Saturday 3 October 2009

Wilfred Middlebrook

Wilfred Middlebrook
Author of The Changing Face Of Warminster

Wilfred Middlebrook, who hailed from Lancashire, came to Warminster in the early 1930s, to work at Brocklehurst’s silk factory at Pound Street. He was employed there as “a tackler” - a tackler being the name given to the person who oversaw the smooth running of approximately 50 looms. He is remembered by some of the former silk weavers as “a quiet, chapel-going man,” who was “very conscientious about his job at the silk factory but okay to work with,” and “you never saw him angry or heard him swear or anything like that.” Others recall that not only was he passionate about local history but he enjoyed going for walks. “He would walk miles and miles, even when he was in his eighties.”

Mr. Middlebrook resided at Christchurch Terrace, Warminster, but he and his wife Margaret later moved to 19 The Ridgeway, and finally to 3 Blackdown Close, Warminster. Margaret died, aged 87, at Warminster Hospital on 10 April 1981. Wilfred, who continued to reside at Blackdown Close, was often to be seen at jumble sales, buying jigsaw puzzles, which he did to pass the time during his final years. He died “peacefully” at Warminster Hospital on 8 December 1989, aged 89. His funeral, which took place at Bath Crematorium (so did Margaret’s) was not reported in the press, and apart from a simple notice in the deaths’ column of the local newspaper, there wasn’t any obituary for him.

Although he played no active part in the public life of Warminster, Wilfred Middlebrook, as previously mentioned, was very interested in local history. He often sent letters on the subject to the Warminster Journal. And he wrote three manuscripts that were never published in book form but they were serialised in newspapers. These were The Wylye Valley (serialised in the Warminster Journal in 1949 and 1950); the Highways and Byways In Warminster (serialised in the Wiltshire Times And News in 1960), and which was later revised as The Changing Face Of Warminster (serialised in the Warminster Journal in 1971).

Wilfred Middlebrook’s contributions to local history have, unfortunately, gone relatively unsung for many years. The publication of The Changing Face Of Warminster in book form, it is hoped, will go some way to recognising his endeavours.