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Melksham Trust calls for Market Place arch to be restored

MELKSHAM Trust is calling for an arch to be returned to the Market Place to the site where it was before it was demolished in 1950. 

Richard Wiltshire, chairman of Melksham Trust has contacted Wiltshire Council requesting that as part of the Market Place campus development, an arch that was originally positioned to the left of the town hall, be restored. The arch was used as an entrance to the Assembly Hall and was removed in 1950 as part of the repositioning of the entrance to Melksham House when listed gate piers were also moved.

The trust’s proposal comes from a report compiled by Colin Davis Associates in 2006 which recommended the reinstatement of the arch to rebalance the Town Hall. At the time, the town council approved the report but the return of the arch failed to materialise.

However, Wiltshire Council’s principal engineer, Stephen Hind, said in a recent letter to Melksham Town Council that there is no funding available to reinstate the arch.

Richard Wiltshire said, “There is an opportunity to restore the arch to the listed Town Hall and also return the listed gate piers to where they were before 1950. However, Wiltshire Council are saying they do not have any funds to employ an architect to advise on the listed buildings such as the Town Hall and the Melksham House gate piers. This means the restoration of the arch would be down to the town council at a cost of about £20,000.

“It would be a great pity to miss this opportunity to enhance and restore the architectural balance of the Market Place buildings, at the same time achieving the required access to the new campus as the proposal meets entrance requirements for the campus.

“The pedestrian entrance through the arch to the Assembly Hall would also add to its setting, and the reinstatement of a sizable tree would screen the Assembly Hall shed roof and provide a walkway into the retained wooded garden of Melksham House.

“Wiltshire Council’s conservation officer, Helen Gardside, is supportive of the idea having been contacted by Colin Davis recently, but it comes down to funding.”

The gap in the current frontage is 11.9m. The arch proposed by the trust requires 4m, each pier is 0.75m, and the proposed access to the new Wiltshire Council campus is 6m – meaning the proposed arch and piers returned would require 11.5m.