Trowbridge U-turn as museum to stay in The Shires

Wiltshire Times: Trowbridge Museum curator Clare Lyall Trowbridge Museum curator Clare Lyall

Town councillors have had a change of heart over moving Trowbridge Museum and have voted to keep it at its current home in The Shires and expand to the upper floor.

The U-turn came after councillors were given a report from town clerk Lance Allan which suggested that expanding at The Shires would be ‘less risky and more sustainable’.

The museum was set to be moved to Courtfield House in Polebarn Road in 2016, after receiving a grant last year from the Arts Council.

However, the council decided at its meeting on May 20 that the museum should remain at The Shires and is pursuing the option of expanding to include the third floor.

Curator Clare Lyall said: “It’s the right decision. One of the advantages is that we are in a shopping centre and get lots of passing trade. It’s also one of the last working textile mills in the town.

“Upstairs you can get excellent views across the town and reference points to other mill buildings. I see it as a big benefit.

“At Courtfield House it wasn’t going to be a museum anymore, it was going to be more of an all-round visitor attraction. It’s going to be an exciting few years and a really positive move for the museum and Trowbridge.

“It is also a good opportunity to expand and enhance the story of the town’s industrial heritage.”

Mr Allan’s report added that the levels of investment, the nature of the proposed museum at Courtfield House and the reduced future relationship with the town council were risks, which were likely to be too great to commit to.

The museum, which has been in The Shires since 1990, has obtained an offer from the landlord of the shopping centre based upon a 25-year lease, subject to contract for both floors.

This will now enable the council to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund with a two-year timescale proposed for the delivery of the expanded museum.

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