margaret where we will be providing information and selling books, most at discounted prices. Sales proceeds are divided between WBR and the new community facility run by volunteers. WBR specialist draughtsman Clive Carter will be available most Tuesdays. He will be delighted to see you.  If you have any questions about Wiltshire or Swindon buildings and cannot make it to the Chippenham office pop in.