Wiltshire Publications

Bid to raise awareness of town’s historic buildings

MEMBERSof Westbury Heritage Society are seeking to raise awareness of the town’s historic buildings, in the hope of ensuring the future of the town’s cultural heritage.

The recent demolition of the former Oak Inn on Warminster Road has highlighted the need for the town to keep an eye on its historic assets.  A last-minute attempt to have the building listed in order to save it failed, and the inn was demolished at the end of last year.

Westbury has a large number of listed and historic buildings such as the town’s Victorian swimming pool and the Laverton. However, the Heritage Society points out there are also a number of other buildings of historic interest that are less well-known.

Keith Miller of the Westbury Heritage Society says, “There are a huge number of listed buildings in Westbury, and there are also interesting buildings that are not listed – the primary example of that being the Oak. We are in the process of identifying and finding where listed buildings at risk are in Westbury, and putting that in a map so people can see which the significant buildings are. We think people will be surprised if they see how many are listed and are significant.”

Keith suggests that keeping an interest in historic buildings, as well as actively using them as local venues or to house local businesses, is the best way to ensure their future.

He said, “This is a very important issue. It’s to do with the cultural heritage of the town and the way the town is perceived by the people who are resident in it, and those who are passing through the town and looking at it from a tourist’s point of view. If you have a situation where people are engaging in their old buildings, then you increase the value of the town in people’s perceptions. If you do that, then the investment in the town, both cash and psychological, is increased.”

Keith is inviting those interested in the town’s heritage to join the Heritage Society. He would also like to hear from other local historians in the hope that a more concerted effort will increase the chances of saving buildings that may be at risk.

“There are a number of people in Westbury that are concerned about the heritage of the town and its historic buildings and what the future of these artefacts is likely to be,” he explained.  “However, it seems to us that these interested people are scattered and their efforts are therefore not very well focused – that’s not to say they’re not genuine or interested, but if there are half a dozen small groups of people interested in preserving the heritage, it would be better if co-ordinated or consolidated in some way.”

• If you would like to contact the Heritage Society or are interested in joining, please call into the Heritage Centre in Westbury High Street or call them on 01373 825 784, or call Keith Miller on 01373 864 166.

• Visitors are welcome to join the Heritage Society at their next meeting on Tuesday 29th January at 7.30pm at Westbury Methodist Church, Station Road. Subsequent meetings will be advertised in the White Horse News.

• Westbury Heritage Centre exhibits local artifacts with regularly changing exhibitions. It also provides tourist information and local information such as bus timetables. The centre is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Friday from 10.00am-4.00pm, Wednesdays from 10.00am-1.00pm, and Saturdays from 10.00am-1.00pm.