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Where there’s a well, there’s a way! Plans launched to save the well

One of the wells

PLANS are under way to commemorate the historic well in the Market Place.

The Melksham community and the town council have joined forces to form a committee to look into how money can be raised to commemorate the historic well which was uncovered during the work to redevelop the Market Place. Although the well was known to exist, a second well and a tunnel were also discovered during the work and now public support has grown for a permanent feature.

Both wells have been capped, with black plastic tubing placed inside the shafts to protect and preserve the ancient brickwork. The tubing and the caps can be removed at any point if a feature is to be installed.

A group of Melksham locals used last week’s town council asset management meeting as an opportunity to offer a solution as to how the well can be saved.

Local man Derek Weston said, “I know from Facebook and the customers I talk to in the shop that I work in that the wells are considered to be part of Melksham’s heritage. Can I say that we organise ourselves and get together a committee, and the councillors meet with us to form a working party.”

Derek’s idea was met with a round of applause from the locals and the councillors gathered at the meeting.

“That’s a very good way forward. That’s a great idea,” said Mayor of Melksham, cllr Adrienne Westbrook.

In agreement, Melksham Seniors chair Brian Warwick said, “This is a good opportunity for the community to come together on this particular issue, with the council, to move this forward and make better use of the well.

“We need to put together a structure that might help with fundraising for the well. What I feel very strongly about is that it shouldn’t just fall to this council, you don’t have the resources and you haven’t got the input that a whole community can put into it.”

Residents interested in being part of the talks were asked to submit their contact details, with a meeting to be scheduled in the next couple of weeks.

At the council meeting cllr Westbrook revealed that she too had come to the meeting with the same idea to host a formal meeting to focus solely on the issue of the well. “What I am suggesting is that as mayor I host and facilitate a meeting where we can get a group of residents together who are interested in moving forward and looking at a way of working with Wiltshire Council and try to find a way forward.

“We need to have an initial proper meeting, not just a faction of an asset management meeting. As mayor I am happy to host that meeting and some of the councillors will come as well. We need to have a really sensible discussion with a group of residents who really want to move this forward.

“It’s way outside the town council’s league in way of financing. But we can help be the catalyst that helps move this forward. Or help with where to apply for grants and help with dealing with Wiltshire Council.”

Questions were raised as to why original plans for a water feature in the Market Place were dropped. In response cllr Westbrook said, “In about 2013 there were plans, but they went out of the plans very quickly because it had a cost of £80,000 attached to it. So it was dismissed on cost basis.

“That doesn’t say a group like yourselves can’t raise that amount of money. What Wiltshire Council are saying is that they didn’t have that amount of money for a feature that isn’t an important structure.”

In anticipation for the upcoming meeting, excited locals started to throw their ideas into the ring as to how the well could be commemorated with suggestions like a glass cover on the well and lights in the wall of the shaft.

“There have also been ideas like a obelisk,” said cllr Westbrook.

It isn’t a working well, that is clear, but there is beautiful architectural heritage.

“Your ideas really excite me and that’s why we need people like you who are passionate to come to the meeting.”

A meeting will be held at the end of August with representatives from Wiltshire Council in attendance. Further details will be released via the town council website and on Facebook. Anyone from Melksham interested in coming is welcome.