Cultural quarter plan for Trowbridge

Monday, 13th August 2012

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A new cultural quarter is to be created in Trowbridge, with the town’s museum relocating.

The Town Park is expected to become the backdrop to the museum, a new arts centre at the Town Hall, the £5m Civic Centre and a cinema and hotel complex at the neighbouring St Stephen’s Place.

The closure of the private Roundstone Preparatory School, which backs on to the park from Roundstone Street, has prompted a potential takeover of the building, known as Courtfield House, by Trowbridge Museum.

The museum is currently housed in The Shires shopping centre, where its lease is coming to an end.

Museum curator Clare Lyall said: “The location will form part of Trowbridge’s new Cultural Quarter, based around the Town Park.

“We want to highlight Trowbridge’s nationally important collection of items relating to the woollen cloth industry.

“Unlike many museums with industrial machinery, we still have the skills to operate our two looms and will be able to run them more often in the new premises, as well as improve their display and interpretation.”

Plans for the building include using the wool store for the collection of machinery. The working display will include one of only five Spinning Jennies left in the world. It is on loan from the Science Museum, but was originally from the town.

The gardens will feature sculpture and host outdoor events for families, while the former Aplins chemists shop will be recreated and children will be able to step into a Victorian classroom.

There will also be new exhibits charting the cultural history of minority groups in the town.

The scheme will cost more than £1m and museum bosses are applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund in the hope of securing the funds and completing the move before the end of 2014, when the lease on the current space at The Shires comes to an end.

The museum’s relocation comes as a new group set up to transform Trowbridge Town Hall into a major arts centre is steaming ahead with its proposals.

It is preparing a report, due to be submitted to Wiltshire Council in September, outlining a financial plan for the takeover of the building.

If the council is happy, the group will have 12 months to secure funding for the transformation project.

Legal and General Property has also started work on developing the St Stephen’s Place site into a complex featuring an Odeon multi-screen cinema, a Premier Inn and restaurants, which is aiming to be open in autumn 2013.

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