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Explore Melksham on the animal safari Trail!

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MELKSHAM’S first topiary animal trail starts this week as the town council announces that six ‘green turf’ covered animals are set to arrive.  The council says, “The animals, that you would be more likely to find on an African safari, will be dotted around the centre of town to create a 3km loop covering green spaces, riverside pathway and some of the most architecturally impressive parts of the town. 

“Starting at the Market Place, outside the Town Hall, intrepid animal scouts will be encouraged to set off towards the centre of town, via historic side-streets, King George V Park, the Avonside river path, Conigre Mead and finally, through beautiful St Michael’s churchyard.  Along the way, you will be able to spot a warthog, giraffe, rhino, lion, zebra and a baby elephant.  Each animal will have a fun fact and a letter attached to it.  The six letters will form a secret word.”

The new temporary animals, along with the green space which has been created in the Market Place and lamp post banners along the town boundaries, have been made possible by a £10,000 grant allocated to Melksham by Wiltshire Council, which came from the government’s ‘welcome back fund.’ 

The town council continued, “The animal trail forms part of the welcome back fund, delivered in conjunction with City Dressing, an urban decoration company which specialises in temporary installations to help encourage and facilitate residents and visitors to re-engage with their town centres.  The grant, which aims to help local economies bounce back after Covid, stipulates that the funds must be spent on ‘temporary installations.’ This detail came under fire from some councillors when it was debated at full council on 20th June, specifically because of the impermanence of the attractions.”  

Jeff Mills, communications officer at Melksham Town Council explained to Melksham News, “The welcome back fund clearly states that the installations cannot be permanent, but we are keeping some of the fixtures and fittings which we can use in the future.  For example, we will be retaining 12 bespoke lamppost banners, including all fixings, which will promote different things in the town.  It was a no-brainer to get behind it, as the Animal Trail in particular is bound to be a hit with our younger residents.

“We are aware of the concerns expressed within the community about the use of artificial grass in the attractions, including the safari animals.  Officers approached City Dressing about this and we were assured by their representative that they are committed to environmental sustainability and the reuse or repurposing of their materials in general, and the artificial grass in particular.”

“We encourage everyone to get out and about and enjoy the trail!”


description of the trail

• Starting at the Market Place, outside the Town Hall, intrepid animal scouts are encouraged to set off towards the centre of town, passing the mini pop-up park, and the ancient Kings Arms public house.  Turning left onto Church Street, you will pass the stunning historic quarter of the town along Cannon Square and down Church Walk (to your right).  Cross at the pedestrian crossing and nip up Union St before taking a quick left towards the Ebenezer Baptist Church.  Don’t worry – you’re close to your first animal!  Follow the little alleyway past the church and you will cross Clacker’s Brook into King George V Playing Fields.  Head up the hill along the righthand pathway and make your way up towards the Cricket Pavilion where you’ll turn left alongside the splashed and play area (Animal 1) before turning right at the Adventure Centre.  Head over the little bridge and follow the path all the way until there is a T-junction.  

• Turn left and head across the green bridge and to the end of the pathway at the base of Scotland Road (Animal 2).  

• Turn back on yourself and retrace your steps to the Adventure Centre.  Continue along the river until you are almost at Bath Road.  Take a look down into Queen Mary Garden (little walled garden, alongside the car entrance to Bath Road carpark.)  (Animal 3).  

• Turn right up the hill towards the bridge and cross at the zebra crossing turning left and then quickly right to rejoin the riverside path (Animal 4).  

• You are now back alongside the great River Avon and soon you will enter Conigre Mead Nature Reserve, through the gate.  Take the second path on your left, heading up towards the cemetery.  Continue uphill into the upper part of the cemetery and head to your left, so you enter the back cemetery of the churchyard (the one with the massive, beautiful trees across the street from the main churchyard).  Head up and cross into St Michael’s and walk around the church to your right and aim for the path heading to the back corner gate to your right (Animal 5).  

• Go through the gate and turn left pass the bowls club to towards the brick wall in the distance, and turn left until you hit Place Road.  Turn Right and carry on until you rejoin the High Street.  Turn right to return to the Market Place to complete the 3km trail!  Oh wait…don’t forget to look on the far side of the Town Hall, by the Campus entrance to find Animal 6, and work out the secret word! 

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