History of Melksham

Welcome to Melksham

Melksham is a historic market town in Wiltshire.

Melksham was founded beside the Avon, where the river was shallow enough to be forded. Melksham Hundred extended to over 8,400 acres and included eight Mills, Water Meadows and Woodland.   Adjacent to Melksham was Blackmore and Chippenham Forest, a Royal Hunting Forest much favoured by the Normal Kings.   

Melksham became a centre of weaving. The white broadcloth that was manufactured was exported through London to France, Spain and even Russia. It started as a cottage industry with the weavers working in their own homes, but gradually as the processes were mechanised, the industry was concentrated in large Mills beside the Avon. The last working Mill in Melksham was the Matravers Mill which finally closed in 1888.   

In 1814 Melksham attempted to found a Spa to challenge the supremacy of Bath, but the enterprise was never successful. However, it left a few handsome Regency Houses in Spa Road as a memento. 

In the early 19th Century, a Canal was built from Semington to Chippenham and Calne which ran through Melksham, but by 1914 it had been abandoned.   Also in the 19th Century several industries were conceived in the Town including the Spencer Engineering Works in Beanacre Road and the Wiltshire United Dairies. In 1803 Charles Maggs founded a business producing ropes, mats and tarpaulins. Other industries included Sawtell’s feather purifying factory founded in 1892, Strattons Grocery business founded in 1828, Hurn Bros Timbers Mills and Avon Rubber, manufacturer of rubber tyres, etc.