MELKSHAM is an ‘undiscovered urban historical gem’ with a great history that ought to be celebrated. That’s the view of local councillor Jonathon Seed.
He says the town has superb buildings with more listed buildings than Bradford-on-Avon and he wants to promote Melksham’s cultural heritage.
Cllr Seed has taken on the role of lead councillor for culture on the Melksham Area Board and following his appointment, Melksham News asked him to share his plans.
“I took on the role because I feel that Melksham and the surrounding area has a very rich heritage and that the town itself is steeped in cultural history, superb buildings and there is a growing interest in this aspect of our life,” he said.
“The town of Melksham is, in my opinion, an undiscovered urban historical gem. It has a great history as a town originally built on its dairy industry due to the rich grass grown in the Avon Valley for cattle fodder. The basis of the town name is Mulk (or Milk) Sham which is why the town is called Melksham. This is even reflected in the name of the newest pub in the area being called the Milk Churn!
“The Industrial Revolution changed much of the town and as new industry appeared new and aesthetically pleasing houses were built in and around Melksham. This has made Melksham an architecturally important town and let us not forget that Melksham has more listed buildings than the often-feted town of Bradford-on-Avon!
“In the surrounding area, too, there is such a strong historical connection to the town together with important historical development aspects linked to Melksham. All the big houses along the Main Street in Seend, for instance, were built by wool merchants and Seend has always looked to Melksham as its town.
“Steeple Ashton had two Royal Charters in medieval times and was one of the richest sheep and wool trading centres in the region hundreds of years ago. The Civil War hit the area hard with Devizes being under constant siege and Cromwell stabling horses in the church at Steeple Ashton.
“I am keen to promote the cultural heritage of Melksham and I see this as an opportunity and not a simple issue-solving activity. I initiated the heritage theme for the September area board on Tuesday 12th September in the Campus because I feel that we need to promote and celebrate our local culture and heritage.
“The evening included a short heritage walk around the town conducted by local heritage enthusiasts and short talks on local conservation, local museums, heritage education and digital heritage engagement.
“I think that it is important that local politicians promote what is good about our local community and we have so much in this category in Melksham. We need to be conscious of contemporary issues like the cost-of-living crisis when we promote our culture and heritage and make these aspects of our community life as accessible as possible.
Melksham House revamp
“I think that local politicians are trying their best to balance the preservation of heritage aspects of the town and area alongside financial constraints. To this end, it is great to see Melksham House revamped and with a new offering within the community and there was a presentation on this at the September area board.
“The future of the Assembly Hall, owned by and run by the town council, is less certain but there is a determination to preserve and improve the town hall offering.
“I have a degree in history and so have a real interest in the historical aspects of our community life. Latterly it is great to see a real divergence and wider perspective to local cultural life and our heritage with an ever growing and more diverse population.
“In summary, I am pleased that local politicians are recognising the importance of or cultural heritage and the September Area Board is a great example of this.”