Wiltshire Publications

Issue 439 – Local historian retires from Heritage Society

IVAN Clark, one of the key figures in the documenting of the town’s past, has retired from the Westbury Heritage Society.

Ivan and his wife Rose were presented with a garden chair set by Westbury Heritage Society members at their AGM on Wednesday 24th July. “I think they must think I’m retiring to my back garden!” joked Ivan, who has been a member of the society for 16 years. Assuming the role of social secretary alongside Graham Miles who was chairman at the time, Ivan’s initial responsibilities for the society were arranging meetings and social events. Ivan succeeded Graham as chairman following his death 7 years ago.
The Heritage Society started life in the old mill across the road from where the Visitors’ centre is now but the owner decided to sell the mill, leaving the society homeless and forcing them to place their collection of artifacts in storage for seven years.
They started to look around for places to house and show off the artifacts, and when the site that now houses Westbury Visitors’ Centre became available, they managed to purchase the property with the help of several grants and heritage society savings (made up of membership from previous years).
Grants came from Wiltshire County Council, and grants totalling £37,000 from the Lottery awards and the Lottery Grant Foundation.
The society produced a DVD on the history of Westbury which they sold to the public to help fund the purchase.
The funds also helped to purchase two programmable touch-screens for the visitors’ centre, one of which is available to be lent out to schools or local organisations.
Ivan was born in Westbury and has lived and worked there most of his life. He started working at the Angel Mill in 1950 at the age of 15 before completing 3 years of national service. He then returned to the mill and was married in 1958.
He moved away from Westbury to work in Whitney near Oxford for a period before moving back to Melksham to work at the Avon factory as a tyre builder and eventually a shift manager. Ivan will continue his part -time job at the Trowbridge Museum, which he has held for 17 years.