Thursday 26 January 1989

Changes In Warminster During The Last 30 Years


Local historian Danny Howell told members of Warminster's Young Farmers' Club about the changes in Warminster during the last 30 years, at their meeting last Thursday, held in the upstairs room of Dewey House.
The meeting, the second for the Club this year, commenced with a business session, before Michelle Garros-Williams introduced their guest speaker, Danny Howell.

With slides, Danny showed some places have changed out of all recognition, with green fields replaced by residential development. Daniel Crest, Wylye Road, the Downlands, and Ashley Coombe, are just a few of the housing estates that have been built in Warminster since 1968.

In the town centre, the majority of the business premises have seen various trades come and go. The National Provincial Bank, on the south side of the Market Place, opposite Station Road, was built in the 1920s on the former site of Walter Knight's clock, watch and jewellery shop.

The National Provincial Bank merged with the Westminster Bank (a building now occupied by the Kwiksave Hot Bread Shop on the opposite side of the street) in 1970 to form the National Westminster Bank.

One or two once-familiar landmarks have disappeared in recent years. For instance, the old Silk Factory chimney at Beech Avenue, demolished in January 1988.

At the turn of the century the looms at the Silk Factory were powered by steam, and the chimney, which was 60 feet high and comprised of 100,000 bricks, took the spent steam out of the factory.

Another feature of old Warminster, now gone but not forgotten, was the Agricultural Clock, which was fixed to the south-facing front of Chambers' clock and watch-repairing premises (later Chas. Hart, Jewellers, but now Delights). This faced Weymouth Street and was supposedly made for the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851. The huge clock face was surrounded by a carving of a cow's head, complete with horns, plus bunches of grapes and other produce.

During the 1960s and 70s the amount of traffic passing through Warminster increased, and the slides showed the times when there were no permanent traffic lights, little in the way of parking restrictions, and the Central Car Park and the Western Car Park did not exist.

The recently-opened Warminster Bypass, possibly one of the biggest changes in the local landscape, should see the removal of the traffic congestion in the town centre and a return to the not-so-hectic street scenes depicted in Mr. Howell's slides.
A vote of thanks for a very interesting talk was given by Andrew Gorman.

Forthcoming events for Warminster Young Farmers' include basketball, a talk on Czechoslavia, ice-skating, and a visit to the Old Brewery at Oakhill. Next month sees the final of the Debating Contest at Calne, and the Young Farmers' Club Challenge Quiz at Melksham.

Report by Michelle Garros-Williams.