LCHM: Our Local History

24 May 2019

We hope you have been keeping up with Local Community History Month this May and getting involved in some local history yourselves! (Our heritage blog would be a great place to start if interested!) I’m currently sat here flicking through Local History News magazine and thought it would be a fantastic idea to share some local community history with you.

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” – Marcus Garvey

As you know, our head office is based in Calne, North Wiltshire. This small town is filled with HEAPS of history, and we happen to be sitting right in the middle of it!

Black Dog Halt

Calne Alsop before 1912 local history
Image: Black Dog Halt before 1912 Image Source

It was a former railway station connecting Calne and Chippenham which was originally created for the private use of Lord Lansdowne in 1863, public use was permitted, but not common. The now disused station was closed in 1965, with all its building demolished and its tracks lifted in 1967. It’s now used as a walk and cycle path running from Calne to Chippenham.

Harris’s Factory

Stringing sausages C&T Harris Ltd
Image: Stringing sausages C&T Harris Ltd and The Wiltshire Cure Image Source

In the second half of the 18th century the Harris brothers, known as John and Henry, each developed their own businesses, they came together in 1888 as C. & T. Harris & Co. Production at that time was mainly bacon, sausages and lard but in the 20th century this was extended to pies, cooked meats and tinned meats were produced. The company was well known for its pork. [Source] As the business became very successful the railway line was introduced to Calne and provided much-needed freight transport and marshalling yards for the import and export of Harris’ products. However, what had once been the main source of employment had also been the chief source of unemployment after the company (which was renamed to Farmers Meat Company in 1962)  decided to close down the business in 1981. Due to the unemployment and social issues, the factory was demolished in 1984 to make way for a huge redevelopment project in the town centre. [Source]

If you’d like to read more about Harris’s, have a read here, or if you’re more of a visual person, Calne Heritage centre is holding an exhibition until 23rd June 2019 showing the Last Days of the C&T Harris Building here.

The Bowood Estate

Bowood Houses in 1806
Image: Bowood Houses in 1806 Image source

The Bowood Estate was never a part of Calne, but was indeed a liberty from Chippenham Forest is home to the successive marquesses of Landsdowne since the 1760s. The Lansdownes have long welcomed philosophers, writers and even scientists to their home. In the 18th century the chemist Joseph Priestley was librarian at Bowood and discovered oxygen there. Other visitors included Benjamin Franklin, Jeremy Bentham and Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Take a look at these images of Calne in it’s earlier years from the BBC’s local history collection. If you are local or maybe want to take a trip, why not visit Calne Heritage Centre!

It’s lovely to learn about the history that surrounds us, as it makes us feel more connected to the community. Especially if you live in a small town, you have a strong sense of community pride!

We very much feel this here at Family Wise. Our history isn’t solely base on where we are and who we are, but, also what we research.

Yesterday we received a heartwarming testimonial from one of our clients that we helped break down a brick wall in their family history research, which you can read and see for yourselves here.

So, what local community history do you have that you’d like to share with us today?

What's your legacy?

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