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Last month whilst digging in the Market Place, contractors discovered two wells and tunnels which are thought to date back to the 1800s. Now, people in the town are calling for one of the historic wells to be made into a special point of interest in the Market Place.
There is no written history about the wells and caverns; however local historians believe the tunnel fed water to the wells from the natural spring at Melksham House.
The discovery has caused quite a stir in the town and people are asking for a replica well to be built. A concrete saddle has been built over the caverns and the wells have been capped to allow for a possible restoration at some point in the future.
Nigel Barnes from Nigel’s Taxis said, “A lot of people have strong opinions on this, but people do feel as though their opinions won’t be taken seriously.
“It wouldn’t hurt to have something there, whether it’s an ornamental pump or a board with pictures and the history – surely something could be done. It would be a nice point of interest in the town. But people need to show their enthusiasm – that’s when things get done.”
On Facebook, Lee Foxwell said, “This really needs to be kept, I do hope it will be. It’s amazing to think that was underground.”
Melksham Seniors chair Brian Warwick supports the idea. He said, “We need to seek the guidance of Wiltshire Council and English Heritage on its possible restoration. It will have a cost factor, but I believe that with more goodwill and as a community effort, we can achieve that by a positive public appeal. I will certainly seek the support of Melksham & District Seniors 55+ Forum, if the community support is forthcoming.”
People are being encouraged to go along to the town council meeting on Monday 7th August at the Town Hall, at 7pm, to voice their opinions and hear ideas on what can be done.
Whilst councillors understand the passion people feel for the history of the wells, questions about feasibility have been raised.
Mayor of Melksham, cllr Adrienne Westbrook said, “I understand that a lot of people are interested in the wells that were found whilst re-developing the Market Place and would like to see something built to replicate one of them. If people do feel very passionate about this happening, they really need to contact Wiltshire Council who are the developers of this site as there is very little that the town council can do within the small budget that we have.”
Speaking just after the discovery, Nick Brooks, construction manager at Ringway said, “We have unearthed two wells and tunnels whilst redeveloping the Market Place. We didn’t know that this was here, but we are taking every precaution to ensure it is safe before we continue paving. We will build a cap on each well and build a concrete saddle over the caverns.
“This is the first time I’ve come across this before and it has been a challenge, but we have a team of specialists who we have been working with.
“There has been a lot of interest from local people and it’s a part of the town’s history, but our main priority is to make it safe and secure.”