Monday, October 8, 2007

Roundhouse, Melksham, Wiltshire

This small surprise is tucked away in a side-street in the Wiltshire town of Melksham. It’s an 18th-century structure, built, Melksham being a wool town, as a wool-drying room. When the wool trade declined in the 19th century many such buildings were no doubt demolished. But this one survived, playing down the years a multitude of roles – armoury for the local volunteer militia, feed store, business premises, tourist information centre, and museum. England has many specialized structures like this, the often odd-shaped remnants of local industries – oast houses and lime kilns come to mind. Often they seem designed so precisely for their original function that adaptation appears impossible. But with a little imagination, many of them have been recycled to the delight both of their users and of passers-by.


Peter Ashley said...

This lovely building reminds me of the Chalford Round House on the Thames & Severn Canal in Gloucestershire, apparently reminiscent of Stroud Valley wool-drying stoves in the same county.

Hels said...

Absolutely. It reminded me immediately of the oast houses, usually destroyed but occasionally adapted to a modern use.

In Australia, developers destroy anything old (meaning from The First Fleet until World War 2), the minute it gets in their way. We don't have any medieval or renaissance architecture of course, so keeping 19th century architecture should be a national priority.

I should send your blog to the Minister for Planning.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you, Helen. It does seem to me that change of use is often a good way of saving an old building. A few years ago I was involved in writing books to accompany a television series that was made over here called RESTORATION. Each series featured about twenty 'buildings at risk'. Most were structures that had lost their original purpose (e.g. buildings that had housed an industry that was no longer functioning, or a school that had moved to more up-to-date premises, or whatever). It became clear that they had some hope of being saved if the owners could find a viable new use.

Paul Horne said...

My wife and i have just re-opened The Roundhouse in Church Street, Melksham. It is a wonderful little building! Downstairs my wife, Laura, runs a lush little shop called 'Love LooLoo'. She sells hand made items by herself and other local Wiltshire crafts persons, as well as vintage items selected for their beauty or nostalgic. Also, well sell some new items that compliment the look of the shop. Upstairs, I run my business, Paul Horne Photography.

We welcome evryone to take a look at the building. And if you like, you can buy from the gift shop or take a look at my work; family portraits, weddings and events and commercial photography!

Anonymous said...

The Chalfont roundhouse is one 5 Lengthsman's Houses on the Thames and Severn Canal between Lechlade on the Thames and Stroud. The other 4 are at Inglesham,Cerney Wick, Marston Meysey and Coates. All purpose built around 1789 and apart from the Coates, one which is derelict but being cared for, in good condition