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Trowbridge Town Council

Introduction to Trowbridge
The History of Trowbridge
Fascinating Facts about Trowbridge
Stunning Architecture
The Museum
Town Council Introduction
The Civic Hall
Trowbridge Information Centre
Trowbridge Special Events
Town Attractions
Retail in Trowbridge
Transforming Trowbridge
Trowbridge Twinning
Where to Stay in Trowbridge
Contacts and Useful Information
Our Advertisers


Contact Information

Trowbridge Town Council,
The Civic Centre,
St Stephens Place
BA14 8AH.

Tel: 01225 765 072
Fax: 01225 775 460

Email: Trowbridge Council
Trowbridge Website


The History of Trowbridge
Trowbridge town bsridge One thousand years ago Trowbridge was little more than a row of dwellings close to where an ancient ridgeway track crossed the River Biss at a convenient ford. The earliest known written record of the town can be found in the Domesday Book, (compiled in 1086, www.domesdaybook.co.uk).
Trowbridge’s name comes from the Anglo-Saxon words treow-brycg meaning tree and bridge.

The town’s castle was first mentioned in 1139 when it was besieged so it may well have been built as a reaction to the civil war which was raging between King Stephen and the Empress Maud. It was almost certainly of a motte-and-bailey type, this meant that the main body of the castle was on a raised mound and was enclosed by protective ditches and raised banks. The castle construction would have been of wood and earth. The town’s museum has a conjectural three dimensional model of the castle and a full-sized reconstruction to enable children to walk the ramparts!

Trowbridge Castle Although the castle has long gone its legacy remains within the shape of the town, the curving line of Fore Street from the Town Hall to the Town Bridge follows the course of the castle ditch, and its name has been passed on to Castle Street and Castle Place shopping centre. The name Wicker Hill, at the lowest part of Fore Street, comes from the name of the material used to reinforce the sides of the moat or ditch, which was wickerwork or hurdles. The centre of what was the castle stands where Trowbridge Museum is now located.

Excavations that were carried out on the site where the Shires shopping centre was built suggested that there was an important Saxon dwelling before the castle. Foundations of a very early church (dating from around 850) surrounded by a graveyard were also revealed. Ornate gravestones from the site can be seen in St James’s Church and Trowbridge Museum.

In about 1200, the lord of the manor of Trowbridge laid Excavations on the site of what was to be the Shires shopping centreout a borough on the site just outside the castle which included a market place and a new church. A charter to sanction the holding of a market on Tuesdays and an annual fair for the vigil/ feast of St James to be held on the 24th to the 26th July was one of the earliest ever to be recorded.

From the fourteenth century Trowbridge’s main industry was the production of cloth. There is a reference relating to this from 1306, when a Trowbridge man was hanged for stealing a length of cloth from a local mill! By the end of the fourteenth century Trowbridge was the most important centre of cloth production in West Wiltshire. The town’s importance is reflected in the fine timber-framed buildings that were built at the time. Examples of these can be seen at 2-3 and 55 and 57 Fore Street.

By the mid-seventeenth century, the town had developed an excellent reputation for the production of medley, a light cloth made of mainly Spanish wool, which was dyed beforeAn early nineteenth century print of the Parade buildings carding and spinning. The technique meant that a wide range of shades of colours could be created.

The end of the 18th century marked the transition from the production of cloth within weavers’ cottages to factories which initially used water and then progressed to steam. These improved methods of production led to greater prosperity and resulted in Trowbridge’s expansion. Number 64 Fore Street (now a bank) was built for a wealthy clothier, Thomas Cooper and number 68 Fore Street and the stunning eighteenth century buildings that form the Parade were built for the Houltons, a clothing family.

By the early nineteenth century the cloth trade began to fluctuate. However, by 1875 West Country cloth production was experiencing a decline as there was far greater competition from both mills in Yorkshire and the Scottish Borders. Trowbridge’s last working mill, Home Mills ceased trading in 1982. However, in July 1990 its second floor took on a new lease of life as Trowbridge Museum.One of Trowbridge's Mills

Although Trowbridge’s mills were no more other industries moved into the town including Chapmans bed and mattress makers, now Airsprung or existing industries expanded. Twenty first century industries that are now firmly rooted in the town include Virgin Mobile and the award winning Apetito.

Discover more about Trowbridge’s fascinating past and visit the town’s museum in the Shires Shopping Centre, www.trowbridgemuseum.co.uk.

Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this publication and the statements contained herein are believed to be correct, the publishers and promoters cannot accept responsibility for any inaccuracies. Reproduction of any part of this publication in any format, without permission, is strictly forbidden.